Reading FC Match Report: 2023/2024 Season - League One


READING 1 CHELTENHAM 0

Reading: W Ferry (og 33)
Cheltenham: --

Steve Coppell once said the nature of the season you were going to have is not defined in the first few games. He went on the say, by December we will know which end of the table we be looking at come the end of the season. Never has that been more accurate than the current season. This evening’s game brought the welcome relief of the first points of the season and a first league win in fifteen games. To a certain extent the nature of the victory was irrelevant, but there was more to take from this performance than just a morale boosting win.

New manager Ruben Seles made sweeping changes to the team which was defeated by a single goal at Port Vale and there was a strange symmetry about both performances. A first half dominated by Reading and a scrappy second half with the result determined by a freakish deflected goal. The crucial difference this time was the goal went to Reading, a result of a penetrating run at the heart of the Cheltenham defence and a shot which came off Ferry before looping over the advancing Southwood into an empty net.

The goal was a fair reward for some sharp and direct attacking football from a youthful, talented, and enthusiastic group of players bearing a strong resemblance to the team which had performed so impressively at Millwall recently.

After five minutes, former Reading ‘keeper, Southwood was tested by an excellent long range strike from Carson charging forward from the back. That seemed to set the pattern for the first half. Cheltenham offered nothing going forward, and looked sluggish in midfield, and vulnerable at the back. Wing looked comfortable in midfield and Savage was picking out some delightful short penetrating passes. Some sharp one touch passing and movement kept Cheltenham on the back foot. It was only a slight lack of composure and presence in the box which denied Reading more goals.

Cheltenham rallied in the second half and posed more of a threat going forward. Reading lost their defensive shape at times and became increasingly reliant on long balls from the back. Seles wisely turned to the experience of McIntyre, Hutchinson and Yiadom on the bench to stabilise the defence, and Aeez to freshen up the attack. The tireless Vickers lasted the entire match, including the remarkable nine minutes of added time, and was constant thorn in the side of the visitors defence with his ability to retain possession and run at the defence.

Ruben Seles seems to know what he expects for his players, but with so little time on his arrival to prepare for this season, the August fixtures are pretty much like pre-season preparation in the way he is getting to know his squad. So far there are encouraging signs from players and manager alike, and as previously mentioned, it is good to get that first league win under our belt.

John Wells

This League One game took place 198 days ago in the 2023/2024 season.