Reading FC Match Report: 2018/2019 Season - Championship
READING 0 MIDDLESBRO 1
Middlesbro: G Friend (77)
It was a day of mixed emotions for Reading fans as they watched their team frustratingly lose a game in which their performance deserved at least a point. A relatively small crowd found their voices as The Royals young team found their feet and dominated the second half of game they might easily have won. A typically physical and unimaginative Tony Pulis side, aided by some dubious refereeing, kept Reading at bay, and then took advantage of a defensive lapse late in the game to snatch all three points. Results elsewhere went Reading's way keeping them out of the bottom three. Shortly after the final whistle news broke of the appointment of Jose Gomes as the new manager rendering any analysis of Scott Marshall's recent run of one point from three games irrelevant.
Reading included Gabriel Oshu at centre back and Omar Richards at left back giving the side a youthful look with plenty of pace in all areas. In the opening minutes Reading created a great chance with some excellent passing and movement. Sim’s pass found Baldock who, with only Randolf to beat, hit his shot straight at the ‘keeper. Reading initially looked a bit shaky at the back carelessly conceding possession around their own penalty area. Fortunately Boro failed to take advantage.
Middlesbrough soon settled into their rhythm and threatened to overwhelm Reading bombarding the Reading defence with a succession of corners, free kicks and long throws but their finishing was not sharp enough to make the pressure count. They had the ball in the net from a free kick but the referee assistant’s flag came to the rescue. Oshu and Blackett began to look increasingly comfortable at the back. Approaching half time Reading raised their game. Bacuna worked hard keeping the ball moving effectively and Rinomhota stood out with his surging runs, intelligent passing and solid defensive contribution. Richards drew a good save from Randolf just before the interval and then Yiadom blasted a half chance high and wide.
Reading took control of the game in the second half. The crowd got behind Reading and their passing and movement had Boro backpedalling. There were strong appeals for a penalty when an arm blocked Bacuna’s shot from outside the box but the referee was not interested. Jaakola made a good save from a fierce strike from a Boro counter attack but there was no doubt Reading were in the ascendency. Baldock was proving ineffective up against the physically superior Boro centre backs and the introduction of Bodvarsson warming up on the touchline seemed to be the best option available to unsettle the Boro back four. Only Scott Marshall knows why he delayed that particular change until the eighty-fifth minute. By then Reading had fallen victim to the sucker punch.
In the seventy-seventh minute Barrow allowed McNair to run in behind him to receive a short pass inside from the wide player. McNair had acres of space and plenty of time to pick out Friend with an accurate cross to slam past Jaakkola. It was harsh on a Reading side that had played so well. Frustrated Reading fans then had to endure some weak refereeing and appalling time wasting tactics from Hugill (feigning injury) in particular. It was hard to have any sympathy for the treatment dished out by Blackett who received a yellow card for his ‘robust’ challenge on the irritating Boro forward. Boro survived another reasonable penalty appeal, and when Bodvarsson nodded the ball down to Blackett who missed the target from close range it was clearly not .going to be Reading’s day.
The target for Jose Gomes is clearly to avoid relegation and loyal Reading fans will be willing him to succeed. The only way forward is be positive and get behind the new manager (please note Mr Dellor!!) and a Reading squad which clearly has tremendous potential, especially with some home grown young squad members stepping in and performing so well.
This Championship game took place 272 days ago in the 2018/2019 season.