Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship


Reading: Y Meite (41), Y Meite (79), L Joao (pen 90)
Rotherham: --

An outstanding goal from Yakou Meite was the turning point in Reading's sixth victory in seven games. With just over ten minutes to play, and Reading hanging on to a fragile looking lead from a first half goal, also scored by Meite, the Reading striker controlled a corner on his chest and swivelled to smash an unstoppable left foot volley past Rotherham 'Keeper Blackman. Rotherham certainly never gave up at any stage, but Reading are now so secure at the back, anything other than a Royals win was extremely unlikely. Joao added a third from the penalty spot having used his strength to get on the end of a long ball up the middle to win the spot kick in stoppage time. It was a flattering score line but tactically Reading once again got everything right and took all three points and secured yet another clean sheet.

Rotherham dominated possession for most of a very dull first half. Puscas, starting in place of Joao, only had two touches in the first thirty minutes as Reading struggled to get out of their own half. United however, for all their possession, rarely threatened to score. Smith headed wide for United and Raphael punched a cross at the Rotherham striker but it rebounded off his legs for a goal kick. It was half littered with untidy challenges, free kicks and poor passing with players on both sides being denied time and space on the ball. Out of the blue, just as they did last week away to Middlesbrough, Reading scored with their first shot on target. Ejaria found Meite, in what looked suspiciously like an offside position at the far post, who beat Blackman with a firm shot which somewhat embarrassingly went through his legs.

The second half was a much livelier affair with Rotherham pushing hard for an equaliser and Reading snapping into their challenges with a bit more urgency. Rotherham made the first change bringing on Hirst for Lindsay up front and the substitute had a great chance to score with is first touch but with the goal at his mercy his tame effort was cleared off the line by Moore. United were putting Reading under considerable pressure prompting Paunovic to replace Puscas with Joao, and Semada with Olise. Puscas had livened up a bit in the second half but had made little impact on the game. Sameda had been similarly anonymous which was disappointing given the quality of his performance last week. Lapido came on for United and it took an outstanding save by Raphael to keep out his strike from the edge of the box on seventy-five minutes. The game was quite open now, giving Reading a bit more time and space to create chances. Reading’s energy levels remained high as everyone worked hard defensively, and looked to break forward with pace when in possession. Meite’s work rate in particular was outstanding. Rinomhota headed wide from Richards’ cross. Meite broke free and almost put Olise in on goal with a well-intentioned square pass which was cut out.

Something had to give and in the seventy-ninth minute it did. Esteves nearly scored the crucial second goal for Reading with a thunderous thirty-yard strike which Blackman, at full stretch just touched onto the crossbar. From the resulting corner Meite applied the killer blow with some style with a piece of outstanding skill and instinctive finishing. Nobody was more deserving of a goal than him. Olise nearly scored a spectacular third goal from a free kick, spotting Blackman off his line clipped the bar on to the crossbar. It was a superb piece of skill and a delightfully cheeky attempt by a talented young player full of confidence. Credit to Rotherham for not wilting, but when Joao burst through in stoppage time and was hauled down by Ihiekwe in the box it was all over. Joao’s penalty was as precise a penalty as you are ever likely to see, drilled low into the corner.

So Reading’s remarkable run continues as they open up a five point lead at the top of the Championship. Keeping feet on the ground is getting tricky!

John Wells

This Championship game took place 280 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.