Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship
READING 2 LUTON 1
Reading: T McIntyre (9), A Semedo (41)
Luton: K Lua Lua (90)
Reading earned three valuable three against an improving Luton side buoyed by a recent victory over Norwich and a draw against Bournemouth. With Liam Moore the latest casualty to join the list of missing first choice players, McIntyre was drafted into the back four to cover at left back. It was clearly not going to be an easy game to win. Having started positively the Royals took an early lead with a McIntyre goal of which any striker would be proud, and then went two up just before half time, Samedo applying a clinical finish to a superb move. The second half was a scrappy, poorly refereed battle, in which Reading hung on to their narrow lead after substitute Lua Lua had pulled a goal back on ninety minutes.
Aluko set the tone with some delightful touches and a defence splitting pass which put Ejaria in possession behind the Luton defence, but the opportunity was lost due his lack of pace and a really poor pass which denied Baldock a chance to score. However it was Aluko who provided the assist for the first goal a few minutes later when his corner found McIntyre lurking inside the box. His run to get in front of his marker was well timed and the left foot volley was brilliant giving Luton ‘keeper Shea no chance. The free kicks came thick and fast and the Luton players were contesting just about every decision made by Referee Matt Donohue who responded with some pretty awful decisions mainly in Luton’s favour. Luton have found goals hard to come by away from home and rarely threatened to change that trend in the first half. On forty minutes Reading scored a goal worthy of winning any game. A sweeping move from just inside their own half ended with a perfectly timed and weighted pass from Baldock through the Luton back four for Samedo to run on to and guide calmly the ball past Shea. Having had the benefit of several poor decisions Luton were probably unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when a last ditch tackle by McIntyre resulted in a yellow card and a free kick right on the edge of the box. Luton typically wasted the free kick. In the chaos whilst McIntyre was off the pitch receiving treatment Luton managed to cause some anxious moments in the Reading penalty area.
Luton manager Nathan Jones made three changes at half time in a bid to salvage something from the game and Luton began to dominate possession without really looking likely to score. Hylton was given responsibility for leading the attack but proved to be a blunt instrument. His contributions were limited to an unsuccessful attempt to intimidate Holmes, several poor touches to lose possession, and a missed chance with a header from close range. Reading struggled to retain possession and play their way out of their own half. Baldock tried hard, but up against two tall and physical centre backs he stood little chance of getting anything from long balls pumped forward in his general direction. It was incredibly frustrating too for Reading that virtually every time Ejaria was in possession he slowed the game down and gave the ball away. Surging runs from Laurent and Rinomhota appeared to be the most promising way for Reading to mount an attack.
Right on full time Lua Lua tried his luck with a good strike from well outside the box which seemed to take Raphael by surprise and the ball squirmed under him to give Luton a sniff of a point with three minutes of stoppage time remaining. Had Luton equalised it would have been particularly galling as I am sure the referee missed two fouls on Reading players in the build up to the goal. As full time drew nearer Swift played himself in to game and in stoppage time had a calming influence with some shrewd passes and keeping possession under pressure. It was good to see him back and looking ready for a full game.
Remarkably Reading have managed to climb back in to the top six in spite of their appalling run of injuries to key players. Paunovic deserves a lot of credit for keeping Reading in touch with the leaders under the circumstances. There was a rumour Joao was ready to return, and that could be crucial for the trip to Swansea currently just ahead of the pack chasing Norwich at the top.
This Championship game took place 115 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.