Reading FC Match Report: 2020/2021 Season - Championship


Reading: Y Meite (1), M Olise (15), J Laurent (18), L Joao (82)
Blackburn: A Armstrong (3), A Armstrong (66)

This evening Reading opened up a seven point lead at the top of the Championship with a performance of outstanding quality. The Royals blew away a very good Rovers side in the opening twenty minutes scoring three goals, playing football of the highest quality. Meite put Reading ahead after just nine seconds when Douglas took his eye off a long ball and provided an inadvertent assist as the ball hit his heel and fell in to the path of the Reading striker. With Rovers ‘keeper Pears stranded Meite simply rolled the ball in to the empty net. Rovers hit back instantly equalising through Armstrong two minute later. The Rovers goal sparked a response from Reading which stunned the home side.

Reading oozing confidence, swept forward with flowing attacking football which mesmerised Rovers. Every Reading player looked confident on the ball and moved with pace and purpose in every area of the pitch. After fifteen minutes Sameda nipped in and won the ball on the half way line and slipped the ball through to Olise. Olise made a bee line for the Rovers box, shrugged off a challenge in the box and scored with a precise and composed finish inside the far post. It was all Reading, and two minutes later the ball was cut back to Laurent on the edge of the box who took a touch before curling a sublime shot just inside the post. It was the football of potential champions without any doubt.

Rovers managed to recover their composure playing their way back into the game and clearly carried a threat of scoring goals. Reading however were so well organised defensively and focused, their chances were few and far between. Richards and Esteves were outstanding on either flank. Defensively strong and quite superb going forward taking players on and picking out the right pass. Sameda, Laurent and Rinomohta protected the back four with tireless closing down and passing the ball forward with purpose to push Rovers on to the back foot. Olise drifted around the pitch, picking out passes, and gliding past opponents in midfield. Joao and Meite tormented the Rovers defence with their pace, power and ability to retain possession. If there were any weaknesses, they were difficult to spot.

The second half was tactically very different. Understandably Rovers needed to push forward and Reading were happy to contain to keep their defensive shape and break forward when the opportunity arose. Olise started the half poorly giving the ball away several times by attempting to elaborate unnecessarily. Sameda impressed as the game wore on with his timely interceptions and outstanding technique on the ball. Moore, Morrison and Raphael were busier than they had been in the first half. Raphael produced good saves at crucial moments. If there was an issue it was the way Armstrong was getting in front of Morrison. It lead to the first Rovers goal and then again in the sixty-sixth minute he headed their second to trim Reading’s lead to one goal. The next phase of the game was crucial.

There was time when Reading would have crumbled under the pressure of a good team coming back, but this is a new Reading full of confidence, ability, and well organised. A sweeping move down the right ending with a brilliant cross from Richards almost ended in an own goal but for good save by Pears. Holtby responded with a surging run and a well struck shot which required a good save from Raphael. Then with under ten minutes remaining a moment of sheer brilliance from Joao provided the crucial fourth goal for Reading. It was a goal which underlined all of Joao’s qualities. His strength allowed him to hold off the challenge of two defenders, his awareness and composure resulted in him finding the space and the angle for a strike on goal, and the quality of his strike gave Pears no chance as he curled his shot inside the far post.

Reading finished the game in complete control and worthy winners of a tough match and fully deserving of their position at the top of the league. On this form they will take some stopping.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 399 days ago in the 2020/2021 season.