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Reading 1-0 Blackburn

These wins may not be good for my nerves, but I couldn't care less if we keep getting results. Reading started the game using the same 4-4-2 diamond as they did away at Ewood Park. There's an excellent video on that match on The Coaches' Voice  if you haven't seen it. It may not have yielded quite the same goal return at The Madejski, but it helped to stifle Blackburn's outlets in the middle of the park - with only their full-backs on the outside.  From earlier in the move that saw Puscas' header. Reading looked to overload the left-hand side with Joao occupying the right back and Richards also looking to make the run. Olise's run into the centre is also what opens space for Yiadom on the right. Reading actually managed to exploit that early on, as Yiadom's run down the side was found by Morrison, and after some interplay with Olise, a cross into the box saw Puscas header turned over. The way we pushed players forward so that the Blackburn full-back had
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Rotherham 0-1 Reading

A slightly nervous win, but one that eases the tension among the fanbase. Semedo has a tendency to not even get off the ground when defending set pieces. MacDonald has the height on him, but that's exacerbated when you remain on the floor. After the Middlesbrough game, there's a microscope on Semedo at set-pieces and he struggled again. Multiple chances came the hosts' way due to his inability to track runs and challenge in the air. Confusingly his aerial prowess in open play is a real asset to the team but he doesn't seem able to concentrate on both ball and man, which ends badly... quite a lot of the time. Giving him less responsibility in dead ball situations conflicts with his positioning as a DM, and will be a hard issue to solve if he doesn't improve. The midfielder does still have his uses. He again showed his directness when on the ball, both carrying and passing.  And it's not like Reading have many other options for midweek now that Rinomhota picked up

Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 Reading

To say this is a bad result is an understatement. Wycombe have been making a fist of things, but a side hoping to go up this year should have enough about them to take all three points. Four centre-backs was always an odd decision given the opposition had only won four games before Tuesday night and scored the second-fewest goals in the league in the process. It reduced the ability to carry the ball and condemned Reading to a night of playing long toward Joao - a tactic that eventually bore fruit in the reverse fixture but never looked threatening this time out.  I wonder if we set up like this against sides with big, strong forwards so that there's no weakness that they can exploit. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case as Ikpeazu bullied the backline at points. None of the defence played  badly  but they weren't set up to succeed - especially after going a goal down. If you set your side out to keep things tight, you have to actually follow through.  Morrison has to get acr

Reading 0-2 Middlesbrough

There was probably enough on the game at the weekend to call it a six-pointer, and The Royals failed to extend their advantage over the chasing pack. First and foremost, while Reading have lost the last three at home, the doom-mongering about playing at The Madejski is overdoing it. Yes, Reading have not been very good on their own patch for the last few seasons but that has markedly improved this campaign. Despite the losses, they've posted 27 points from 16 games, compared to 25, 30, and 23 in the full seasons since our play-off defeat. Not only have we improved in relation to ourselves, but we're also very respectable in the wider Championship picture. Only five teams have more points at home, and they're the five teams that occupy the top six with us. The teams we've lost against recently are the second-best team in the division, a team unbeaten in seven with the seventh-best away record, and a Boro side who would have had no trouble getting up for potentially one o

Bristol City 0-2 Reading

 A well-deserved victory, although not one that was particularly hard-fought. Let's be honest, Bristol City were poor. They managed just five shots, and all from the penalty spot or beyond, and going the other way was no better. Reading consistently managed to get players into half-spaces and played some dangerous balls across the box without reward, before breaking the deadlock with another Olise > Joao free-kick. So, given the nature of the game wasn't particularly enthralling or enlightening, the main talking point seemed to revolve around the substitutions or lack thereof. Josh Laurent was out of the game after what seemed to be a summation of smaller knocks, and some of the squad have played (and will continue to play) a lot of football this month. While those substitutions were eventually made with five minutes left, the first sub was to put Tom Holmes on for Esteves, who may have been suffering from a lack of game time recently but was hardly the most pressing case. A

Reading 1-2 Millwall

Ouch. Thankfully not many games this season have held the gut punch of Saturday, but it's always nice for Reading to stay grounded in their past. Things were fun right from the team selection on Saturday, as Veljko Paunovic opted for four centre-backs across the defence. Presumably to manage Yiadom's return from injury, and potentially to give Richards a slight rest in the middle of a busy February schedule.  The talking point as the match got underway was Alfa Semedo dropping into the midfield screen with Andy Rinomhota taking his place at CAM. Rinomhota's tireless running was admirable, but rarely caused issues. He didn't make a key pass and failed to wrap his foot round a volley in a great position after Bialkowski saved Olise's free-kick. The decision to split up the midfield pairing of Laurent and Rinomhota, without resting either, could end up being a decision to regret, though maybe the reassurance of a decent Semedo performance will allow for that down the l

Manchester United 0-2 Reading

Manchester United hadn't lost at home in a year, but nobody told Kelly Chambers' side. The most notable change was Lily Woodham coming in at left-back, meaning Emma Mitchell moved over to the right. Mitchell was instrumental, with her set pieces being the difference. Late on she also made a couple of crucial tackles in quick succession inside her own penalty area. The only real blot on her copybook was a couple of fouls she gave away in dangerous positions. Reading's first goal came from a corner on the right-hand side. They packed the six-yard box, as they so often do, with the help of a fair number of Manchester United shirts in amongst it. Mitchell's inswinger was helped on its way by Eikeland at the near post and ended up looping up for Harding to turn in. There were questions over whether it had hit Carter's arm on the way through but that just goes to show how stupid it is to have a handball rule that requires VAR to enforce it. Cooper's run is completely