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Luton Town 1-0 Reading

 Another cup game against Luton, another 1-0 loss via a cross to the back post. I should start out by correcting a wrong. On the EPR podcast, I said that Semedo played badly. I think that was probably just my confirmation bias coming through. While he may not have been outstanding, he did his job well enough. I am sorry, Alfa. All of Luton's outfield players are in this photo, Luton have Bree over on the right. That's the benefit of having an extra man in midfield. The goal itself came about as a consequence both of mistakes on the field, and a mismatch in the systems. Luton's 4-4-2 diamond meant that when the full-backs pushed up during possession, Reading were outnumbered in midfield 6-5, meaning there was always a man over. That man tended to be Bree hugging the touchline. When the ball goes wide Reading's full-backs are supposed to be able to pack the box, with the winger pressuring the player on the ball, but Onen was frequently too narrow. The youngster could have
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Reading 0-5 Chelsea

The curse of the former player is not usually so potent. Fran Kirby caused Reading problems all afternoon as she notched four goals, in a match that proved Reading are falling behind the clubs in the top four. Kirby's off the ball runs were almost never tracked, with the former Royal able to run in behind at will. No matter what part of the defence she looked to exploit, she found almost no resistance. Reading only managed to disrupt her flow on a couple of occasions when Jess Fishlock tracked back from midfield and actually managed to put a tackle in. Carter loses a header, with nobody to cover. Kirby runs in behind and scores, but Mitchell should get back quicker. For her first two goals, the opposite side centre-back didn't seem interested in trying to stop her run after beating their partner. First off, Cooper missed a header in the middle of the pitch and left Kirby bearing down on Moloney. Mitchell didn't seem to break a sweat until she realised there may be a chance

Replacing Omar Richards

In the summer team report I wrote: "we  really  don't want to be going into 2021/2022 without any LBs so a new contract for Omar has to be on the agenda early". And yet, that seems to be exactly what's happening with Richards set to depart for pastures new. Whether he goes to Bayern Munich or not, bigger clubs are circling. There's a couple of options internally, and the club are also looking elsewhere. Ethan Bristow The youngster has been the go-to left-back for cup matches and tends to start for the U23s. He's been brought onto the bench since Richards' injury, but has found himself behind Gibson and McIntyre in the pecking order. Bristow's little run inside drags the right-back narrow, and gives Aluko space to attack He has good vision to spot a pass, and often plays them first time to not allow the defence to put him under pressure. That's normally followed by an intelligent run, and not always to get the ball - sometimes he simply pulls a defe

Brighton 1-3 Reading

Reading scored more than once for the first time since September to end a run of six winless games away at Brighton. Reading's press forced the turnover for Fishlock to capitalise on The difference-maker was evidently Jess Fishlock, who was involved in all three goals. At times in possession, Angharad James seemed to play as the lone anchor, meaning Fishlock could push forward. Both her goals were slightly fortuitous but brought about by Reading's press. Brighton's Felicity Gibbons played an errant pass under pressure into the middle of the park, straight to Fishlock. Rebekah Stott slipped as she went to close down the midfielder, giving Fishlock the time to pick her spot from 18 yards. Next, it was the turn of the right-back, Maya Le Tissier (I checked, no relation), to be robbed of possession. Maybe there's something up with the pitch in Crawley because Le Tissier also slipped, allowing Lily Woodham to attack the box. Victoria Williams got her head on the cross, but c

Huddersfield 1-2 Reading

Reading took seven points from nine as they continue to sidestep potential banana skins. Laurent tries to steal the ball in midfield. He fails and leaves a hole for Bacuna to drive into, which itself opens space for Mbenza on the right. Before the game had even settled the home side had put themselves 1-0 up. Josh Laurent tried to nick the ball in midfield but failed. Ejaria chased back to try to fill the space, Rinomhota came across, and Richards narrowed for the same reason. Normally Ovie would have tracked the run wide, but it's an unusual way for Laurent to be caught out and he went toward the immediate danger. All that meant Bacuna could shift the ball to Mbenza on the wing, who had plenty of time to put in the cross. Holmes has shown himself to be good in the air, as shown by a header at the end of the half that the goalkeeper somehow saved, but has been caught underneath the ball on occasion. Campbell got the jump on him this time and headed the ball home. Tactically Reading

Swansea 0-0 Reading

When your goalkeeper is most people's player of the match, you know that you've been under the cosh. Given how makeshift the side is, we looked surprisingly resolute. Rafael was the standout for many and he did make one great save from Ayew but on the whole, his work was relatively routine. However, it's the routine that he's been struggling with, and Reading need their keeper to do the easy work given how the defence restricts attacks to difficult chances.  Had there been more pace on any of the headers, they would have been tougher saves, but you can't argue with a clean sheet. I still think that Southwood should be given a chance in the FA Cup, with the possibility of a run in the league. One game doesn't eradicate his poor form.  Rino blocked Guehi's run, but wasn't close enough to challenge his shot. The best chance of the match fell to Guehi from a corner, but he blazed over the bar. On the whole Reading's zonal marking worked just fine, but on

Reading 2-1 Luton

Losing to Brentford and Norwich is alright as long as we win the games we should, and thankfully we put three points on the board against Luton. Reading have relied on set pieces and catching teams in transition this season, with both in evidence at The Madejski. McIntyre's volley to open up the scoring was exquisite. The Luton defender was caught on his heels, presumably expecting the makeshift left-back to run toward the penalty spot, which meant Tom could get in front and place it into the corner. Aluko deserves credit for the pinpoint corner, which adds an assist to his goal last time out. McIntyre had a pretty decent game all told, even though he should have given away a blatant penalty when he absolutely clattered Moncur. He consistently put balls over the top for Baldock to chase when he had no other option, which kept the striker in the game, and was confident on the ball when he had time. Much like Holmes when he first came in, he's tentative with his runs, but that