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Reading 3-1 Bristol City

What Reading lacked up until the weekend was a statement win. A performance to truly back up the initial form. The Royals produced that against Bristol City. Although Reading were playing a 4-2-3-1, Meite pushed on to exploit chances on the counter The first half was cagey, with both sides more concerned about keeping things tight at the back. Rinomhota and Laurent did a stellar job protecting the back four, with Holmes and Richards easily dealing with danger in the wide areas - especially given Bristol's 3-5-2 meant overloads out wide weren't an issue. Reading struggled to play out against Millwall but had no such issue this time around. Laurent dropped between the centre backs to create the angles seen in the second half at The Den, but playing direct up to Meite or Joao was always an option too. Bypassing the midfield meant that Reading could fairly consistently have good numbers at the offensive end of the pitch as the away side left three back while Reading had Meite, Joao
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Millwall 1-1 Reading

Finally, something other than a defeat. One point from a possible fifteen is not a brilliant return, but it's a start. Initially, Millwall cut off all passes except the pass across to Morrison Millwall cut off the pass back to Moore, and look to force Morrison to go long In the first half Reading struggled to get any real purchase in the game. Troy Parrott and Ben Thompson made it hard to play out from the back. The responsibility of progressing the ball fell to the full-backs, though Scott Malone and Jed Wallace also tried to starve them of time. We know what Omar Richards can do at this point, but Tom Holmes also had a good game. In his last spell in the team, Holmes was far too cautious with the ball, but at The Den found a number of good forward balls into Meite. Having an extra man completely negates the Millwall press. Splitting the CBs mean that the Millwall strikers have to start wider, allowing the pass into midfield. Pressing Laurent leaves an easy ball to one of the CBs.

Bournemouth 4-2 Reading

Reading slipped out of the promotion places for the first time this season after a fourth defeat. It looked like the international break had worked for the away side, after they lead by two goals at the break, only to concede four after half time. Semedo plays both a poor pass, and the wrong pass. Should drive, or pass to Aluko in space rather than trying a very difficult through ball. Before the game, I was critical of Alfa Semedo's continued inclusion, but it was his long legs nipping in before Begovic that won Reading their penalty. Despite that he just didn't offer enough in the rest of the match, costing his team going both ways. In the first half he had a great opportunity with a header - admittedly a chance he helped to create - but he got it completely wrong. As a defensive midfielder, heading should be well within his wheelhouse. Then there was the first time ball to try to put Ejaria through that went completely wrong, rather than easier pass to the completely unmarke

Reading 0-3 Stoke City

Reading clung onto top spot going into the international break despite a third consecutive defeat. A side praised for their resolute defence have now conceded thirteen goals in their last four outings. The biggest kick in the teeth was that Stoke beat the home side at their own game; soaking up pressure before being clinical in front of the opposition goal. Paunovic altered the system, playing, at least on paper, a 5-3-2. Yiadom, Morrison, and Gibson were flanked by Esteves and Richards. Rinomhota, Laurent, and Semedo played their usual roles, and up top Puscas partnered Joao for the first time in aeons. Creating a back four allowed more passing lanes for the man on the ball With the ball at the back, though, Reading set-up quite differently, effectively becoming a back four. Esteves and Richards pushed up, Yiadom moved into the RB spot, and Laurent became the LB. In the second half, there was a variation on the theme, with Rinomhota dropping into the centre, and Gibson going wider. Th

Everton 1-1 Reading

 A third consecutive league draw, but one more palatable than last weekend. L: Reading's XI vs Tottenham, R: Line-Up vs Everton Reading made a single enforced change, Kristine Leine coming in for the injured Deanna Cooper. However, Kelly Chambers also played with the formation, switching to a 4-2-2-2. Fishlock and James shielded the defence. Eikeland and Chaplen played between the lines, with Carter partnered by the unlikely Harding. The captain, who had been playing right-back, is known for being versatile and was a success in her 'new' role. Rachel Rowe filled in in the vacated full-back position.  4-2-4, having two excellent passers deeper in Fishlock and James helps The front four were incredibly fluid. The deep duo often making runs beyond the strikers into space, almost to form a 4-2-4 at points. The two up top would drop deep if needed, although not nearly as much as in previous matches. The only slight issue was that it's

Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Reading

 A game that will be immortalised as Alex Morgan's WSL debut offered little else in the way of entertainment. Spurs sit second bottom after securing their second point, the second previously-winless team to take points off The Royals in the last three matches. Neville pushes up to watch Carter, and Fishlock takes her completely out of the play. Reading went a goal up after less than fifteen minutes. Ashleigh Neville pushed up onto Carter, leaving space for the ball behind which Fishlock executed to perfection. All Mitchell had to do was pick out a Reading shirt. With Eikeland's run to the near post opening space for Chaplen behind her, the latter had a free header from five yards out. Eikeland somehow completely misses the ball, and James wasn't arriving quick enough to give herself a decent chance. They could have been ahead even earlier. Mitchell's ball into the channel found Chaplen, and somehow Eikeland missed her ball across. James, coming in at the back post, just

Reading Women Round Up

It's been a couple of months since I caught up with Reading Women, and in that time they've had a bit of an erratic run. They started well, beating West Ham with the only goal of the game in the league before despatching Charlton 4-0 in the Conti Cup. Defeat at home to Birmingham gave the visitors their first win of the year before a draw with Manchester City corrected course. A two-and-a-half-week break finished with another match away at West Ham, this time in the cup. The home side scored thrice without reply to take all three points in the group stage. Reading have continued to play the 4-3-3 (or 4-4-2 diamond). After Fara Williams was injured in the first ten minutes in the first West Ham game Jess Fishlock has dropped to play as the deepest CM, with James to her right and a rotating cast taking the final spot. Up front it's been Bruton and Carter with Eikeland sitting just behind. Mitchell is caught upfield, but nobody tracks the run into the RW channel - as Fishlock