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Watford 2-0 Reading

 An expected defeat, but one that leaves The Royals in a precipitous position in the play-off race. Size of event = xG. Sarr's goals totalled 0.11xG according to infogol. When the other team has an asset worth £40m then it's unsurprising that they provide moments of real quality. Ismaila Sarr was involved in all of Watford's best moves, including the two goals. Reading's defence has been predicated on forcing shots from bad angles - and you could argue they did that even despite their mistakes, but they didn't account for the Watford winger's finishing. Gibson needs to take out the passing lane to Sarr as he goes across, and at least force the pass down the line. Ovie needed to track back, and Laurent failing to track Sarr is a serious failing. Goal one is a great example. The left side breaks down defensively - Ovie fails to track Zinckernagel down the right, which creates a knock-on effect with Gibson coming across (but in effect taking himself out of play by
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Reading 3-1 Derby County

Reading made it a four-point weekend. That may be a little better in ice hockey than football, but a satisfactory return nonetheless. In the first half, there was a clear plan to try to play the ball quickly beyond the Derby defence, in a play reminiscent of how Reading scored at Oakwell just days before. Laurent was closest to making it work on a couple of occasions early on. A pass evaded Olise by millimetres before Meite was shrugged off a ball over the top. It's a low percentage, but high reward play that Reading were not far from making work.  Five pink shirts are worried more about Ovie than Laurent or Olise. Knight (#38, on the D) runs past Olise to cut off Ejaria, giving Olise that split-second extra to pick his spot. Obviously, Olise's beautiful strike to round out the first half didn't come from that sort of situation at all. Instead, Ejaria linked with Laurent well, first to move into the box, then to recycle possession. It's an area of the pitch that Ovie ha

Barnsley 1-1 Reading

When does a side deserve to win a match? Is it when they outshoot their opponents? Or dominate possession? Or is it, quite simply, when they score more goals than they concede? Lots of old school football folk would lean toward the last point, but it's obvious that the scoreline isn't always wholly reflective of the match it represents. It can feel like a team controlling possession is controlling the game, but the Stam Era shows how that is a fallacy. Instead, as with everything in life, it depends. And while the play may have been in the Reading third almost twice as much as it was in The Tykes', and while Barnsley had 2.5 times more shots than the away side, Reading should have won the game. Reading may not have created a lot of chances, but created big chances. I strongly believe xG displayed here is undervalued on all three big chances. Unbelievable chances fell first to Meite, then Ovie, and finally Joao. Blazed over, converted, wide. Throw a completely avoidable pen

Manchester City 1-0 Reading

The Royals fought valiantly against a superior Manchester City team. Reading largely kept the 5-3-2 from facing Tottenham, but you could argue it was closer to a 3-4-1-2, with both James and Fishlock playing deeper. Cooper came back into the side to replace Emma Mitchell, and Rachel Rowe returned after suspension. City overloaded the wing in the 5-3-2, with the defence stretched The problem was that Manchester City's 4-3-3 stretched the three centre-backs, with Kelly and Hemp starting against the touchline. Reading's wing-backs offered little support as they pressed high, worrying far more about City's full-backs. When Reading gain possession further up the pitch they were liable to be countered on, with City getting numbers forward quickly. And that was coupled with the fact that some sloppy errors led to big chances too. Reading were lucky not to be three or four down by the time they had their first shot - 25 minutes into the match. It was a change of shape that allowed

Reading 1-1 QPR

A good performance was marred by a nightmare ten minutes, and the fact that a point really wasn't enough. Injuries to Yiadom and McIntyre, combined with the recoveries of Rinomhota and Ejaria caused a bit of a reshuffle. Reading returned to the 4-2-3-1, with Meite moving out to the right, Ovie coming in on the left, and the re-establishment of the Laurentino partnership. Instead of a natural right-back, like Esteves, the centre backs shuffled right. Holmes played at full-back and Moore RCB, with Gibson, making his first appearance in a month, taking up his position at LCB. All of this seemed to actually work. Reading started the match much the brighter - not something that can be said on many occasions this season. In the first twenty-five minutes, Reading outshot the away side 7-2, including a Yoann Barbet 'shot' from 25 yards. Olise and Ejaria both tallied three key passes in that period, as they looked to provide the cutting edge. Olise had a couple of passes that opened

Birmingham City 2-1 Reading

How quickly football turns. Reading have gone from three wins in four, to one point in six. Form needs to turn around quickly to elongate our season. One of the main issues raised for Reading's demise was Birmingham's high press, and Reading did struggle to move the ball into midfield. There was also a clear plan to get the ball to the front two as quickly as possible, as was evident from Rafael's quick distribution up to the strikers when taking the ball in open play. I think it's one of the areas where Ovie is majorly underrated, yes we get annoyed at him in attacking positions, but his skill on the ball allows Reading to play through the thirds a little easier. He has always been willing to drop deeper to pick up the ball centre-left and attempt to play forward. One of the main issues with playing both Joao and Meite in this system is they both seemingly want to roam - often leaving a hole centrally. That's a particular problem when your team are attempting to pl

Reading 0-0 Tottenham

 After the disappointment of losing to Bristol, a point gained will be seen as a positive. It was, however, not a comfortable performance. For the first time since November, Reading moved away from the 4-2-2-2 - instead opting for three at the back. Mitchell and Leine moved inside from their usual fullback positions to flank Molly Bartrip. Harding remained on the right, with Lily Woodham her opposite. In the middle James played the deepest of a slightly staggered midfield trio. Fara Williams lined up alongside Fishlock, with the latter the most offensive. Up front, Eikeland and Harries provided the energy. Not that any of it changed the overall flow of the game. Reading had a good first half before Spurs took control in the second. The plan seemed to be for Mitchell to find the runs of Eikeland and Harries in that left channel The defence were a bit of a mess. Early on Leine - starting her first game since her injury in January - began playing simple passes out of play. Mitchell, looki