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Nottingham Forest 1-0 Reading

Starting with two ties against promotion chasing sides was never going to be the ideal way to kick off the season, but once again Reading largely held their own in a tight encounter - only to be edged out late on.

Again, The Royals probably had the better of the early exchanges in a somewhat surprising, not-seen in yonks 4-4-2 formation. Firm twitter favourite Yakou Meite finally getting a start on the right wing, while Sam 'The Saviour' Baldock played off Bodvarsson. The set-up worked much like against Derby, with a high press harrying Forest who never really settled. The only real issue was that the ball kept bouncing off our Icelandic giant.

Both wingers seemed to have the freedom to drift inside, and linked up in the middle of the pitch for Reading's best chance of the game - Barrow sliding in Meite, who was put under pressure as he shot and didn't manage to get any real power. Similar in style to Bodvarsson's miss last week, although this was in an even better position.

Forest were almost ahead before half-time as the otherwise impressive Ilori allowed Grabban to wander in behind, though Mannone stayed big from a tight angle. As an aside I wasn't a massive fan of the Reading fans getting at Grabban - played out of position for much of the season he was here, but still made an impact at points.

There was also a lofted ball down the middle that the Forest player - who I know have no recollection of - failed to bring down. He still had a bit to do, but it was a fine ball to put him in a good position.

After criticising Kelly last week for a lack of composure he had a bigger impact at the weekend. A couple of much better free-kicks and balls over the top for Jon Dadi, probably helped by the fact that there was actually someone staying up top to play the balls to.

The goal, in many ways, was just unfortunate. McShane blocks a shot, it ricochets awkwardly for Blackett to get a hold of, and it pops loose for Soudani to curl, beautifully, into the net. Maybe Tyler should have been stronger but we have definitely conceded worse goals.

Barrow started to become more influential as we were chasing the game, putting in a couple of decent balls - and taking on his full back more than he had done in the first half, but to no avail. It was surprising how content we seemed to be with a measured build up play when we'd stuck Bod and Meite up front - I would have been pinging balls into them all day long.

Again left to rue a moment of quality, but promising signs. The real test was always going to be this run of games against sides who'll be struggling come the end of the season: Bolton, Blackburn, Sheffield Wednesday comprise three of the next four league matches.

Plus we can look forward to seeing some of the fringe players start in tomorrow's Carabao Cup game. Walker could put more pressure on Mannone with a good performance, Popa if fit, and Clement - who may feel a little unlucky to not be closer to the starting XI given his positive pre-season - are all surely candidates to make a start.


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