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Reading 1-0 Preston North End

Preston must be getting sick of seeing Reading. Four consecutive losses in a row - all by a single goal. Last season Preston turned up at the Mad Stad on a run of 12 game unbeaten run before being turned over by Mo Barrow and Yakou Meite. Seven months later and Preston hadn't lost in eight matches, but they hadn't reckoned with Mark Bowen and Matt Miazga.

To address the elephant in the room first up. I'll be honest, I don't understand the reasoning behind Mark Bowen's appointment. I understand why José Gomes was fired - although I don't agree with it - but to then bring in someone who's never managed before seems like an unncessary risk, and one that negates much of the reason for firing your manager in the first place.

With that said I thought that the way we played was sensible. He didn't try to completely overhaul the system - sticking with the same formation and personnel where available. Rather than having one holding midfielder with Ejaria and Swift in front, Swift instead sat deeper. Ovie was allowed an almost completely free role, starting just behind the two strikers. Alongside the change in midfield the two wingbacks weren't cavaliering forward at every opportunity - all leading to a more solid defensive shape. Preston did have a few early chances, mainly from crossing positions as is to be expected. They failed to get decent connections, and Reading - for once - managed to ride their luck.

The key change by the new manager was in transition. The moment we won the ball Puscas and Meite would set off trying to get in behind the defence and we looked for a ball over the top. Ejaria, inevitably, drifted around the pitch, which left a huge hole between the ball carrier and the frontmen and meant the hollywood ball was really the only option. Hopefully it's just teething problems beacuse you can't expect to play the ball over the top for 90 minutes. It also severely negates Swift. Dropping him deeper does stymie him anyway, but his forte will always be in the technical interplay further up the field.

Ejaria had two good chances to give Reading a lead in the first half, but hit both shots straight at the keeper. Swift had a free kick saved - unnecessarily acrobatically. The Preston keeper didn't exude confidence, and probably could have done better with Miazga's effort at the end.

Puscas had another bad day at the office but - as with every week - his movement is encouraging. He had one decent shot that sailed over the bar and couldn't connect with a great cross from Pelé. When he connects with a shot it really does travel, and we've already seen that he has decent ability. Let's just hope it's a confidence issue. He's only twenty-three, and there's plenty of time on his contract to come good.

Baldock and Loader's performances are positive. The former in particular seemed lively. I saw Courtney Friday suggest that he may be the perfect foil for Puscas and there's definitely some potential there. Baldock is the type of striker who seems to love doing the hard work - putting pressure on defenders, dropping into gaps to pick up the ball, and playing in his team mates. Puscas meanwhile seems built to sit and wait for his opportunity. If he doesn't contribute a goal he won't offer much else.

Adam coming off the bench was a bit of a disaster. Sounds like he managed to injure himself, which completely negated any impact he may have had. The change was a bit strange anyway though. Pelé had a great game, and it's far more likely that Adam could be caught out - especially by someone like Daniel Johnson. No harm done (in terms of the score) in the end.

On the whole there were certainly positives to take, but, as Alex Neil said, he didn't really know how to set up against us because of the changes in management and once teams work out how we're planning on playing we'll experience tougher matches. QPR are another team that are doing well in the table, but have on occasion shown frailties. It will be interesting to see if these tactics can be as adept away from home (I'd argue they're almost more designed to be playing away from home anyway) or if he'll change things up.

One thing is for certain. It's a midweek Reading - QPR game which means it'll probably be cold, wet, and result in a 1-0 defeat.


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