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Reading 3-1 Colchester

What can one glean from a glorified pre-season friendly?

Well, we have certainly adopted Paunovic's preferred 4-2-3-1. We've already seen the new manager's interesting selections, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt to allow him to see more of the squad (wouldn't it have been amazing if he'd had pre-season to do that?). But I can't see anybody being in his team selection for Derby that wouldn't have already been there.

The one player who probably does deserve an inclusion is Araruna, but it'll be very difficult to displace Yiadom when fit. He'll be disappointed about the goal though, being outpaced on the overlap - although those in the middle didn't help him out too much. The other full-back, Ethan Bristow had one good burst down the left-wing, but on the whole, doesn't look ready for this standard of football. It was noticeable they got in behind the LB on several occasions.

The Reading defence defending to the left while the ball is on that flank.

Like under Gomes, the fullbacks pushed high, but with only two centre-backs to cover. Hopefully, the pace and the relative experience of Yiadom and Richards will see us be slightly tighter at the back. The defence seems a lot happier to shuffle over one side - ceding space on the opposite wing. When the ball was on the Colchester right-hand side, Araruna was almost in the centre of the pitch.

Behind them, Southwood was decent, although not faultless. At one point quickly rolling to an under-pressure Morrison, another staying on his line when the now former-captain wanted him to gather the ball. Both should be ironed at with game time and understanding what this back four want from him.

Like elsewhere on the pitch, nobody behind the striker really grabbed their opportunity. McNulty - who hasn't played a competitive match since March, and has spent more time on the bench than the pitch this pre-season - started on the right, before moving into a more natural position in the centre, but he struggled to get involved. A poor pass or two can be forgiven, but you have to question whether he can work in partnership with Joao, or whether both are looking to be in the same areas. 

Aluko ended up playing in all three positions. Also largely anonymous in the centre, but on the right he started to find some sort of rhythm. His drawing of two defenders allowed him to shift to Araruna to cross for the first, and some strong play won a freekick that leads to the third goal. He didn't manage to create separation when on the ball - which used to be his main strength.

And Baldock on the left side seemed to mostly be there to congratulate Joao after each goal.

Laurent often picked up the ball in this position but rarely had options to move the ball forward

I think the side missed Swift, and you could see that from the way they built from the back. Josh Laurent often dropping into the left-back spot, but then normally having to offload to centre backs. Presumably part of the reason to pick up the ball at LB is to open up play to allow the switch to the right - something he managed with an absolutely glorious ball exactly once.

I don't think there's too much point delving into patterns of play, given the selection and the fact that Paunovic hasn't had too much time with the squad yet. The normal starters all did fairly well. The defence didn't have too much to do, Laurent and Olise looked bright in midfield, and obviously, Joao bagged a hat-trick.

A pretty solid run out while getting into the next round. Easy enough.


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