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Showing posts from February, 2021

Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 Reading

To say this is a bad result is an understatement. Wycombe have been making a fist of things, but a side hoping to go up this year should have enough about them to take all three points. Four centre-backs was always an odd decision given the opposition had only won four games before Tuesday night and scored the second-fewest goals in the league in the process. It reduced the ability to carry the ball and condemned Reading to a night of playing long toward Joao - a tactic that eventually bore fruit in the reverse fixture but never looked threatening this time out.  I wonder if we set up like this against sides with big, strong forwards so that there's no weakness that they can exploit. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case as Ikpeazu bullied the backline at points. None of the defence played  badly  but they weren't set up to succeed - especially after going a goal down. If you set your side out to keep things tight, you have to actually follow through.  Morrison has to get acr

Reading 0-2 Middlesbrough

There was probably enough on the game at the weekend to call it a six-pointer, and The Royals failed to extend their advantage over the chasing pack. First and foremost, while Reading have lost the last three at home, the doom-mongering about playing at The Madejski is overdoing it. Yes, Reading have not been very good on their own patch for the last few seasons but that has markedly improved this campaign. Despite the losses, they've posted 27 points from 16 games, compared to 25, 30, and 23 in the full seasons since our play-off defeat. Not only have we improved in relation to ourselves, but we're also very respectable in the wider Championship picture. Only five teams have more points at home, and they're the five teams that occupy the top six with us. The teams we've lost against recently are the second-best team in the division, a team unbeaten in seven with the seventh-best away record, and a Boro side who would have had no trouble getting up for potentially one o

Bristol City 0-2 Reading

 A well-deserved victory, although not one that was particularly hard-fought. Let's be honest, Bristol City were poor. They managed just five shots, and all from the penalty spot or beyond, and going the other way was no better. Reading consistently managed to get players into half-spaces and played some dangerous balls across the box without reward, before breaking the deadlock with another Olise > Joao free-kick. So, given the nature of the game wasn't particularly enthralling or enlightening, the main talking point seemed to revolve around the substitutions or lack thereof. Josh Laurent was out of the game after what seemed to be a summation of smaller knocks, and some of the squad have played (and will continue to play) a lot of football this month. While those substitutions were eventually made with five minutes left, the first sub was to put Tom Holmes on for Esteves, who may have been suffering from a lack of game time recently but was hardly the most pressing case. A

Reading 1-2 Millwall

Ouch. Thankfully not many games this season have held the gut punch of Saturday, but it's always nice for Reading to stay grounded in their past. Things were fun right from the team selection on Saturday, as Veljko Paunovic opted for four centre-backs across the defence. Presumably to manage Yiadom's return from injury, and potentially to give Richards a slight rest in the middle of a busy February schedule.  The talking point as the match got underway was Alfa Semedo dropping into the midfield screen with Andy Rinomhota taking his place at CAM. Rinomhota's tireless running was admirable, but rarely caused issues. He didn't make a key pass and failed to wrap his foot round a volley in a great position after Bialkowski saved Olise's free-kick. The decision to split up the midfield pairing of Laurent and Rinomhota, without resting either, could end up being a decision to regret, though maybe the reassurance of a decent Semedo performance will allow for that down the l

Manchester United 0-2 Reading

Manchester United hadn't lost at home in a year, but nobody told Kelly Chambers' side. The most notable change was Lily Woodham coming in at left-back, meaning Emma Mitchell moved over to the right. Mitchell was instrumental, with her set pieces being the difference. Late on she also made a couple of crucial tackles in quick succession inside her own penalty area. The only real blot on her copybook was a couple of fouls she gave away in dangerous positions. Reading's first goal came from a corner on the right-hand side. They packed the six-yard box, as they so often do, with the help of a fair number of Manchester United shirts in amongst it. Mitchell's inswinger was helped on its way by Eikeland at the near post and ended up looping up for Harding to turn in. There were questions over whether it had hit Carter's arm on the way through but that just goes to show how stupid it is to have a handball rule that requires VAR to enforce it. Cooper's run is completely

Reading 1-3 Brentford

 Reading played an excellent match for eighty-five minutes before coming unstuck toward the end. The first thing to say is it's great to have Yiadom back in the team. It was clear what we've been missing down that right-hand side, with Yiadom a much more aggressive full-back than Holmes. Losing Holmes did, however, necessitate bringing in Semedo. Not just because Swift was injured, but also to bolster the team for set-pieces at both ends, alongside the reasons I gave in a post about Semedo . Joao's penalty was a re-run of those we've seen before, but with less aplomb. Raya will feel unhappy that he didn't manage to keep it out after he got a hand to it. While Joao's penalty are usually more convincing, he needs to figure out a consistent second tactic - going to the keeper's right is already well scouted. Laurent falling away, combined with Richards assuming the ball is going to Henry, gives Dasilva the space he needs The manner that Brentford managed to dra

Stoke City 0-0 Reading

A game that could put even the most ardent supporter to sleep. Stoke barely troubled Rafael, while Gunn only had a solitary shot to deal with at the other end. There was some talk about whether Yiadom should start, or come on at half time after an underwhelming offensive first half from Holmes, but Holmes was crucial when dealing with aerial balls into the box. It was particularly important from set-pieces where Stoke had the towering pair of Batth and Souttar. Holmes was fairly consistently able to get first contact, or at the very least put off his opposite number. Without Semedo or Meite in the team Holmes has a pretty crucial role that Yiadom just can't pull off. That may not be enough to keep him in the side given Reading's offensive woes in the last two away games, but height seems to be the manager's comfort blanket. In fact, it was a very good afternoon for academy grad defenders named Tom, as The Other Tom also put in an assured performance against Steven Fletcher.

Aston Villa 2-2 Reading

 Not for the first time this season, Reading failed to follow up on an impressive point last time out. Reading's movement opened space for Fishlock before a second trigger saw three players follow the shot in. Things started well, as Reading scored their obligatory early set-piece goal. Those on the edge of the box all made runs to open space for Fishlock, who arrived late to the edge of the area. Her shot was parried straight into the path of Angharad James to turn home.  It was a smart routine with the runners being crucial, even if they were never going to get the ball. The pass back to Rachel Rowe was the trigger to make space for Fishlock on the edge of the area, and then the midfielder shaping to shoot saw runners looking to capitalise on any rebound. There were less positive things to say when defending a free-kick early in the second half. Natalie Haigh somehow slid the ball past Rowe and allowed the impressive Mana Iwabuchi to level the score from six yards. Rowe wasn'

Reading 3-1 Bournemouth

What. A. Win. There's something extra special about a victory when TMc gets involved in the goals, isn't there?  Reading's set-piece routines have been a staple of Paunovic's reign to this point, and they were the difference-maker again with Tom McIntyre becoming an increasingly important piece to the puzzle. His header and then volley at the back post gave Laurent the chance to prod home from close range. Much like The Royals, Bournemouth seem to be dragged toward the front post, which gave McIntyre a free header deep. McIntyre and Joao are looking to pounce, while Ejaria is an option even if Begovic pushes the ball wider While the home side have to be thankful to Begovic for McIntyre's doubling of the lead, it was clever positioning of the defender at the back post. That, along with the shot being across the Bournemouth goalkeeper, meant there was always a good chance that TMc would get at least a stab at the ball. In general, goalkeepers like to parry free-kicks