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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 draw level will disappoint Josh Laurent. He was completely outplayed by Dasilva. The Bees' player drove past him before cutting back sharply, leaving Laurent off balance as he attempted to knick the ball away. From there he couldn't recover and Dasilva finished expertly into the far corner. Once Dasilva was past the first line of defence Richards should have come across, but he cheated on the pass back to Henry and left himself out of position - giving the midfielder the time he needed to get his shot off.

Rinomhota is effectively doubling up with Morrison, should be picking up the man on the edge, with Laurent on Dasilva

Skipping forward, Brentford breaking the deadlock was a perfect example of how you can't switch off for a second in these sorts of matches. Toney, peeling off at the back post, won the knock down, and Dasilva grabbed his second of the game. Both of the midfield screen were a little sloppy, not paying attention to where men were in the box. Rino should have handed off Ghoddos to Morrison and picked up the man on the edge, and that would have allowed Laurent to track Dasilva without leaving one over. With Morrison coming across McIntyre could have made the goalscorer's life harder by being further over to that side. Small errors, but the ability to punish them is what makes this Brentford side so good.

And not to flog a dead horse, but Rafael was almost solely at fault for the final goal. Again the goalkeeper failed to push a fairly straightforward shot wide and allowed Toney a simple finish. The defence wasn't particularly great either but they were looking to press on and only allowed a shot from twenty yards that the 'keeper got down to but didn't deal with.

Morro positions himself well to cut out the pass, and then comes across as Dasilva makes a poor touch

I was incredibly impressed with Morrison at the back. His reading of the game consistently put him in the best positions to stop Brentford's attack. McIntyre may have done the flashier bits - winning aerial duels and generally trying to keep Toney quiet - but Morrison came up good in big moments. He probably deserves Reading's motm award solely for stopping Toney from tapping in from a yard out, or coming across to stop Dasilva breaking the deadlock earlier after McIntyre lost a header to Toney, leaving the LCB out of position.

Brentford are a strong enough team to highlight that Reading's wide players are not necessarily being the best defensively. Ejaria has a tendency to react late to the man he's marking making a run, and Olise's game hasn't quite reached the level where you're comfortable with him going the other way yet. In the first half, the youngster allowed Jensen to have a (very difficult) shot on the volley because he was the wrong side, or he pressed a little early and opened up passing lanes. Admittedly, if it's not fatal with The Bees' ability, then it's not likely to cause too many issues going forward.

Quintessential Semedo. Steal the ball, lay it off to Joao.

I thought Semedo was fairly effective in his attacking role. Some of his build-up play was limited, but he helped Reading retain the ball, was always an option for Rafael, and disrupted Brentford. He still didn't turn when he had the opportunity, and his passing was more than a little wayward (his 62.1% pass accuracy was worst on the team), but he wasn't really meant to be involved after Reading established possession. His 43 touches was the 2nd fewest of outfield starters, which is presumably exactly how it's supposed to work - with only Joao lower. Olise was 2nd highest w/ 67 and Ovie had 58.

The one aspect that Reading didn't really capitalise on was having both Joao and Semedo in the box. There seemed to be an understanding for Semedo to push forward when the ball went wide, but that wasn't followed up on. It probably shouldn't be Reading's first option, given the talent in midfield, but there were a few occasions that it was clearly the best option. 

There's obviously no shame in losing out to a team whose year it must surely be, and particularly one that hasn't lost in aeons. It's frustrating to say after a 3-1 loss that we played well defensively, but playing like that against Millwall will surely be enough for three points.


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