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Reading 2-2 Swansea City

Reading consigned themselves to another series in the Championship after failing to beat a lacklustre Swansea team.

Little pressure on the ball and packing the midfield may work for Reading's opponents sans-Swift, but he can pick passes with ease

Swansea's lone striker meant that the home side's defence had plenty of time on the ball. Much was made of Moore's attempted long balls out from the back. I think that him taking responsibility for attempting to progress the ball is positive, even if he didn't get it right on this occasion. It must be said that he's normally got a better success rate. In fact, it was only one of two occasions this season where he's failed to make a single long ball.

The other way to progress the ball is through the midfield, and with John Swift back in the side, that was a much more realistic option. Rino and Laurent often looked to make runs forward to open space for Swift deeper. His range of passing and vision is superior to anyone else in the squad. We also saw a little set play with Holmes passing to Swift coming back toward his own goal, and the midfielder playing one-touch out to the right. It was a simple move, but one that helped move up the pitch.

One of the most frustrating aspects of Reading's play was the constant passing up of the overlap. It's something that the side have consistently done, using the overlap as a decoy while the man on the ball then has the space to put a cross in. It does, however, mean that they never end up getting to the byline. Meite is good at attacking the ball, as seen for the first goal, but Joao really isn't. He's only scored one headed goal in the league since joining and that was from all of about a yard out. 

All of this came together for Reading's first goal. A Swift ball out to the left-wing from deep saw Richards win a throw. The left-back ended up on the ball and passed to Joao on the edge, who laid the ball back to Swift. Swansea put absolutely no pressure on The Royals best player, and he placed it onto Meite's head. It did help that the left back stayed ridiculously deep instead of stepping up with the rest of his team, but it's a perfect header in off the post.

Don't let him do that to you. Even here you can see Holmes should probably engage (or at least look to stay in his position) rather than back off

Reading were the better team right up until the introduction of André Ayew. From there the game turned on its head, and Swansea were level just a couple of minutes later. The Ghanian international received the ball against the touchline on the right-hand side, drew the attention of a trio of blue Royal blue, and rolled it through the captain's legs and into the path of the untracked Jay Fulton.

I think that Holmes was probably a little too worried about Lowe behind him, where Yiadom could have taken over, and that allowed Fulton a free run without resistance. Not for the first time, Rafael didn't deal with the shot and gave Lowe a tap in. It wasn't good enough to allow Ayew the opportunity to playmake with three around him, for none of those players to instead track Fulton, or by the goalkeeper at the end.

Between The Swans' goals, the game was fairly even - although a little bitty. Lucas Joao could (and probably should) have had a penalty for being dragged down in the box from a corner. Reading just haven't been getting those calls this season. Earlier in the season one of the procession of set pieces that Olise took may have been converted anyway, but there were some average deliveries, and some decent defending to stop the right players from getting on the end of things.

Semedo doesn't track the initial run, Moore goes into block mode and Ayew has an easy tap in

And then everything truly fell apart. Bidwell took control of the ball out on the left, played a simple one-two with Lowe and raced into the area. A little feint saw Laurent protect the wrong passing lane, and Ayew had another tap in (that he decided to blast past the block of Moore anyway). 

The biggest failing was Semedo's failure to follow The Swans' left back, or attempt to make up the ground. Laurent effectively tried to stop the cutback, which is his usual role, and Richards edged toward the same option. Combining all that with Moore getting far too deep - ending up behind Rafael at one point - allowed Ayew the space to take a touch and shoot.

That sort of play is one that Reading just don't have the ability to make. It's hard to imagine Joao ending up in Ayew's position - he normally likes to hang out for the cutback, or for Ovie to attack the area with that kind of pace. Admittedly, some of that is down to opposition crowding out the left wing but it's also not an option from the other side - particularly when Meite plays his hybrid role.

Esteves getting the goal he's been trying for all season was at least a nice way to end it. Olise drew a couple of players out, and then slid it across to Aluko. It was the closest to that proper cutback Reading got all game, and it found the Portuguese full back on the edge of the area. His finish with his wrong foot is the sort of thing I thought we'd see a bit more of this year, but expectations were probably a little too high for a nineteen-year-old playing his first full season.

Realistically the hope for Reading's season was already extinguished, but every time they've needed a result they've erred. The build for next year starts now (or at least started when this game ended, not when this is eventually getting posted).


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