It was another crucial afternoon for Paul Clement and the Reading squad as Bristol City visited the Madejski. An entertaining game to say the least, came down to who could be more clinical. Fortunately for everyone at the club that turned out to be Reading. it was a real gritty showing in the second half, which was superb to watch given how much City’s equaliser in first half stoppage time hurt the Royals. The back four and Sam Walker n goal were superb after the break, not gifting many openings, aside from the vital save from Walker with around ten minutes renaming.
Reading got off to a brilliant start, and made their best start to a home game all season. Fluidity, higher tempo and crisp passing made for a dominant opening twenty minutes. Yakou Meite scored yet again with an instinctive finish inside 10 minutes. his afternoon was cut off early after picking up an impact injury, and his fitness will be of huge concern after Jon Dadi Bodvarsson was ruled out for minimum of six weeks.
Marlon Pack, by far City’s best performer equalised neatly which led to a strong last twenty-five minutes in the first half for City. Josh Brownhill scored a scrappy leveler after Liam Kelly’s beautiful goal as the game entered injury time.
I’ve very much been on Kelly’s case this season. Despite his age, his performances haven’t been anywhere the standards of his first season under Jaap Stam. we perhaps got an indication of why these performances have dipped. Saturday’s game saw Clement switch the roles of him and Leandro Bacuna. Instead of playing a more advanced role, with Bacuna playing as more of an anchor, the roles were reversed. This allowed for Kelly to have much more time and space on the ball, and he showed his ability. I also prefer Leandro Bacuna more advanced, as his strongest assets are pressing and breaking up play.
Andy Rinomhota made his first start, and put in a superb display, showing tremendous fitness, work rate and composure on the ball. He provided much more balance than what we’ve seen in recent showings.
Mo Barrow produced an assist on his return to the side to set up Bacuna who slotted calmly to win the game for the Royals, and cap off a strong individual display. Garath McCleary got some more minutes in the tank, adding to the positive aspects of the performance.
In truth I was expecting a little more from Lee Johnson’s side, who lacked some game management and didn’t deal too well with the Royals’ threat. They would’ve been hopeful of leaving with at least a point.
It’s vital that the squad enjoy the victory and work hard in the build up to next weekend’s game against Ipswich, which is a must-win. I’ll be previewing that game kater in the week. Overall it was a positive performance, with lots of areas for improvement, and ultimately Paul Clement survives another week.
Picture Credit: Reading FC