Middlesbrough v Reading
Saturday 30th August 2014, KO 3PM
The Riverside Stadium
Referee: Darren Bond
Form (all comps): WWLLW
Reading v Newport: 3-1
Reading v Ipswich: 1-0
Reading v Huddersfield: 1-2
Nottingham Forest v Reading: 4-0
Scunthorpe v Reading: 0-1
Reading showed resilience to respond to the Nottingham Forest horror show when they booked their place in the third round of the Capital One cup with a 1-0 victory over Scunthorpe at Glanford Park on Tuesday evening. Jake Taylor scored for the Royals 5 minutes from time and they can now look forward to a third round tie against fellow Championship side Derby County at the iPro stadium next month. This win provided a welcome boost after two disappointing league defeats to Huddersfield at home and Notting Forest away most recently. Without wanting to sound like a broken record it was a young side that took to the field at Glanford Park and saw defender Jake Cooper and strikers Craig Tanner and Jamie Mackie make their full Reading debuts. Aaron Khul extended his run in the side partnering Hope Akpan in the centre of midfiled while there was a debut for Sean Long when he replaced Shaun Cummings just after half-time.
The Royals now look forward to a trip to Middlesbrough and the Riverside Stadium on Saturday afternoon and will look to build on their mid-week result to try and rekindle the form which saw them take a point away to Wigan and beat Ipswich at home in their opening two league games.
Form (all comps): WLWLW
Oldham v Middlesbrough (league cup): 0-3
Leeds v Middlesbrough: 1-0
Bolton v Middlesbrough: 1-2
Middlesbrough v Sheffield Wednesday: 2-3
Middlesbrough v Preston (league cup): 3-1
Middlesbrough are experiencing mixed form in this early part of the season and haven’t managed back to back wins to date. Boro, like Reading, won their Capital One Cup second round match, beating Preston at the Riverside Stadium on Tuesday and were drawn away to Liverpool in the next round. This result was preceded by a 3-2 home defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in a game which saw Boro go three-nil down only to recover two goals in a fight-back that ultimately came to nothing. Among the other recent results was a 1-0 defeat away to a struggling Leeds side and a 2-1 away win at Bolton.
The big players to leave the club this summer were Marvin Emnes and Lukas Jutkiewicz joining Swansea and Burnley respectively. The club have however brought in a number of players including Adam Clayton from Huddersfield, Lee Tomlin from Peterborough and defender Ryan Fredericks from Tottenham on a season-long loan.
If the win-lose pattern were to continue Reading are in for a good afternoon however this is the Championship and Middlesbrough have shown they have character even if they did fall short against Sheffield Wednesday. These are two teams both struggling to find their feet in terms of stringing results together and I expect a tight contest.
Head to Head
With 25 previous meetings it is Middlesbrough that have the slightly superior record with 9 wins to Reading’s 7 while 9 ended in stalemate. The first meeting between these two sides was back in April 1927 when Reading hosted Middlesbrough in the old second division and ran out 2-1 winners that day. It was the start of a baron run for Reading which meant they had to wait 68 years for their next success against Boro when in 1995 they secured a 1-0 away win in the old first division. In more recent times Reading have won three out of their last five meetings with Middlesbrough including a 2-0 win at the Madejski Stadium in April. In terms of games at the Riverside in the last 10 years Readings form reads: LWDLWL which is a win percentage of 33%. The corresponding fixture last season saw the Royals slump to a 3-0 defeat thanks to goals from Albert Adomah and a double from Grant Leadbitter who already has four goals for Boro this season and is their top scorer.
Last Five meetings
Championship - Reading 2 - 0 Middlesbrough - 22 Apr 2014
Championship - Middlesbrough 3 - 0 Reading - 29 Dec 2013
Championship - Middlesbrough 0 - 2 Reading - 25 Feb 2012
Championship - Reading 0 - 0 Middlesbrough - 01 Oct 2011
Championship - Reading 5 - 2 Middlesbrough - 05 Mar 2011
Reading: Shaun Cummings added his name to the ever lengthening Reading injury list when he limped out of Tuesday’s game at Scunthorpe. He joins Garath McCleary, Jem Karacan, Stephen Kelly, Danny Williams, Danny Guthrie, Aaron Tshibola, Hal Robson-Kanu Pavel Pogrebnyak, Jordan Obita and Michael Hector on the sidelines, a quite staggering list of absentees. However the latter three will face late fitness tests for Saturday’s game and Danny Guthrie may make the bench but will not start. Anton Ferdinand continues to work on his match fitness and won’t be available until after the international break and Nick Blackman has suffered a knee injury and will have a scan but he could be out for several weeks. The one piece of good news is that Oliver Norwood will be free to play after missing the Scunthorpe game as he was cup tied.
Line up v Nottingham Forest: Federici, Gunter, Hector, Pearce, Cummings, Taylor, Obita, Edwards, Khul, Cox, Blackman.
Middlesbrough: New signing Ryan Fredericks could be in the squad for the match against the Royals however he is unlikely to dislodge Damia Abella at right-back after only signing on Thursday. Lee Tomlin, who scored a brace against Preston in the League Cup, is likely to continue his partnership with Kike upfront after news that the club this week had cancelled the contract of £1 million striker Kei Kamara by mutual consent. Mustapha Carayol will miss the visit of Reading through injury but defender Ben Gibson could return to make his first appearance of the season.
Line-up v Sheffield Wednesday: Tomas, Damia, Friend, Ayala, Omeruo, Reach, Whitehead, Leadbitter, Adomah, Tomlin, Kike.