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Blackburn Rovers Match Preview: A Tough Challenge For Reading FC

Bucks thinks that Tuesday night's game against strugglers Blackburn Rovers will be harder than you might think.

Burton Albion v Blackburn Rovers - Sky Bet Championship

Reading go into tomorrow night's match against Blackburn Rovers in understandably high spirits, having seen off super club Leeds United to move up to fourth in the Championship. Saturday's game was a tricky one, and Reading needed a big performance to manage it, but I think the Tuesday evening clash at the Madejski Stadium will be more difficult.

Here are two couple of reasons why.

Leeds didn't turn up

The result could have been very different if the visitors had actually played well, although Garry Monk claimed otherwise.

"...had we got an equaliser I don't think anyone would have begrudged us from that second half performance."

Which struck me as odd, as I never really felt that Leeds looked like scoring, or even troubling Ali Al-Habsi's clean sheet.

I'm not denying that Leeds are a good side - they're a very good side, as their play-off position suggests - but they didn't show that at the weekend. Yes, Reading played very well, but they've been pushed harder by other visitors to the Madejski Stadium.

Blackburn are a better side than their league position suggests

Going into this piece, I was going to go with something along the lines of 'Blackburn are in a relegation fight, so they'll put in a lot of effort, and will therefore make life tough for Reading'. However, that's not really a fair assessment.

Sure, Tony Mowbray's side do currently sit third from bottom in the league, but they have been on reasonable enough form recently. They've only lost two games in their last ten matches (by single goals, away at Sheffield Wednesday and Brighton), and have won twice in that period (at home to Derby County and Wigan).

That's far from the sign of a weak side that rolls over every week. Here are two more stats for you: Blackburn haven't conceded more than three goals in a single game since January, and haven't lost by more than one goal since December.

Add in the fact that Rovers have two goal-happy strikers in Danny Graham and Sam Gallagher (11 and 10 goals this season respectively), and they look even more dangerous.

Then again, our home form is very good

As I briefly discussed yesterday, Reading have been dominant at the Madejski Stadium, winning 13 of their 20 home matches, and losing only twice. We've also conceded the third fewest number of goals on our own patch (14) - only Brighton (11) and Leeds (12) can better that.

Further, in our six home games so far against relegation-threatened sides (I'm counting 16th and lower here), we've won five (Wolves, Ipswich, Burton, Nottingham Forest and Bristol City) and picked up a goalless draw against Birmingham City.

With only two exceptions (a 2-1 win for Aston Villa and a 1-0 from QPR), the Madejski Stadium has been a fortress.

So, will Reading win?

Yes, but narrowly - that's according to stats on both teams. Reading do win a lot at home, and Blackburn do tend to lose away at promotion-chasing sides (hence the losses to Brighton and Sheffield Wednesday which I mentioned earlier). However, neither of those things happen with big goal margins.

This isn't me having a go at Reading, or trying to put a dampener on the team's success this season. It's simply a reminder that the home match against Blackburn could be a lot harder than many of us think.