For 70 minutes this looked like another underwhelming and lacklustre away defeat for Reading, yet Liam Kelly’s second-half penalty gave us some hope to cling on to, as Reading escaped West London with a point against Brentford. We’ll have a full report and set of player ratings up later this weekend but for now here’s the key details.
The bad news for Jaap Stam heading into this one was the absence of Modou Barrow who was seemingly ruled out by injury. Into the side came Garath McCleary, while Dave Edwards made his first Royals start in place of Leandro Bacuna, who dropped to the bench.
Early on it was end to end stuff, with both teams showing equal measures of quality mixed with moments of really sloppy play. Jon Dadi Bodvarsson had the best of Reading’s openings but it was Brentford who struck first when Josh Clarke played a neat one two with Neal Maupay before smashing past Mannone at his near post. The tracking from the Reading midfield was poor, the defensive positioning was weak and Mannone himself could perhaps have done better. All round it was a rather lame effort to concede for a team managed by a legendary defender in Stam, yet sadly one we’ve seen far too often.
Reading struggled to find a way back into the game, a path that seemed even more tricky when Bodvarsson was subbed off for Roy Beerens at the break. Yet the change did help spark a slight upturn in our play, as we started the second period the better of the two sides, with Beerens himself nearly beating Daniel Bentley.
However, it seemed as if that early steam had faded as Brentford had a couple of big chances of their own, only for Reading to be gifted a way back into the contest with 20 minutes to go. Rico Henry brought down Liam Moore in the box, giving Liam Kelly the chance to stroke home a penalty for his fourth goal of the campaign.
Jordan Obita came on for his first minutes of the season, while Bacuna replaced Kelly, but there was to be no late winner for either side, despite Aluko slamming the bar.
Ultimately a point each seemed a fair result but with just eight points from seven games, it’s the weakest start for a Reading side at this level since Brian McDermott’s team picked up seven in 2011/12, then again, that season didn’t end too badly did it?
So while there’s still plenty of questions for Stam to answer, avoiding back-to-back defeats is a positive. The result, also gives us some sort of platform to build off heading into a Carabao Cup tie with Swansea, followed by the visit of Hull next weekend.
Again, we’ll be back with a full report and ratings later this weekend, plus the Tilehurst End Podcast is back with myself & Westy on Monday, so get your thoughts in as usual for that one.
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, Moore, McShane, Blackett (Obita), Van den Berg, Edwards, Kelly (Bacuna), McCleary, Bodvarsson (Beerens), Aluko