After going into the International break on such a positive note, it was back down to earth with a resounding bump for Reading as they were beaten 1-0 at home by Bristol City. Here’s our initial thoughts, with a full report and set of ratings to follow.
As mentioned, morale was high going into this one after the win at Birmingham. Pre-Deadline Day signing Sone Aluko started as part of a forward three, with fellow new boy Dave Edwards on the bench, later coming on to replace the injured Liam Kelly.
Reading were the brighter side in the first half, with Kelly and Barrow particularly promising, yet for all the hard work, final balls and attempts on goal just lacked quality. At the other end, Bristol City showed why they’d been beaten just once this season with some stubborn defending and the ability to sneak forward on the break, not to mention a near comedy own goal from Reading.
One of the big flash points came towards the end of the half when Nathan Baker hacked down a rampaging Mo Barrow. Unlike our meeting with Fulham in August, this time only a yellow was shown and it proved to be a key moment.
Yet after a blistering start to the second half from Reading, all signs pointed to a home win. However, when Jon Dadi Bodvarsson missed an absolute sitter with around 20 minutes to go... you just got the feeling a sting was in the tail.
Sure enough it came five minutes from time. Aden Flint, who nearly left City several times in the transfer window popped up and finished well.
Reading huffed and puffed but couldn’t find an equaliser, sealing a first Saturday home defeat under Jaap Stam.
It’s easy to look at this one and say ‘why didn’t we sign a ruddy striker’ yet even without a new signing, Reading should have finished this one off. The lack of a killer instinct, a hallmark of the entire Stam era, was once again painfully evident here and it’s the reason more than any other, that we’ll very much struggle to get anywhere near the top two come May.
This isn’t a result to panic over, nor was it an awful performance that deserved a sound beating. Instead this was a reminder of just how tough the Championship can be and just where we really stand in the pecking order. There was a lot of talk about ‘luck’ last season and while luck is a poor word to use, nearly every statistic pointed to Reading getting more than they deserved. This was a classic example of those odds being evened up. Simply put, we didn’t take our chances and they did.
Unless we find that killer instinct and soon, it’s going to be a big scrap to get back in the top six. It’s far from mission impossible but it’s a stark reminder of how big a task it’ll be.
Stay tuned for a full report and ratings later this weekend. Until then, enjoy what’s left of the weekend.
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, Moore, McShane, Blackett, Kelly (Edwards), Bacuna, Van Den Berg, Aluko, Barrow (McCleary), Bodvarsson (Beerens)