The Royals look to build on their apparent change in fortunes of late as Ipswich visit RG2 on Saturday. Ipswich Town come to Berkshire in very poor form with just one win all season, so they will see the trip to 22nd-placed Reading as a good chance to close the gap on the rest of the Championship.
Paul Clement’s side shouldn’t have too many shots to deal with, as the Tractor Boys average just 2.4 efforts on target per game, the worst in the division. They seem to have a similar issue to us over the years, with players afraid to pull the trigger from around the area. Attacking midfielder Jon Nolan (currently injured), a summer recruit from Shrewsbury Town, has the highest average shots per game in the side - and he only averages 1.7.
As a result, Ipswich have scored just 12 times in the league so far this season. Only fellow-strugglers Bolton Wanderers have found the net less often. Reading have comfortably outscored Saturday’s opposition, with a total of 22.
No side in the Championship gets forward down the right side of the pitch more than Ipswich who use that flank for 45% of their attacks. That suggests Reading’s left-back - probably Tyler Blackett - could have a busy afternoon on Saturday. The Royals’ left-winger, likely one of Sam Baldock or Modou Barrow, will need to track back.
Defensively, Ipswich are slightly better than their 24th place would suggest, having conceded just 26 goals - one fewer than Reading. 46% of the goals they have let in have come from open play, 42% from set pieces, 8% own goals and the final 4% from the penalty spot. This clearly shows that they struggle with defensive positioning and tracking the runs of their opposition, and the Royals should look to exploit that from the first whistle.
The Tractor Boys also have trouble dealing with pace, as shown by their average of 13.1 fouls conceded per game, so that should be some encouragement for the Royals. Players like Barrow, Baldock and Garath McCleary should make the most of Ipswich’s defensive struggles and try to get at them as much as possible.
I can’t see this being a good game at all, and I am going to go with 1-0 Reading. It will be incredibly cagey and neither team will want to take risks in this relegation six-pointer. It is arguably the Royals’ most important game of the season, especially after last weekend’s positive result against Bristol City. If we can make it a second win on the trot, maybe we might start to turn a corner.