Here’s a question for you: how many matches have Aston Villa lost at Villa Park since Joseph Mendes grabbed the most unexpected brace since Mathieu Manset’s against Millwall on opening day in 2011? The answer - just twice, whereas Reading in comparison have won just five times away in the league since that 3-1 win in April 2016.
At one point on Wednesday night that stat looked set to change slightly in our favour. However, Reading throwing away a two goal lead at Ewood Park and Villa’s 95th minute equaliser at home to Brentford just goes to demonstrate the resolve of each team and the confidence that a record can bring to a side. That can be either a feeling of invincibility in front of your own fans or a sense of dread when you concede on the road.
A lot’s been said and written about Reading’s generally atrocious away record, so I’ll change the subject to our even worse overall record versus Aston Villa. In eighteen league meetings we’ve recorded just three wins but seen eleven defeats - the good news though is that two of those wins have come within our last three meetings against the West Midlands side.
However, overall history still doesn’t add much cause for optimism; in fact, our only ever win at Villa Park was that aforementioned game in 2016. In our eleven other matches at Villa Park we’ve suffered ten defeats and just one draw – an FA Cup game in 1912. It doesn’t exactly hint at things going well on Saturday when you combine that with the sides’ respective current home and away records.
Finding the net on the road
For those of you who enjoy it when Reading score away from home (who doesn’t?), Wednesday night was certainly pleasant for you, as Jon Dadi’s brace were our first goal on the road since March 17 at Norwich City. The Royals had previously gone five games without an away goal.
Last season we failed to score on ten occasions away from home, which is our worst away goals record in the 21st century. So, hands up those of you who just love it when Reading’s bad form is compared with the relegation season of 1997/98? Me too! So you’re gonna love this…
The last time we drew so many blanks on the road in the league was in… drumroll please… 1997/98! Who’d have thunk it? You can see the handy table below if you really don’t believe me.
That season we scored in just nine of our away games, with fourteen ‘something - nils’ to the opposition. And that season we were… relegated (shock). Although last season we did of course escape by the skin of our teeth, it does say something about our set-up on the road throughout the campaign and the overall negativity creeping over previously much-loved away days.
Things have to get better away from home this season, a pretty straightforward conclusion to take away from all this, but at least two goals at Ewood Park on Wednesday night is a step in the right direction.
How can Reading do better on the road? Leave us a comment below.