This fixture on Good Friday sees play-off contenders Bristol City face off against lowly Reading. A win for the Berkshire side would pretty much secure their Championship status for another season. However, a loss could drag the Royals back in to the scrap, with other relegation rivals also playing this Friday.
An early morning wake-up awaits the travelling Reading fans. The 12:00 kick off in Bristol will be of great interest to teams around the relegation zone, who will be fascinated to see how Reading do in this game.
Teams in and around the play-off zone will be hoping that Reading get something out of this fixture to boost their chances of gaining ground on Bristol City, who currently sit in sixth position.
The last five
Bristol City: WWDWL
Frank Fielding is continuing to recover from a fractured hand and is likely to miss the rest of the season. New Zealand goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic was signed on a short-term deal to cover Fielding’s spot. However, young keeper Max O’Leary has claimed the number one jersey in the past few games. Their goalkeeping injury woes seem to have stabilised recently after a crisis in that department earlier on this year.
Their disappointing away defeat to Aston Villa meant that the Villans went above them in the table. Home draws against relegation-threatened sides Ipswich Town and Wigan Athletic will be seen as missed opportunities for City, who are currently competing in a very tight battle for play-off spots. However, their recent wins against play-off rivals West Brom and Middlesbrough could be crucial in the final couple of games, where they have the chance to solidify their place in the top six.
John Swift is out of Friday’s tie against Bristol City after Jose Gomes confirmed in the week that the playmaker is sidelined for the rest of the season. However, the midfield looks just as strong with Andy Rinomhota, Lewis Baker and Ovie Ejaria in the middle. Saied Ezatolahi may also be back in time for the end of the season, having made good progress recently and featuring for the under-23s last Friday. His signing could be made permanent if he impresses Jose Gomes in the last few games of the season.
A vital win against Brentford last Saturday has taken the Royals one step closer to safety. However, they may require a few more points if they are to guarantee safety before the last match of the season against Birmingham City. A disappointing second-half performance against Hull City at the start of April is one of the only blips in what has been a successful couple of months for the club.
3/11/2018: Reading 3-2 Bristol City
26/12/2017: Bristol City 2-0 Reading
9/9/2017: Reading 0-1 Bristol City
2/1/2017: Bristol City 2-3 Reading
26/11/2016: Reading 2-1 Bristol City
Reading have had a mixed spell of games against Bristol City in recent years, including two 3-2 wins. The pick of those matches has to be the 3-2 win in the 2016/17 season where the Royals came from 2-0 down. Liam Kelly’s clever finish and two strikes from Yann Kermorgant completed the comeback that day.
The reverse fixture this season saw Bristol City equalise twice at the Madejski Stadium before Leandro Bacuna slotted in the winner, after a well-worked move by the Royals. With City completing the double over the Royals in the 2017/18 season, Reading will be looking to do the same to the Robins this season with a win at Ashton Gate this Friday.
- Bristol City sit just one point above seventh placed Middlesbrough. However, City have a game in hand, something they will need to take advantage of if they are to stay in the playoff places.
- The Robins have the worst scoring record in the top six, scoring 55 goals in 42 league games this season, four behind second and third-placed sides Leeds United and Sheffield United. League leaders Norwich City have scored 85.
- Reading have lost just three of their last ten league games, winning four and drawing the remaining three fixtures.
- The Royals were on 42 points after 42 league games last season. After 42 games this season, they are two betters better off, on 44 points. However, they risk of relegation remains.
Was it last week’s win against Brentford? Is it Jose Gomes? Whatever it is, I’m strangely optimistic for this game against a very good Bristol City side. It might be another match where Gomes deploys five at the back, with Tyler Blackett slotting in at the back.
Defensive solidity will be needed and, if this can be achieved, Reading have a chance of getting something out of this game. If they do, it will put them one step closer to safety, something that’s desperately needed to avoid a nerve-racking final day like last year.
I’m going to go for an eventful, controversy-filled 1-1 draw. Yakou Meite or Nelson Oliveira to get on the scoresheet again? I think so. Come on URZ!
Bristol City 1-1 Reading