The last few weeks have seen the Jose Gomes revival of Reading spring into top gear. Draws against leaders Norwich City and play-off chasing Bristol City have been well received by the fans and pundits, and Reading are now unbeaten in their last three games after the collapse against Hull City at the start of the month.
We now face another play-off challenger in the form of West Brom who sit fourth in the Championship. The Baggies are looking to bounce straight back to the Premier League at the first attempt and have been a permanent fixture in the play-off places this season.
Reading can secure their Championship status if they win and Rotherham fail to do so against Birmingham City. A draw would effectively be enough should the Millers lose, with the Royals’ heavy goal difference advantage coming into play.
The Royals have no fresh injury concerns coming into this home fixture, although John Swift was recently ruled out for the season after an operation on his hip. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope to see him play again in August.
Nelson Oliveria could start up front after coming off the bench against Bristol City, and his strike partner Yakou Meite has continued his fantastic scoring run to three straight games taking him to 13 for the season. The Ivorian was rested half way through the game on Friday so will be fresh to lead the line once again.
It will be interesting to see if Reading continue to play five at the back after the success at Bristol or return to the 4-3-3 formation we saw against Brentford.
Top goalscorer: Yakou Meite (12)
West Bromwich Albion
Defender Ahmed Hegazi is the only doubt for Albion after being withdrawn with an ankle complaint against Hull City on Good Friday.
The Baggies travel to the Mad Stad in pursuit of a last push for automatic promotion. They have endured a mixed month with good results against Preston North End and Hull City but suffering disappointing defeats to Millwall and Bristol City. With Leeds United dropping points in their last two fixtures, the gap between them in second and Albion in fourth is now only six points. A defeat here would certainly end that pursuit, but they are guaranteed a play-off place with only two games to go.
Strikers Dwight Gale and Jay Rodriguez will be hoping to grab a goal or two here as they are both challenging for the division’s Golden Boot. They are on 23 and 21 goals respectively, with the Championship’s leading goalscorer, Teemu Pukki, on 27.
Top goalscorer: Dwight Gayle (23)
- The Royals are undefeated in their last 11 home matches against West Bromwich Albion in all competitions.
- The man in form, Yakou Meite, has now scored nine goals in his last 12 games at the Mad Stad.
- Nine of his 12 league goals this season have come at the Madejski Stadium.
- West Brom have won their last 10 away games when scoring first.
- Jose Gomes has only lost twice at home with Reading this season (Leeds United and Swansea City).
With Reading’s recent revival, this will be a very exciting contest compared to what we saw at the Hawthorns a few months ago. It looks to be another big attendance, so Reading will have the 12th man in their corner - which had certainly been missing earlier in the season.
West Brom are a very dangerous team on their day if their strikers are allowed to settle into the game. However, they are experiencing a slight wobble in form and the pressure to win will be bugging their players.
I am not confident that Reading will win here to secure safety as nothing is ever easy supporting this club. But I have faith they get something from this game and will hold a strong advantage compared to their relegation rivals.
Reading 1-1 West Brom