Reading’s opponents in the second round of the Carabao Cup come in the form of high-flying League Two side Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday.
The Pilgrims have made a brilliant start in the fourth tier of English football this season, sitting second after winning three of their five games so far, drawing one and only losing one match. This defeat came at Newport County, who reached the playoff final last season against Tranmere Rovers.
Their 2-0 win against Leyton Orient in round one has taken them to this position. Can they upset the odds and beat a Reading side who are starting to gain momentum in the Championship?
What? Carabao Cup Round 2
Who? Plymouth Argyle
Where? Home Park
When? Tuesday 27th August (7:45pm KO)
Our last Carabao Cup clash: Wycombe Wanderers 1-1 Reading (2-4 pens)
The last meeting between Reading and the side from Buckinghamshire before this fixture came in 2002 at Adams Park. Reading won 2-0 that night and were looking for a scoreline similar to that to advance through to the second round, but penalties were needed to separate the two sides after 90 minutes.
Alex Samuel opened the scoring for the League One side after Lucas Boye went close to opening the score for Reading a couple of times. George Puscas latched on to a through ball from John Swift to equalise for the Royals, following up on a save from the Wycombe goalkeeper.
George Puscas, Sam Baldock, John Swift and Danny Loader all converted their penalties for Reading, while Nick Freeman and Fred Onyedinma had theirs saved by Rafael on his first start for the Berkshire side. This victory in round one allowed the Royals to progress to this stage where they now face off against Plymouth Argyle, who will be looking to cause an upset.
The last meeting
Reading 2-0 Plymouth Argyle
First-half goals from Dutch duo Joey van den Berg and Roy Beerens separated the two sides when they last met. This 2016/17 meeting at the Madejski Stadium was just the start of what would be a very good season for the Royals, who reached the playoff final in that campaign.
Argyle did have their chances in this game, most notably from two set pieces. However, it wasn’t meant to be and Reading progressed through to round two of the EFL Cup, beating MK Dons on penalties, before defeating Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 at the Amex in the third round. Tyler Blackett was sent off in that game on the south coast, but goals from Stephen Quinn and John Swift were enough to get to the fourth round.
Reading were knocked out though at the hands of Arsenal and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Two goals from the England international were enough to send the Premier League side through to the fifth round.
- Plymouth Argyle have conceded just three goals in five games in the league so far in this 2019/20 season. Two of these came against Salford City last week.
- In every competitive game that Plymouth have won so far, they have kept a clean sheet. This includes their 2-0 win over Leyton Orient in the last round.
- Reading have only kept one clean sheet in their past five Carabao Cup games, coming against Birmingham City in round one last season.
- Reading are unbeaten in their past four competitive games. Wins against Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town, as well as draws against Wycombe Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion have allowed the Royals to gain momentum.
Likely Reading lineup: Virginia, Obita, McIntyre, Moore, Osho, Howe, Rinomhota, Adam, Barrett, Boye, Loader
Even though it would be good for the first team to keep that momentum and get another win at Plymouth this Tuesday, the Royals have had a very busy schedule in the past couple of weeks and it would make sense to give some of the fringe players a chance to show what they can do.
Joao Virginia has had a very shaky start and could benefit from playing in a game with less pressure. He will not want to make any more costly errors during his time in Berkshire. Academy graduates Tom McIntyre and Gabriel Osho could come in alongside Liam Moore to provide continuity in terms of the back three.
Jordan Obita may also be given a start against Plymouth if he feels ready to get in and amongst the action. Omar Richards could certainly do with a rest. Teddy Howe may also start on Tuesday after impressing in pre-season for the Royals.
Andy Rinomhota hasn’t started the past couple of games, with Ovie Ejaria, John Swift and Pele keeping him out the side. He’s likely to start against the League Two side, perhaps alongside veteran Charlie Adam who will be eager to get a run out in the first team. Josh Barrett, who’s yet to feature regularly this season, could play in a more advanced position in midfield. Other than cup games, the young Irishman may not play a lot this season.
George Puscas and Lucas Joao may start at the weekend against Charlton Athletic, which could persuade Jose Gomes to play Lucas Boye - who impressed against Wycombe Wanderers in Reading’s last Carabao Cup game - against Plymouth in a duo with a younger striker. Danny Loader could be that man after scoring the winning penalty against Wycombe.
Score Prediction: Plymouth Argyle 0-1 Reading
Other Carabao Cup fixtures involving Championship teams on Tuesday
Leeds United vs Stoke City
Nottingham Forest vs Derby County
Preston North End vs Hull City
Sheffield United vs Blackburn Rovers
Cardiff City vs Luton Town
Fulham vs Southampton
Oxford United vs Millwall