When the fixture list for this season was first released, this was the tie I was looking for first. After years and years without one, we are finally taking part in some sort of derby on tonight, when Wycombe Wanderers make the short trip from Buckinghamshire to face Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
The away side are yet to pick up a point in the Championship so far this season – and will be desperate to get off the mark tonight against the Royals who have made an amazing start to the campaign. Gareth Ainsworth, who is the Chairboys’ boss, has been linked with the managerial job at the Madejski Stadium multiple times so it will be interesting to see him on the touchline this evening.
Who will come out on top? For the sake of our momentum, I pray it’s the home side. Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this one.
What? Championship Matchday 6
Who? Wycombe Wanderers
Where? Madejski Stadium
When? Tuesday 20th October
Opposition Manager? Gareth Ainsworth
Even though we dropped points for the first time in the league this season at the weekend, picking up a point against Middlesbrough at the Riverside is a decent result. Before Saturday’s draw, Reading had lost their previous seven fixtures against Boro – so I was pleased just to get a point out of it. As we look ahead to our next two fixtures, both at the Madejski Stadium, we need to ensure we have our heads fully screwed on. Six points are there for the taking – but we must not underestimate Wycombe and Rotherham.
Thankfully, it seems we haven’t picked up any injuries from our meeting against Neil Warnock’s side – with Lucas Joao and Ovie Ejaria returning at the weekend after not playing in the Watford game. The former did appear on the bench against Vladimir Ivic’s team but was an unused substitute. New signing Alfa Semedo made his debut off the bench on Saturday, although Tomas Esteves didn’t make an appearance. It’s likely the Porto loanee will be given a chance to impress tonight, whether it’s from the start or off the bench.
John Swift, Andy Yiadom and Felipe Araruna remain out with their respective injuries.
Wycombe Wanderers: LLLLL
Although Wycombe lost on Saturday against Millwall, they did manage to score their first ever goal in the Championship, courtesy of some terrible footwork from Bartosz Bialkowski and great pressing by Scott Kashket. The 24-year-old will want to get on the scoresheet again on Tuesday – but he comes up against a formidable partnership in Liam Moore and Michael Morrison. At the other end of the pitch, they will be hoping to keep their first clean sheet of the season. Even if they don’t, the Chairboys will need to start picking up points sooner rather than later if they want to stay in the second tier.
Despite getting themselves on the scoresheet just a few days ago, another incident happened in the Millwall game which could prove to be mentally detrimental to Ainsworth’s side. At 1-1 with the game finely in the balance, they had a goal disallowed – and it’s fair to say Wycombe’s admin was absolutely incensed by it. Their gaffer will keen to put that to one side going in to this one – although this could make them hungrier for this win tonight.
The Last Meeting
Wycombe Wanderers 1 – 1 Reading (2-4 pens)
Although the two sides haven’t met in a league fixture since 2002, they did face off at Adams Park in a Carabao Cup tie last August.
Alex Samuel opened the scoring for the League One side just before the hour mark, after Lucas Boye went close for the away side a couple of times in the first half. However, George Puscas latched on to a through ball from John Swift to equalise for the Royals just four minutes later, following up on a save from the Wycombe goalkeeper.
George Puscas, Sam Baldock, John Swift and Danny Loader all converted their penalties for Reading, whilst Nick Freeman and Fred Onyedinma had their penalties saved by Rafael on what was his first start for the Berkshire side.
Before we move on to the next section, I’ll give you the starting lineup from that night: Rafael, Richards, Moore, Morrison, McIntyre, Rinomhota, Adam, Pele, Ejaria, Boye, Puscas.
The Last League Match
Middlesbrough 0 – 0 Reading
Another game, another clean sheet and another game unbeaten.
Michael Olise came close in the first half after some wonderful skill in the box, although Marcus Bettinelli managed to hold on to the ball just before Lucas Joao was able to pounce. Ovie Ejaria also came close a couple of times for the Royals in the second half with a couple of efforts from outside the box.
The home side did have a goal disallowed through Jonny Howson’s smart strike past Rafael, which was deemed to be offside. However, a draw was probably a fair result on the day.
- I have to shamefully recycle a statistic from before. One goal conceded in over 540 minutes of Championship football is very impressive – and a stat Veljko Paunovic and his team should take a lot of pride in.
- According to multiple websites, the Royals haven’t lost a competitive fixture against Wycombe Wanderers since 1999. Can the away side change that today?
- As I said in the intro, Wycombe have failed to pick up a single point this season. I’m rooting for them this season – but I hope they don’t break this duck tonight!
- The Chairboys have also conceded seven goals in their two Championship away games so far this season. Can the likes of Lucas Joao and Yakou Meite fill their boots against a leaky defence?
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Richards, Morrison, Moore, Esteves, Rinomhota, Laurent, Olise, Ejaria, Meite, Joao
Shamelessly, I have copied and pasted last week’s predicted lineup to this preview. The only change I can see happening is Tom Holmes making way for Tomas Esteves, barring any injuries or suspensions.
Rafael will start as per, with Omar Richards, Liam Moore and Michael Morrison forming a solid coalition in defence to keep clean sheets in all but one of their Championship games so far this season. Tom Holmes has also stepped up to the plate – and although questions remain on what he can offer going forward – his defensive solidity and confidence on the ball has been a good asset for the Royals to have.
However, Veljko Paunovic may opt to start Tomas Esteves to give us an additional threat going forward from out wide. I would fully welcome this change, although Holmes has done exceptionally well out of his natural position.
In midfield, the manager has another selection headache to deal with. Does he start Semedo ahead of Josh Laurent, or does he stick with what he knows best? For me, I would start Andy Rinomhota and Laurent to drive us on in midfield – although it would be fascinating to see how Alfa Semedo performs from the first whistle.
The three behind Joao remains the same for me with John Swift out, although we have Sone Aluko to come on and shake things up if he can perform like he did against Watford if things aren’t going to plan during the match.
Up top, it was great to see Lucas Joao back in the starting lineup – and even better to see him avoid injury at the Riverside. He is likely to start again ahead of George Pucas. Hopefully he can get himself back on the scoresheet – because he looked like a major threat before his injury against Cardiff City in the Welsh capital.
In terms of my score prediction, I don’t want to tempt fate. The Royals dropped points for the first time at the weekend – and that was the first time I predicted a Reading win this season. This game is also a classic banana skin and Wycombe will be desperate to get points up on the board. If we go in to this game with the right mental attitude, the Royals could come away with a comfortable win. If we don’t, who knows? However, I think we will come with the right attitude.
I’m going for a 2-0 win – but this will not be an easy game.
Score Prediction: Reading 2 – 0 Wycombe Wanderers
Other Championship Fixtures
Tuesday 20th October (All 7:45pm KO):
Bristol City vs Middlesbrough
Coventry City vs Swansea City
Huddersfield Town vs Derby County
Millwall vs Luton Town
Norwich City vs Birmingham City
Nottingham Forest vs Rotherham United
Wednesday 21st October (All 7:45pm KO):
Cardiff City vs AFC Bournemouth
Queens Park Rangers vs Preston North End
Sheffield Wednesday vs Brentford
Stoke City vs Barnsley
Watford vs Blackburn Rovers