A night in front of the cameras awaits Reading as they take on Coventry City at St Andrew’s, with another three points on offer for the team that steps up to the plate.
After an impressive 4-2 win at Ewood Park just three days ago, the pressure will be on Reading to take all three points again against Mark Robins’ Sky Blues.
This is a potential banana skin for the Royals - and they will need to be on it right from the off if they are to seal another away win. It’s fair to say another three points would help to keep building the momentum we have - but can we put in another exception performance?
Here is everything you need to know ahead of this evening’s clash.
What? Championship Matchday 9
Who? Coventry City
Where? St Andrew’s
When? Friday 30th October
Opposition Manager? Mark Robins
Coventry City: LLDLL
To be fair to Coventry, they have faced many difficult sides so far in this campaign. In the previous five games, they have faced AFC Bournemouth, Brentford, Swansea City, Blackburn Rovers and Middlesbrough. That’s not easy at all – and they will be desperate to get some points on the board to drag themselves away from relegation danger. Staying up will be a huge task for Mark Robins’ side – can they step up and stay afloat? We will have to wait and see.
After suffering with many off field problems over the past few years, it’s good to see Coventry doing well. This season, I was praying they would be able to get back to the Ricoh Arena, their real home. However, this was not meant to be and they will continue to play games at St Andrew’s for the foreseeable future. There’s something about the Ricoh I really like – and I bet the place would be buzzing if 1. They were allowed back and 2. The place was packed with fans, although this would be unlikely at any time soon with the current climate. Despite this, it looks like they will just build a new stadium instead, which is a massive shame in one way. In another way, they may finally have a permanent place to settle down and play their home games. Good luck to them.
Well, this is just unbelievable. Perhaps I should have more faith in my team - but this is Reading we’re talking about here. Eight games, seven wins, one draw and 22 points out of a possible 24. If you had told me we’d be doing this well before the Championship opener against Derby, I’d be asking you to stop taking whatever substance you were on. Scoring four goals against Blackburn away from home is no mean feat and I hope we can score at least once or twice again this Friday, although this will (admittedly) not be an easy task.
Ovie Ejaria is expected to return tonight after missing the game in Lancashire with muscle fatigue – and there’s more good news too. Yakou Meite is likely to play again despite going down with an ankle injury in the first half on Tuesday – although Swift, Yiadom and Araruna remain out. Will Ovie Ejaria walk straight back in to the starting 11? I’ll make my prediction later on in this piece – but it will be interesting to hear what you all think.
The Last Meeting
Reading 2 – 0 Coventry City
Can you believe the last meeting between the two sides was way back in February 2012? This was one of many games which helped the Royals to climb up to the summit of the Championship. Jimmy Kebe made it 1-0 in the 25th minute when he ran on to Jason Roberts’ flick to guide the ball past Joe Murphy in the Coventry goal. Trust me, that goal is very satisfying to watch.
Just a couple of minutes before half time, Roberts would get himself on the scoresheet when Matthew Connolly’s header from Ian Harte’s cross deflected off the Grenadian forward. The game would finish 2-0, with one familiar face appearing for the opposition in that game. Oliver Norwood started in central midfield – and I wonder if he thought he’d be in the Premier League later on in his career. Full credit to him for what he’s done with Sheffield United.
To round this all up, here’s the Reading lineup from that day: Federici, J Mills, Pearce, Gorkss, Connolly, Leigertwood, Karacan, Harte, Kebe, Hunt, Roberts.
The Last League Match
Blackburn Rovers 2 – 4 Reading
This is another game I just want you to enjoy, instead of me rambling on!
Here’s the lineup from Tuesday night: Rafael; Richards, Moore, Morrison, Esteves; Rinomhota, Laurent; Olise, Semedo, Meite; Joao.
- Reading are unbeaten in their last ten meetings with tonight’s opponents – with our last loss coming in February 2005. Les Ferdinand scored the Berkshire side’s goal that day.
- The Royals have scored seven goals in their past two games. Are we now starting to perfect our attacking game after defending so well in the vast majority of Championship matches so far this season?
- Coventry City have conceded in all but one of their eight league games, with their only clean sheet coming at Oakwell against Barnsley in a 0-0 draw.
- The Sky Blues have also failed to score in their last two matches - but can they get a goal or two tonight?
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Richards, Moore, Morrison, Esteves, Rinomhota, Laurent, Olise, Semedo, Meite, Joao
Can we really change the starting lineup this evening after our performance on Tuesday? In all fairness, we only played three days ago so that could have a part to play in this decision – but the fact we scored four and have not returned to Reading to make the trip back up is making me lean towards keeping the same lineup.
Despite conceding twice at Ewood Park, I would keep the same back five. Omar Richards and Tomas Esteves can contribute both defensively and offensively, with Liam Moore and Michael Morrison keeping clean sheets in six out of the opening eight Championship matches in 2020/21. Coming up against Adam Armstrong, Ben Brereton and Harvey Elliott is not an easy task – and I back Blackburn Rovers to be one of the back attacking sides in the league this season.
So, am I worried we conceded twice in midweek? Not at all – but it would be nice to pick up a clean sheet tonight to steady the ship and perhaps increase our chances of winning, if my footballing wisdom (lol) is anything to go by.
Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent have been regular starters under Veljko Paunovic so far despite the busy schedule and they are almost certain to appear again at St Andrew’s. The latter scored his first Reading goal against Blackburn – and I hope that gives him the confidence to reach new heights after slotting in seamlessly in to the Championship.
He deserves a special mention actually, because the former Shrewsbury midfielder has adapted very well and managed to perform above expectations regardless of the managerial change at the start of the campaign. His partner Rinomhota needs no introduction – he’s been fantastic since making his transition to senior professional football in 2018/19.
The three in front of them may also remain unchanged. Even though Alfa Semedo performed poorly against Rotherham United last weekend, the Benfica loanee assisted two goals on Tuesday night and bounced back well to give Paunovic something to think about. Michael Olise was also exceptional in the last game and Yakou Meite continues to get himself on the scoresheet. Over the past couple of seasons, the Ivory Coast international has proved he can be a major asset despite his flaws.
It will be interesting to see what happens when both Ovie Ejaria and John Swift return – but keeping focused on the short-term and the next game will be the priority. It seems as though the manager has helped to instil this mentality inside the players.
Up front, I have gone with Lucas Joao again. Although I’m aware of the shoulder injury he picked up against Cardiff City, you can tell he makes such a difference to this team. Even though George Puscas hasn’t performed badly, I do worry about the rest of the season if Joao picks up a longer-term injury. Let us just hope he stays injury free for the foreseeable future.
Right, time for the score prediction. In Tuesday’s preview, I predicted a 0-0 draw and look how that turned out – only the six goals were scored in that game…
With the brilliant form we’re in, I have to go for another win tonight. Look out for Lucas Joao and Yakou Meite, they could prove to be the difference.
Score Prediction: Coventry City 0-2 Reading
Other Championship Fixtures
All Saturday 31st October (3pm KO) unless stated:
Bristol City vs Norwich City (12:30pm KO)
Barnsley vs Watford
AFC Bournemouth vs Derby County
Luton Town vs Brentford
Middlesbrough vs Nottingham Forest
Millwall vs Huddersfield Town
Preston North End vs Birmingham City
Queens Park Rangers vs Cardiff City
Stoke City vs Rotherham United
Swansea City vs Blackburn Rovers
Wycombe Wanderers vs Sheffield Wednesday