Reading’s busy schedule continues this weekend as they clash with Chris Hughton’s Nottingham Forest, with both sides desperate to take all three points from this one.
After failing to take all three points from Hillsborough in midweek, the home side will be even hungrier this weekend after arguably doing enough to win the game against the Owls. However, this weekend’s opponents are currently battling at the wrong end of the table after coming so close to reaching the playoffs last season. It was actually Reading’s capitulation against Swansea City on the final day of the campaign which prevented this, so this tie has another factor added into it. Who will come out on top? Let’s find out shall we.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of today’s lunchtime kick off.
What? Championship Matchday 16
Who? Nottingham Forest
Where? Madejski Stadium
When? Saturday 5th December
Opposition Manager? Chris Hughton
Even though we didn’t win on Wednesday, it is another game where we have come away without a loss. All the top teams turn these draws in to wins - but the way we fought back after going 1-0 down was admirable. Does the fact only four points separate 1st and 10th scare me? Yes. But am I proud of our players this season for the character they have shown regardless of recent losses? Absolutely. It’s fair to say we didn’t test Sheffield Wednesday’s keeper a lot in the second half - but the patient build up play was heartening to see - and long may it continue.
Moving on to injuries, it was gutting not to see Yakou Meite in the squad for the game in midweek but with a bit of luck, he will be available for today’s game. Andy Yiadom, John Swift, Felipe Araruna and George Puscas remain on the sidelines but hopefully we can get Swift back around Christmas time. At this stage of the season, he could potentially make a real difference with what he can offer.
Nottingham Forest: WLLLD
Forest managed to get off to a reasonably decent start under Chris Hughton, although with a recent run of four winless games, they are still in danger of slipping in to the relegation zone. To be fair, they did face the likes of AFC Bournemouth and Swansea City in that run - and to keep a clean sheet against Watford in midweek will be encouraging for them as they take on today’s challenge away from home. The Midlands side will be desperate to show what they can do in front of the cameras after such a disappointing season so far - but I guess they will be thankful to be outside the relegation zone, especially after losing their opening four games of the league campaign.
However, the return of some of their injured players is a good sign. Defender Joe Worrall started on Wednesday night, whilst Michael Dawson made it on to the bench. Former Royals Lewis Grabban and Tyler Blackett are also on their way back from injury, along with midfielder Samba Sow. However, Gaetan Bong and Luke Freeman could miss out this weekend with their respective knocks. Jack Colback definitely misses out as well, although Scott McKenna could return.
One former player who is likely to make an appearance against Forest is Alfa Semedo, who joined Reading on loan at the start of the season.
The Last Meeting
Nottingham Forest 1-1 Reading
If I remember correctly, this game was rearranged after being abandoned early on last season. Our Simeon managed to get all the way up to Nottingham before it was called off, so our thoughts are with him.
Two goals in three minutes livened this tie up late on, with Lewis Grabban slotting home from close range in the 80th minute, before Sam Baldock did well to get a strike away and beat Brice Samba in the home side’s goal. Thank the lord for goal line technology.
This game also makes me miss Jordan Obita. He was heavily involved in some of the Royals’ attacks – but good luck to him at Oxf*rd United. I was only four years old when we played them last, so it seems silly to censor their name but I have a duty to both protect young Royals from profanity and keep the rivalry going.
The Last League Match
Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Reading
After going behind early on from a Callum Patterson header, Reading soon had a man advantage when Liam Shaw was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Omar Richards. There was no real malice in the challenge – but if you give the referee an option of sending you off – you only have yourself to blame. Let’s hope the teenager can come back stronger from that after he serves his suspension.
Another controversial moment proved to be decisive for the Royals. Omar Richards was involved again – and he went down under the challenge of Kadeem Harris to win a free kick just outside the box. Was this a foul? Not for me, but again, Harris gave the referee an option by putting his hands on Richards. The resulting free kick was headed in by Lucas Joao, who kept his celebrations limited against his former side.
In the second half, Reading just didn’t test Wildsmith enough in the Sheffield Wednesday goal, although we should have had at least two penalties. The handball was a stonewall spot kick, as was the challenge on Richards. As much as I don’t like to slate the officials, this was a really poor performance from them.
The game finished 1-1 in the end – but I have to say I was delighted by the attacking intent we showed.
- Nottingham Forest have not scored in their last 375 minutes of Championship football. Will they break this duck today?
- In fact, Forest have scored just nine goals in their fifteen league games so far in 2020/21. They must do better up top.
- Reading are unbeaten in five of their last six meetings with today’s opponents. A good omen for this tie?
- However, the Royals have not been able to keep a clean sheet in any of their previous eight league games. If we can get one today, it could be very precious for the rest of the season.
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Richards, Morrison, Moore, Holmes, Rinomhota, Laurent, Olise, Ejaria, Meite, Joao
If Yakou Meite returns and is fully fit to start, I would put him straight back in to the starting lineup. Perhaps it’s not the best idea – but I felt we missed him on Wednesday night when we were searching for a winner.
The same back five starts again, with Rafael in between the sticks, with academy graduates Omar Richards and Tom Holmes either side of Liam Moore and Michael Morrison in defence. They will be searching for their first clean sheet in a long time this afternoon on home turf, although this will be no easy task. Hopefully we can get both full backs tied down to a new contact as soon as possible, especially Richards who will leave next summer unless he agrees a new deal at the Madejski Stadium.
Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent also need to play their part defensively, with Laurent playing especially well recently. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I have been so impressed with how Josh Laurent has adapted to Championship football especially with a change of manager so close to the start of the season. Rinomhota has also been fantastic in there and has no doubt helped Laurent to adapt, with both starting every league game so far this season. Will they become an unbreakable partnership?
Michael Olise starts again for me after putting in some impressive performances recently, with Ovie Ejaria on the left and (hopefully) Yakou Meite on the right. Lucas Joao takes his place up front again after scoring on Wednesday against his former side. The man has a point to prove this season – and you can see his desire to get in and amongst the goals. For Reading, they finally have a striker who can do it all. This can only serve us well throughout the season, providing he can stay fit.
Time for the score prediction. I predicted this game would end 2-1 Nottingham Forest a few weeks ago, purely because of Chris Hughton’s expertise. However, I feel a bit more optimistic after the last few performances. The response to our losing run has been exceptional, so let’s go with a 2-2 draw instead. Prove me wrong Reading. Get the win, get the three points and move on to the next one. Come on URZ!
Score Prediction: Reading 2-2 Nottingham Forest
Other Championship Fixtures
All Saturday 5th December (3pm KO) unless stated:
Brentford vs Blackburn Rovers
Bristol City vs Birmingham City
Coventry City vs Rotherham United
Huddersfield Town vs Queens Park Rangers
Millwall vs Derby County
Norwich City vs Sheffield Wednesday
Preston North End vs Wycombe Wanderers
Stoke City vs Middlesbrough
Swansea City vs Luton Town
Watford vs Cardiff City