After picking up just one point from a possible six since the restart of football, Reading will desperately be hoping to come away with three points on Tuesday evening.
However, the Royals face a huge task if they are to beat London side Brentford, who currently sit in third place in the Championship. The Bees are just five points off an automatic promotion spot – and another win at the Madejski Stadium could provide the platform for them to go on and put even more pressure on second-placed West Bromwich Albion.
Who will come out on top in this one? Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this midweek fixture.
What? Championship Matchday 40
Where? Madejski Stadium
When? Tuesday 30th June 2020 (6pm KO)
Just one point out of a possible six has ended any small chance of reaching the top six – and the Royals will need to look over their shoulder before experimenting with different players ahead of next season. Can we really afford to finish in a lower midtable position yet again for the third season running? If they carry on at the same rate, it’s looking likely. Let’s hope for a better result this Tuesday.
Matt Miazga is suspended for this match after a slap (never thought I would say that) on Tom Lawrence. Both deserved to be sent off, there is no doubt about that. However, the Royals will be hoping no further action is taken against Miazga, who was involved in that confrontation at full time.
Meanwhile, Lucas Joao is likely to continue his mini spell on the sidelines after picking up a minor injury against Stoke City. However, Pele could be involved once again after returning to full match fitness. He was an unused substitute at Pride Park. This is also the final game for which Danny Loader is eligible; he turned down a contract extension so will be a free agent from Wednesday onwards.
After winning 1-0 against fellow automatic promotion hopefuls West Bromwich Albion, the Bees could make a late charge to second spot. Two wins in their two fixtures since the restart has put them in a very good position – and another win on Tuesday will keep the pressure on the Baggies.
You can’t help but admire the London side since their promotion to the Championship. They have established themselves well as a Championship side and could be set to go up to the top tier automatically or through the playoffs.
Former Royal Tariqe Fosu is likely to start against his former club after leaving the club back in 2017 – what a story that would be if he was to get promoted this season. Is he another player who got away? It could be one up, one down, with Jack Stacey’s AFC Bournemouth currently struggling near the bottom of the Premier League.
The last meeting
Brentford 1-0 Reading
Reading had the first real chance of the game, when George Puscas broke through the offside trap one-on-one with David Raya to beat. However, the Romanian failed to convert the chance and the Bees’ backline had a reprieve.
However, after a sustained attacking move, it would be the home side who took the lead just after the hour mark when Mathias Jenson placed a brilliant cross on to the head of Ollie Watkins to convert.
Garath McCleary was inches away from equalising for the Royals, although Brentford missed a golden chance to make it 2-0 just after. At the time in November, the away side were just four points off the relegation zone, with the Bees making a charge for the playoffs. Thomas Frank’s side have been exceptional this season – and they are in well-deserved top six place heading in to this match.
- Reading have won two, drawn two and lost two of their last six games against Brentford.
- Brentford have scored three or more goals in a third of their Championship games so far this season (13/39). Their biggest win came in the 7-0 hammering of Luton Town at Griffin Park back in November.
- The Bees have also kept a clean sheet in their last three games.
- On the other hand, Reading have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last three.
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael; Richards, Morrison, Moore, Gunter; Rinomhota, Swift; Olise, Ejaria, Meite; Puscas
Although there may be the temptation to experiment and give youngster Coniah Boyce-Clarke a go in between the sticks, we might not be out of the woods just yet in terms of relegation and Rafael has done nothing wrong so far to be dropped. The Brazilian is almost certain to start again.
Matt Miazga’s red card means he misses this tie, with Michael Morrison and Tom McInytre the favourites to deputise for the United States international. One of them will start alongside captain Liam Moore, with Chris Gunter likely to fill in at right back once again after putting in a couple of decent performances since the restart.
Omar Richards and Jordan Obita will be scrapping it out for a spot at left back, although the former is likely to start again ahead of the older academy graduate. You could argue that Obita may be the better option because of his crossing ability – but Richards has seemingly established himself as a starter under Mark Bowen.
In midfield, there might not be room for Pele, with both John Swift and Andy Rinomhota likely to retain their places ahead of the visit of Brentford. After building up his confidence, Pele could make an appearance from the bench, after impressing supporters this season with some of his performances.
Meanwhile, Michael Olise has continued to be our shining light with his fantastic performances and he really does have the potential to go on and make a name for himself. The same applies to Ovie Ejaria – and I’m praying we have an obligation to buy the Liverpool loanee – as opposed to just having the option. As one of our key players, he is likely to start once again, with Yakou Meite on the right.
Up front, Mark Bowen is likely to persevere with Puscas once again, although I would like to see Sam Baldock up front. The trouble is: are either of them most effective up front on their own? I doubt it.
Despite this, I have (blind) faith we will bounce back, especially at the Madejski. I think we will concede again this Tuesday – but we may just nick an equaliser near the end. A 1-1 is what I’ll go for – although Brentford will provide us with one of the biggest tests of the season so far.
Score prediction: Reading 1-1 Brentford
Other Championship fixtures
Tuesday 30th June:
Millwall vs Swansea City (5pm KO)
Barnsley vs Blackburn Rovers (6pm KO)
Cardiff City vs Charlton Athletic (6pm KO)
Queens Park Rangers vs Fulham (6:30pm KO)
Leeds United vs Luton Town (7:45pm KO)
Wigan Athletic vs Stoke City (7:45pm KO)
Wednesday 1st July:
Preston North End vs Derby County (5pm KO)
Birmingham City vs Huddersfield Town (6pm KO)
Nottingham Forest vs Bristol City (6pm KO)
Sheffield United vs West Bromwich Albion (7:45pm KO)
Thursday 2nd July:
Hull City vs Middlesbrough (5pm KO)