Reading return to the Madejski Stadium this Tuesday, as they take on Luton Town in round two of the Carabao Cup.
Nathan Jones’ side made a great start to the season at the weekend, securing a 1-0 away win against Barnsley at Oakwell and continuing the good form from last season that enabled them to stay in the second tier.
The winner of this fixture in Berkshire will host Manchester United in the next round of the competition, helping to increase the importance of this tie. Will we put out a strong lineup in the hope of getting to the next round? Or will we take no risks with injury and field a side full of fringe players? It will be interesting to see what Veljko Paunovic goes with in his first home game on the touchline, as we try and continue to build momentum.
Here are the facts and stats ahead of this clash.
What? Carabao Cup Round Two
Who? Luton Town
Where? Madejski Stadium
When? Tuesday 15th September (6pm KO)
Our last Carabao Cup clash
Reading 3 – 1 Colchester United
With Mark Bowen leaving the club and Veljko Paunovic in quarantine, Eddie Niedzwiecki (with the assistance of John O’Shea) took charge of this fixture – but fell behind in the 37th minute when Cohen Bramall’s cross was smartly converted by Jevani Brown to put the away side 1-0 up.
Despite this, their lead disappeared ten minutes later when Sone Aluko teed up Felipe Araruna to put a wonderful cross in to the box for Lucas Joao, allowing the 27-year-old to head home in stoppage time at the end of the first half.
The home side took the lead ten minutes after the restart when Michael Olise’s through ball found its way to Joao to fire home – and he would add another one for his hat-trick in the 75th minute after some great trickery.
Colchester’s Harry Pell was on hand to add some slightly colourful language in the build up to the goal and continued to mouth off to the referee after the goal had gone in. He finished off this rant with a little scream as he walked away – bizarre if you ask me.
The Last Meeting
Luton Town 0 – 5 Reading
This game was a wonderful treat for Reading fans in July after some poor performances in the previous few games.
Yakou Meite scored two goals in two minutes to put the Royals in complete control of the game before the 20 minute mark. Both were good finishes – although Nathan Jones was probably furious at this point with how poor his side looked defensively. It would get even worse for the Bedfordshire side before half time, with Ovie Ejaria’s wonderful ball through allowing Meite to grab his third of the game.
Puscas made it 4-0 in the 57th minute when a long ball in to the box was headed on by Michael Morrison to the Romanian, who just about managed to get to it.
The forward would also get the assist for Meite to get his fourth and Reading’s fifth. The only downside is the fact they didn’t add more! What a performance – probably one of the highlights of last season.
- Veljko Paunovic has kept a clean sheet in both games he has fully taken charge of (Portimonese and Derby County).
- Reading have won their last three fixtures against Luton Town.
- Luton Town are unbeaten in their last seven competitive games. Can they make it eight this Tuesday?
- The Hatters have scored in every one of these seven games, scoring 12 goals in total during this time.
Likely Reading lineup: Southwood, Bristow, McIntyre, Holmes, Araruna, Tetek, Rinomhota, Sackey, Aluko, Baldock, Puscas
Manchester United await the side who gets through in this tie, so I would not be surprised to see us put out a stronger lineup. This, combined with an international break in a couple of weeks, makes the case for playing a strong side even more compelling. However, I would like to see several fringe players given the chance to shine in midweek after such a strong showing by the first-team on Saturday.
Luke Southwood is likely to start again after a decent enough performance against Colchester – but will need to keep performing well with Sam Walker still on his tail. The academy graduate knows he could be dropped at any moment. However, I hope he stays with the first team for the foreseeable future.
The backline is likely to have a youthful look to it, with Holmes and McIntyre both eager to make their mark at a senior level. The former was brought on in the East Midlands at the weekend – and both are likely to be firmly in Paunovic’s plans. You never know what could happen with injuries and transfers – so it will be interesting to see if they start together against the Hatters. Paunovic may not want to overwork Omar Richards either and this could give Ethan Bristow his second competitive appearance of the season, with Felipe Araruna starting at right back again after being involved in two of the three goals in the previous round.
One surprise inclusion I have gone for is Dejan Tetek, a 17-year-old defensive midfielder who has appeared for England at youth level before. Even with the U23 season starting, they have the likes of Ryan East, Conor Lawless and Claudio Osorio who can make up their midfield, perhaps giving Tetek the opportunity to make his debut after appearing on the times in pre-season and round one of the cup. One man who could help him to settle in is Andy Rinomhota, who knows more than most about making the step from the academy to the senior side.
After a wretched few seasons, winger Sone Aluko will be hoping to prove a point to the new manager, especially with Paunovic speaking to Slavisa Jokanovic not so long ago. Like Holmes, he came off the bench on Saturday – but he desperately needs to play well this season with his contract expiring at the end of the campaign.
Another surprise inclusion is Lynford Sackey, who has been training with the first team. This would have been the perfect game for Yakou Meite to get back in to his stride – his suspension will rule him out of this one though. The French winger may not start against Barnsley this weekend either, with all 11 starters performing well in the opening league game.
Up front, Sam Baldock and George Puscas could be the difference on Tuesday evening against a Luton defence that has conceded eight goals in last seasons’ meetings. I personally think the two will make a major impact and at least one will probably get on the scoresheet.
I’m going to go for a 2-0 home win, with McIntyre and Holmes keeping a clean sheet at the back.
Score Prediction: Reading 2 – 0 Luton Town
Other Carabao Cup Fixtures (Championship Teams)
Tuesday 15th September:
Middlesbrough vs Barnsley
Derby County vs Preston North End
Newcastle United vs Blackburn Rovers
Rochdale vs Sheffield Wednesday
Gillingham vs Coventry City
Millwall vs Cheltenham Town
Oxford United vs Watford
AFC Bournemouth vs Crystal Palace
Wednesday 16th September:
Bristol City vs Northampton Town
Southampton vs Brentford
Thursday 17th September:
Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Stoke City