Competitive football is back! This Saturday, the Royals face the visit of League Two side Colchester United, a side we last faced in 2015.
That night, we came out 1-0 winners – but with recent events in Berkshire – this could be a very tricky game for Veljko Paunovic’s side. Will the home side field their strongest starting lineup in preparation for Derby County? Or will it be treated as a normal Carabao Cup game? This remains to be seen – but it will be fascinating to see what happens!
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s Carabao Cup fixture.
What? Carabao Cup Round One
Who? Colchester United
Where? Madejski Stadium
When? Saturday 5th September (3pm KO)
Our last Carabao Cup clash
Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 – 1 Reading (4-2 pens)
This was a game where we were very unlucky. Poor Joao Virginia had a nightmare for Wolves’ goal in the 27th minute, when he let Bruno Jordao’s shot deceive him – giving the away side a mountain to climb if they wanted to win this tie.
It was looking like that would be the decisive moment, until John Swift’s unbelievable rabona cross found its way to Lucas Boye, who headed the ball in to the back of the net. However, the duo who were critical in that goal, both missed penalties in the shooutout. Ruben Vinagre scored the winning spot kick to put the Premier League team through to the next round.
This was a disappointing result for Jose Gomes after grabbing the equaliser and he would remain winless in his following three games, resulting in his sacking.
The Last Meeting
Colchester United 0 – 1 Reading
Ah, how I miss you African Violet. I miss the days of looking like one big parma violet – it’s definitely a kit I need to get back out the wardrobe. This is the kit we donned when we faced today’s opponents five years ago in Essex.
Reading started brightly when Sam Walker (yep, our Sam) made good saves from Nick Blackman and Danny Williams – and we also hit the crossbar in the second half. However, the Royals couldn’t find a way through in 90 minutes and the game went in to extra time.
It took until the 115th minute for the away side to find the winning goal, when Oliver Norwood’s ball through to Chris Gunter was coolly converted. This secured our path to the second round, where we beat Portsmouth 2-1 at Fratton Park, before going out in the third round to Everton.
None of the matchday 18 from that night are actually still at the club. Anton Ferdinand, Andrew Taylor, Oliver Norwood, Stephen Quinn, Hal Robson-Kanu and Orlando Sa all started that night. I would say it’s a real throwback but I can’t count 2015 as a throwback, I refuse to!
This fixture was part of the very good spell we had under Steve Clarke in the early stages of the 2015/16 season – a run that unfortunately did not last. Clarke’s Fulham debacle, round two of Brian McDermott, the sale of Nick Blackman and a disappointing league finish followed.
- Reading have won their last five Carabao Cup first round fixtures. The last defeat at this stage was *ahem* the 6-0 loss against Peterborough United.
- The Royals have also won their last three senior games against Colchester. This dates back to 2001 but a win is a win!
- Colchester United lost just four of their fourteen regular league games in 2020, before they were knocked out in the playoff semi-finals by Exeter City.
- The U’s also conceded just 37 goals in 37 league games. Not too bad in all honesty – and they will need to be solid against the Royals this weekend.
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Richards, Moore, Morrison, Yiadom, Rinomhota, Laurent, Ejaria, Swift, Olise, Joao
Right, I’ve taken a blind stab at what could possibly happen here. By all accounts, it looks like Paunovic admires the 4-2-3-1 formation – let’s hope we can bring in a few wingers if that’s the case! Regardless of who is taking charge on Saturday, I think there would be little/no point of carrying on with Mark Bowen implemented over the summer. I didn’t mind the 3-5-1-1 though, it has to be said.
In terms of personnel, I think we will field a strong side, contrary to what most sides do in the early stages of this competition. Rafael is likely to start in goal again ahead of Luke Southwood – and I really hope the latter retains his place as understudy under the new manager. He has been patient even after several spells out on loan, could it be now or never for him?
At left back, we’re not exactly spoilt for choice – it’s between Richards and Samuels currently. However, this is a great chance for Samuels and as a England youth international, he has the potential to go and be a great success at the club. However, Omar Richards is likely to get the nod on Saturday, alongside Liam Moore, Michael Morrison and Andy Yiadom. Tom McIntyre is currently on international duty with Scotland U21s – but he will be in contention for a start as soon as he returns.
In midfield, we could end up with Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent as the defensive midfielders, with Ovie Ejaria, John Swift and Michael Olise as the attacking midfielders. Problem with this? A considerable lack of width. You also have to question whether they can be effective playing together all at the same time. However, those three could provide an awful lot of creativity – and it gives John Swift the license to play in a more advanced role.
George Puscas is also away on international duty – giving Lucas Joao a clear path to grab a starting spot. Although you have to feel the Portuguese forward is ahead of Puscas in the pecking order currently (especially if we’re playing just one up front), you never know what could happen with a new manager!
Score Prediction: Reading 2 – 1 Colchester United
Other Carabao Cup Fixtures (Championship Teams)
All Saturday 5th September (3pm KO) unless stated:
Middlesbrough vs Shrewsbury Town (Friday 4th September 5:30pm KO)
Derby County vs Barrow (12pm KO)
Walsall vs Sheffield Wednesday
Barnsley vs Nottingham Forest
Rochdale vs Huddersfield Town
Salford City vs Rotherham United
Plymouth Argyle vs Queens Park Rangers
Crawley Town vs Millwall
Bristol City vs Exeter City
Birmingham City vs Cambridge United
Luton Town vs Norwich City
Milton Keynes Dons vs Coventry City
Newport County vs Swansea City
Northampton Town vs Cardiff City
Brentford vs Wycombe Wanderers (Sunday 6th September 12pm KO)