After the postponement of the Brentford game at the weekend, home side Reading have had a long rest going into this one against a team they lost to in October.
This was the Royals’ first league loss of the season after going unbeaten in their first eight games – a run that had to come to an end at some point. This defeat will give this Tuesday night fixture a real edge, as the Berkshire side continues to fight for a place in the promotion mix come the end of the season. This will not be an easy task though, with many sides competing for a top six spot – and Coventry will be coming to the Madejski Stadium looking to take all three points. Let’s hope the Royals can pick up another win tonight.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this evening’s fixture.
What? Championship Matchday 24
Who? Coventry City
Where? Madejski Stadium
When? Tuesday 19th January 2021
Opposition Manager? Mark Robins
Even though we did lose to Luton Town in the FA Cup, I can’t help but feel proud of the young players who gave it a real go on the day. Oli Pendlebury was superb in the middle of the park, Jeriel Dorsett was solid at the back and Nahum Melvin-Lambert nearly equalised at the end for the Royals. This game also gave a lot of first team players the rest that has been much-needed after a very busy fixture list in the latter stage of 2020 – and no one picked up an injury either at Kenilworth Road. So, apart from the result, it was a pretty successful day and one that Reading fans can be proud of.
According to reports, George Puscas is set to be out for a month after picking up a groin injury and has recently had surgery, so hopefully he will be back sooner rather than later. You never know how long Lucas Joao is going to stay fit - and after seeing Sam Baldock play up front on his own multiple times this season – it’s clear we need other options in the striking department. The Pedro Mendes to Reading rumour has dragged on for a while now but he could potentially provide us with a short term solution if he does indeed join on loan this month. Thankfully, Joao is set to start tonight - let’s hope he comes out of this game unscathed.
Coventry City: DLDLW
Like Reading, Coventry City had their game postponed at the weekend due to a Coronavirus outbreak, which could mean two things in this meeting:
- Both sets of players will be well rested and could hit the ground running from the off after a period of time away from the league or;
- There could be a major lack of sharpness on both sides, leading to a game which could be torturous to watch.
Mark Robins will be hoping his side can complete the double over Reading this season after such an impressive display in October against the Royals who were in scintillating form at the time. The Sky Blues could have easily capitulated after Lucas Joao’s equaliser in the second half – but they picked themselves back up and secured a deserve win in the end. Recently, they have majorly struggled to get on the scoresheet and they will be hoping to reignite their attacking threat this evening as the underdogs once again.
Talking about the club in general though, their main aim will be to stay up this season after their promotion from League One in the 2019/20 campaign. As it stands, they are in 17th place and seven points clear of the relegation zone – and a win tonight would be a massive result for them. A win tonight for Reading is also important as they try and stay in the promotion mix going into the business end of the season. Keep an eye out for their new signing, Viktor Gyokeres, who could come to the rescue for Coventry and solve their attacking woes after joining on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion.
To finish off, here’s an injury update for today’s away side.
The Last League Match
Coventry City 3-2 Reading
This game was a bit of turning point for the Royals after being unbeaten in their previous eight league games – with consecutive defeats after this match against Preston North End, Stoke City and then AFC Bournemouth after the international break.
Gustavo Hamer’s low shot past Rafael put the home side 1-0 up at half time - leaving Veljko Paunovic in a situation he hadn’t been in before in the league with Reading. After the break, the away side responded well and even equalised in the 66th minute through Lucas Joao, who has been an invaluable asset for Reading so far this season.
The Royals got lucky and were initially saved by the crossbar and then Rafael, before Matt Godden fired home a rebound from the saved shot ten minutes after the equaliser - and Sam McCallum sealed the game when his swerving shot deceived Rafael in the Reading goal. This was his first major mistake of this season – and quite a few have followed since.
George Puscas did pull one back in stoppage time to make it 3-2 – but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Berkshire side’s first loss of the season.
The Last League Match
Huddersfield Town 1-2 Reading
The Royals got off to the worst possible start in 2021 when an inviting cross from the right was met by Fraizer Campbell, to put Huddersfield 1-0 up in the sixth minute. A few players could have done better there, especially Tom Holmes who was somehow beaten to the ball by Campbell, but luckily, this did not matter in the end.
In the second half, the away side were much better and equalised shortly after the break when Tom McIntyre’s long ball found Lucas Joao, who calmly placed the ball beyond Ryan Schofield. After a good first half performance, Rarmani Edmonds-Green should have dealt with McIntyre’s ball, although it was an absolute corker of a pass from the Scottish youth international. The second goal just over ten minutes later was all about Joao though – and his shot from outside the box gave Schofield absolutely no chance. He later went off injured but is expected to be back for today’s game.
What a response from the Royals. They did well to hang on to this lead (even hitting the woodwork late on through Tomas Esteves) and will need to put in a strong defensive performance if they are to win again this evening.
- The Royals have won all (one) of their league games so far in 2021 - long may it continue.
- Reading have kept a clean sheet in four of their last six meetings with tonight’s opponents. To be fair, we did concede three last time out.
- Coventry City have failed to score in five of their last six competitive games (inc. league and FA Cup). Will the home side be able to keep a clean sheet tonight?
- The Sky Blues have also won just nine points from a possible 36 away from home so far this season – but they will be confident after the reverse fixture earlier on in the campaign.
Likely Reading lineup: Rafael, Richards, McIntyre, Morrison, Holmes, Rinomhota, Laurent, Ejaria, Swift, Olise, Joao
After having a total of 17 days to rest up and recharge their batteries, our first team should be raring to go for this match as we officially enter the second half of the season tonight.
Rafael starts in goal again despite an assured display by Luke Southwood against Luton Town, although the academy graduate’s performance should be a source of concern for the Brazilian who may lose his place if he makes another mistake in the next couple of matches. Let’s hope he can perform up to standard over the coming months, because if he does, it can only help to keep us in the top half of the Championship table.
In defence, Omar Richards comes in for Ethan Bristow, Tom McIntyre retains his place with Michael Morrison and Tom Holmes also coming back in. Although this is quite harsh on Tomas Esteves, who put in a very good performance in the FA Cup, ensuring we remain solid at the back will be our highest priority. This is particularly important when you consider we conceded three at St Andrew’s in the last meeting.
Andy Rinomhota and Josh Laurent will also start again after being given a well-deserved rest – and may be set to remain in the starting lineup for the remainder of the season after being knocked out of the FA Cup. Hopefully both of them can retain their form and fitness, although this will be a difficult task with 23 games still to go including this one.
In front of the duo, Ovie Ejaria, John Swift and Michael Olise, three of our most talented players, could form the trio behind the striker as we look to create chances and terrorise Coventry’s defence. Width might become an issue with the trio and Tom Holmes filling in at right back – but we could have Sone Aluko and Jayden Onen as wide options on the bench if we need someone to hug the touchline. There is also the case for Tomas Esteves starting again to provide some attacking threat down the right – but I will stick with Holmes personally.
Up front, Lucas Joao has to start again. No ifs, no buts. This man could be the difference between a top six finish and finishing outside the playoffs – that’s how important he is. Many people will argue Michael Olise will be that difference but without Joao, I don’t think playoffs is a possibility. The Portuguese man is the most complete striker we have had for years – what a man, what a player.
Time to make a score prediction. The home side will be desperately hoping for revenge after the 3-2 loss in October and I think we will get it, with Joao and Swift getting on the scoresheet. Keep an eye out for our set pieces too with both Swift and Olise as options and Aluko on the bench. Come on URZ!
Score Prediction: Reading 2-0 Coventry City
Other Championship Fixtures
Tuesday 19th January:
Derby County vs AFC Bournemouth (6pm KO)
Blackburn Rovers vs Swansea City
Sheffield Wednesday vs Wycombe Wanderers (Both 7pm KO)
Rotherham United vs Stoke City
Watford vs Barnsley (Both 7:45pm KO)
Wednesday 20th January:
Norwich City vs Bristol City (6pm KO)
Brentford vs Luton Town
Cardiff City vs Queens Park Rangers
Huddersfield Town vs Millwall
Nottingham Forest vs Middlesbrough (All 7pm KO)
Birmingham City vs Preston North End (7:45pm KO)
As I raise my bat after writing my 100th match preview for The Tilehurst End, I want to say thank you to everyone who continues to support the website through Patreon, interaction and just reading our content. The site, like the club itself, would be nothing without Reading supporters – and here’s a few of my favourite previews to finish off:
Sevilla vs Reading: Match Preview - very exotic.
Manchester United vs Reading: Match Preview - it’s rare I manage to get the chance to write about a Premier League side!
Reading vs Swansea City: Match Preview - this was a special match preview for the last game of the season – very enjoyable to write.