After three wins on the bounce, Reading will be looking to make it four as they travel to the City Ground to face Nottingham Forest this afternoon.
After narrowly missing out on the playoffs, Forest will be hugely disappointed with their season and will be looking to restore some pride for the remainder of this campaign, as they look towards rebuilding for next season with a talented manager in Chris Hughton. For Reading, their season is still very much alive and will need another three points today in their quest to secure a place in the top six. Will the home side halt them in their tracks this afternoon? Let’s hope not.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this important Championship tie.
What? Championship Matchday 36
Who? Nottingham Forest
Where? City Ground
When? Saturday 13th March 2021
Opposition Manager? Chris Hughton
Nottingham Forest: WWDLL
After losing their first four league games of the season, Forest fans probably would have taken 17th at this current time, with an experienced manager now at the helm. They currently sit eight points above the relegation zone, although Rotherham United currently have three games in hand over the East Midlands side. But they are five points away from 21st placed Birmingham City. All they need to do now is to secure a few more wins and reach that magic 50 point mark to all but guarantee their survival.
Their main rivals, Derby County, are also struggling. Wayne Rooney’s side currently sit two points behind Forest with a game in hand. Surely this gives Forest an extra incentive to grab a few more wins and pull away from the Rams? They may have to go into battle today without former Royal Lewis Grabban. It looks like we will have a 50:50 chance of seeing him – but Hughton will not want to take any chances with a reliable goalscorer. Scott McKenna and Harry Arter are also closing in on a return but may not make it back in time for this weekend’s game.
Last weekend’s performance has been something I have wanted to see for a long time. Although our wins against Rotherham United and Blackburn Rovers were satisfying after suffering defeat to Wycombe, we failed to kill off either team. This changed last Saturday – and although the red card did help – we were more clinical and the scoreline reflected that. I believe we still weren’t at our very best against the Owls – but you can tell we’re getting better and better. Hopefully, we can carry that on today against a Nottingham Forest side who have some decent players lining up for them.
Alfa Semedo could start against his former side today after spending last season on loan at the City Ground, with Ovie Ejaria, Andy Rinomhota and Yakou Meite all set to make a return after recovering from their respective injuries. For the likes of Michael Morrison and John Swift, they might have to wait a little longer with two games to go after today’s tie before the international break. If Tom Holmes can continue to put in impressive performances at centre back alongside Liam Moore, Veljko Paunovic may not take any risks with Morrison. Speaking of the manager though, we have no update on his injury but I’m sure he will be raring to go again as the race for the playoffs intensifies.
The Last Meeting
Reading 2-0 Nottingham Forest
After Lyle Taylor nearly put Forest 1-0 up from a free kick (what a save from Rafael), it was another free kick that proved to be crucial. Michael Olise crossed the ball in from the left-hand side, a ball which was spillt by Brice Samba, allowing Tom Holmes to nearly bundle the ball home from this mistake. However, Ryan Yates used his hand to clear the ball off the line in the hope the referee didn’t see it. Unfortunately for Yates and Forest, Gavin Ward spotted it straight away and sent him off.
It was an impressive bit of goalkeeping in all fairness though.
Lucas Joao was the man to step up and put the home side 1-0 up in the 16th minute. And Reading secured all three points early on in the second half when two Michaels combined, with Morrison heading in Olise’s corner. Against ten men, the home side comfortably saw out the rest of the game and sealed all three points.
Three points, two goals and one clean sheet. Perfecto.
The Last League Match
Reading 3-0 Sheffield Wednesday
We seem to like getting players sent off against us, don’t we? It would be Julian Borner’s red card that would change the complexion of this game, although the Royals looked comfortable even before that. The defender brought down George Puscas in the box, allowing Michael Olise to step up and put the Royals 1-0 up.
They made it two in the 65th minute, when Lucas Joao finished off a neat little Reading move that involved some sumptuous play from Lord McIntyre. And the Berkshire side grabbed a third late on after some good play down the left side from Sone Aluko allowed Andy Yiadom to fire home from the edge of the box.
Whilst I believe we can still go up a couple of gears, this was a promising performance and I thoroughly enjoyed last weekend. Perhaps my Pizza Hut takeaway after contributed heavily towards that – but I’d take a 3-0 Reading win over a meat feast pizza any day.
- Reading have lost three less away games in the Championship than at the Mad Stad this season. Mad.
- The Royals are unbeaten in their last four meetings with this afternoon’s opponents, winning two and drawing two.
- Nottingham Forest are unbeaten in 11 of their 17 home games this season. A pretty decent record for a side far down the table?
- However, Forest have scored just 28 goals in 35 league games, conceding an impressive 34. Scoring has been the problem.
My Reading lineup: Rafael, Richards, Moore, Holmes, Yiadom, McIntyre, Laurent, Semedo, Olise, Joao, Puscas.
After a good display against Sheffield Wednesday, I have opted to stick with the same starting lineup even with possible returns this weekend.
Rafael was decent with the ball at his feet and when we played out from the back last weekend, he was not troubled at all. He keeps his place for this game and will be hoping for another quiet afternoon. Let’s hope so.
Both Omar Richards and Andy Yiadom were impressive going forward, with the latter getting himself on the scoresheet late on in the last match. We need to keep this attacking threat for today’s match and both should start again with Liam Moore and Tom Holmes at the heart of the Royals’ defence. The entire backline wasn’t troubled after Wednesday hit the bar early on – but what they had to do – they did well. I can’t see Michael Morrison being rushed back even if he is fit enough to make the matchday squad. And it will be good to see Holmes in the centre again, definitely his best position.
In midfield, Tom McIntyre looked so comfortable and right from the start, he broke up the play very well, accidentally injuring a Wednesday player in the process. How could you drop him this weekend? He stays in the starting lineup for me. Josh Laurent also keeps his place but could probably do with another rest at some point, even after missing the Bristol City game and having no midweek match to play this week. Alfa Semedo also starts against his former club – and Michael Olise will be looking to replicate last Saturday’s performance today. With Ovie Ejaria seemingly on his way back, the French teenager will have some competition in that advanced midfield role.
Up top, George Puscas partners Lucas Joao again, with the former putting in some impressive performances recently. It was also good to see Lucas Joao get back on the scoresheet, something that was much-needed for him and the club. He is such a key player. Hopefully, both will therefore be full of confidence going into this tie and I back one of them to grab a goal again today. Puscas almost did last weekend before being hacked down by Julian Börner.
Right, it’s time for the score prediction. We have been great defensively in the last few games, keeping three consecutive clean sheets. I think they may concede one today, they’re only human after all. But I also think we will get a goal too and I’ll go for a 1-1 draw today. I hope the boys can get all three points though. Let’s go and get them.
Score Prediction: Nottingham Forest 1-1 Reading
Other Championship Fixtures
All Saturday 13th March (3pm KO) unless stated:
Luton Town vs Swansea City (12:15pm KO)
Birmingham City vs Bristol City
AFC Bournemouth vs Barnsley
Cardiff City vs Watford
Derby County vs Millwall
Middlesbrough vs Stoke City
Queens Park Rangers vs Huddersfield Town
Wycombe Wanderers vs Preston North End
Sheffield Wednesday vs Norwich City (Sunday 14th March 12:15pm KO)
Rotherham United vs Coventry City has been postponed due to yet another Covid-19 outbreak in the home side’s team.