As if the prospect of playing Stoke City away on the opening day of the Championship campaign wasn’t exhilarating enough, Reading have an all-Championship tie to look forward to in the League Cup. The Royals’ round-one opponents are Swansea City. Please contain your excitement.
This tie is currently due to take place between Reading’s first two league games (Stoke away, Preston North End at home). However, Berkshire Live’s Jonathan Low pointed out that the game could come earlier, similar to the Colchester United match being played before last season’s league curtain raiser at Derby County.
Imagine the clubs may well re-schedule this for the days leading up to the season and treat it as a final pre-season fixture. Judging by fans' reaction from both clubs, there's not a lot of excitement around the game...— Jonathan Low (@jonathanl50) June 24, 2021
Reading getting boring cup draws is nothing new. One of the biggest appeals of such competitions is the prospect of going to a new ground or playing a new team, and there’s been precious little of that for us in recent years. Think back to last season when the Royals took on Luton Town in the Championship, League Cup and FA Cup, or the one prior when Reading faced Cardiff City approximately 43 times in January 2020 alone.
In fact, including this one, four of Reading’s last 10 cup draws have given us Championship opposition. That’s Cardiff City once (with a replay), in addition to Luton Town twice last season. Of the remaining six draws, we’ll have played three of those teams in the Championship by this December. After Wycombe Wanderers featured in the second tier last season, Sheffield United and Blackpool are up in this year’s edition.
Going up against the Swans is a similarly uninspiring prospect - no disrespect intended to them. I’m sure their fans are as thrilled about this fixture as we are. Besides facing the Jacks in the Championship in each of the last three seasons, Reading also went up against them in the League Cup in 2017. Then a Premier League side under the management of Paul Clement, Swansea won 2-0.
You have to go back to September 2008 to find a Reading win against Swansea City. In that match, goals from Noel Hunt, Stephen Hunt and Kevin Doyle fired the Royals to a 4-0 victory.
Reading’s poor record against Swansea wasn’t always the case though. That 4-0 win capped off a run of 11 wins in the previous 15 meetings. In fact, the head-to-head record seems to swing between favouring one team or another over an extended period, so perhaps the Royals are due some better luck going forwards.
That head-to-head record (tied at 33 wins each in addition to 17 draws) started all the way back in the 1920/21 season when both sides took part in the Football League for the first time in their history. Reading and Swansea (then Swansea Town) had competed in the Southern Football League in 1919/20.
The most recent entry in this fixture came at the end of last season. Reading needed a win to keep their play-off hopes alive, but could only manage a 2-2 draw, although Tomas Esteves scored his first professional goal late on.