The Wokingham Paper : 2020-07-09

SPORT : 38 : 38


38 SPORT | To advertise email advertisin­g@wokinghamp­ THESPORTSP­APER Thursday, July 9, 2020 Our Woodley showroom is open 7 days a week 0800 30 50 30 www.trademarkw­ Royals held to drab Watching the best and worst of Reading I F you ever needed proof as to why Reading will finish slap bang in mid-table this season, the last two games have provided exactly that. The 5-0 victory over Luton Town on Saturday was a joy to watch as the Royals punctured the Hatters’ defence time and time again, resulting in four goals for Yakou Meite and the club’s biggest winning margin in six and a half years. Yet a little over 72 hours later on Tuesday night, and the team were devoid of attacking intent as they laboured to a 0-0 bore draw against Huddersfie­ld. As much as Saturday bred excitement and optimism, Tuesday left fans frustrated and disappoint­ed. The reality is that Reading as a club are probably not as good as they showed against Luton, but equally not as bad as they were against Huddersfie­ld, or against Brentford for that matter. Their level is somewhere in between – strong enough to be well clear of any serious relegation trouble, but lacking the consistent quality needed to mount a genuine promotion push. The question now is how we see performanc­es like that against Luton on a more regular basis. The defence provides a firm starting point, with two consecutiv­e clean sheets achieved for the first time in 2020. It has been fantastic to see two academy graduates – Gabriel Osho and Tom McIntyre – come back into the side and really shine. The pair had not featured since January, but have shown no signs of rust as they have proven solid and comfortabl­e in the backline. Mark Bowen has said that both players look to be huge talents for the future, but they may even be ready to be regulars in the present. The decision to leave out Liam Moore has been heavily highlighte­d, and it could be the beginning of the end of the captain’s time at Reading. Further forward, Ovie Ejaria’s absence against Huddersfie­ld may go some way to explaining the team’s lack of creativity. Or at least the absence of a legitimate alternativ­e. Jordan Obita’s delivery is one of the best in the team, but he looked a little lacklustre and doesn’t seem to be the right fit for a role on the wing. Michael Olise would surely have been a better option or even a natural winger such as Garath McCleary or Lucas Boye. All three of those players came on as substitute­s on Tuesday, but in the case of McCleary and Boye in the 86th minute, it was far too late. Bowen needs to become more proactive when it comes to making changes. After all, he has no clear style of play to stick to and Reading have little to play for, so what’s the harm in trying something different or giving fringe players a chance? There is no doubt that this Reading team have the foundation­s to be successful, otherwise they would not be winning a game 5-0. But issues with consistenc­y, creativity and confidence need to be resolved otherwise progress will never be made. Reading 0 Huddersfie­ld Town 0 By ANDY PRESTON at the Madejski Stadium apreston@wokinghamp­ READING were unable to make it two wins on the bounce after they were held to a goalless draw by relegation battling Huddersfie­ld Town at the Madejski Stadium. The Royals were unable to build on their spectacula­r 5-0 awaywin at Luton Town, but kept a second consecutiv­e clean sheet for the first time since the league restarted. Mark Bowen made just one change from Saturday’s big win, with Jordan Obita in for the injured Ovie Ejaria. The Royals were up against a Huddersfie­ld side scrapping for their lives coming into the game just two points above the relegation zone and in desperate need of points. The Terriers finished bottom of the Premier League last season and are looking to avoid a double relegation. Reading had most of the possession inside the Huddersfie­ld half in the opening moments of the game but failed to create a clear cut chance. The visitors found theirway into the game and worked a couple of neat moves with the attacking threat of ChrisWillo­ck, Emile Smith-Rowe and their top scorer Karlan Grant, but were unable to test Rafael Cabral in the Royals goal. Saturday’s four goal hero Yakou Meite picked up the first card of the game after fouling Harry Toffolo wide on the left wing. Both sides looked jaded as the Royals failed to produce the same swagger that they showed on Saturday against Luton. Michael Morrison stayed alert to get in front of a powerful effort fromWilloc­k. Smith Rowe then made an intelligen­t run on the right wing and was well found as he cut onto his left foot in the box, but he could only produce a tame effort which was easily saved by Rafael. The Terriers looked the more likely to find an opener as Willock burst through the middle of the pitch and laid the ball off for Grant who turned onto his left foot but spooned his effort high and wide. Reading’s best chance of the half came in the 36th minute when Pele picked up the loose ball in midfield and transition­ed the ball to John Swift who slipped a through ball to George Puscas who tried to clip the ball over Lossl but the keeperwas on guard to his attempt and caught with ease. Pele impressed again as he spotted the run of Meite and lifted the ball over the top of the Huddersfie­ld defence but Meite failed to make contact to guide the ball towards goal as he tried to watch the ball onto his left foot. The sides went into half-time level after a fairly low key opening 45 minutes with neither side showing the cutting edge to find the back of the net. Meite tried his luck from distance early in the second half but failed to get a proper connection on his effort as it rolled out for a goal kick. Swift spun away from his marker on the half-way line with a clever piece of skill and laid the ball out wide to Obita who whipped in a cross to win Reading a corner, but Huddersfie­ld defended resolutely to keep the game goalless. Grant looked destined to pull the trigger in the box for Huddersfie­ld as he looked to work some space but Osho stuck to him like glue with a brilliant piece of defending before making the block to get the ball out of danger. Bowen made his first change of the match in the 65th minute as Michael Olise replaced Puscas as Meite moved into a central forward role. Pele picked up a yellow card after he put in a cynical challenge on Smith-Rowe to prevent the Arsenal loanee from bursting forward into the Royals half. The second half followed the PRINTED AND DISTRIBUTE­D BY PRESSREADE­R PressReade­ +1 604 278 4604 ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY . ORIGINAL COPY COPYRIGHT AND PROTECTED BY APPLICABLE LAW

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