This was a chance filled match with Reading pushing throughout to score against a strong and resolute Wednesday side who were determined not to finish the match without a share of the points. This one ended 1-1 and was filled with clear penalties that weren’t given and poor refereeing decisions. Although Reading will bring up the poor decisions made by the Referee, they should have easily won this one by taking the chances that were presented to them.
Following on from the bore draw against a solid Stoke side on Saturday, Tony Pulis decided to reward the team from that game with another runout tonight. Within the unchanged starting 11, the young academy graduate Liam Shaw returned to midfield despite being taken off for tactical reasons at half time last time out. One positive for The Owls was the return of the ever-important Dom Iorfa, who makes the bench after recovering from a leg injury.
On the Reading side, there was only been one change from the excellent 3-1 victory against Bristol City at the weekend that ended a run of six games without a win. The ever-important Méïté was ruled out through injury and was replaced by Alfa Semedo.
For Owls fans, the sight of Lucas João up top was certainly worrying. When they sold the striker in August 2019 for around £5m, most Owls fans certainly would not have minded. However, as happened with Michael Antonio when he left Wednesday, Lucas has found his scoring boots away from Hillsborough. Having scored nine goals in thirteen league games so far, Owls fans would have been hoping they would be able to keep him at bay tonight.
On the Tony Pulis Hat Watch, he continued to wear the black Sheffield Wednesday baseball cap tonight in the hope of recording points like they did last time out.
From the off, Reading dominated the ball and there was an early chance for João. Liam Shaw gave away the ball in midfield and it was played into João who made a run down the side of Tom Lees. Taking the ball in his stride he had a great opportunity but dragged the ball wide of Wildsmith’s left hand post.
This early chance didn’t stop Wednesday trying their luck and attempting to get forward when they had the chance. Although Reading had most of the ball early on, Wednesday took their opportunity when it was presented to them.
In the 11th minute, a big tackle from Massimo Luongo in the middle of the park won back the ball for the Owls. Kadeem Harris picked it up and spread it to the wide left towards Adam Reach who drove down the left wing and delivered a wonderful cross to the back post. Callum Paterson met the cross and headed the ball back across goal, between Liam Moore’s legs and into the net.
For a team who have had no shots on target in two of their last three games, this was the perfect start.
Following this surprise early goal, Wednesday were able to keep the ball for longer than a couple of passes and maintained good tempo whilst doing so. This passage of play resulted in yet another cross into the box. Paterson made a wonderful run to the front post but his header just went wide of the far post.
This attacking play was very encouraging for a Wednesday side who have had the least attempts on target (34) out of any team in the Championship this season and have only scored nine goals in 17 games in all competitions. Given that Reading have conceded 18 goals in the eight games before tonight, Wednesday fans would have been feeling positive.
In the 20th minute, Alfa Semedo won a free kick from Tom Lees, which was taken by the teenager Michael Olise, who smashed the ball into the bottom of Wildsmith’s post.
This chance that allowed Reading to come so close to an equaliser spelled the start of a positive and dominant spell for Reading where they kept the ball well and were being patient whilst probing the Wednesday back line. However, they struggled to break down the Wednesday backline, which looked to spring the ball forwards every time they won the ball back.
After half an hour, the game got a little bit more exciting with a significant turning point for both teams. When Liam Shaw dove in and won the ball with a thumping challenge, Reading players were furious. Although Shaw won the ball, his leading foot went slightly over the ball. He went in recklessly and forced the referee to make a decision. That decision was red for the young midfielder. It wasn’t a stonewall red but could have gone either way; unfortunately for Wednesday, Shaw found himself on the wrong side of that decision.
From then on the game became a lot more one sided. When Olise had a deflected shot go wide in the 35th minute, the resulting corner was almost cheekily flicked in by João at the front post. Soon after, a cross from Ovie Ejaria was poked towards goal by Semedo but a wonderful reflex save from Wildsmith kept it out.
There was more desperate defending to come from Wednesday who wanted to hold on to the point they already had. A shot from Omar Richards after cutting into the box from the left was deflected behind Wildsmith before Reach dug the ball out and over the bar before it could go over the line.
This pattern of play continued. There was attack after attack from Reading as we approached half time.
Just before half time, Richards clearly won a soft free kick by using his body and making the most of the little contact from Kadeem Harris. The resulting free kick was cooly headed in by none other than Lucas João at the back post after he lost his marker Callum Paterson. For Wednesday, it was a silly free kick to give away and they will certainly be regretting that.
Half time Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Reading
At half time Wednesday made a triple change, as Pulis took advantage of the five substitutes he could use. Bannan, Van Aken and Palmer were replaced by Pelupessy, Iorfa, and Odubajo. Looking to hold onto the result, Wednesday adopted a five man defence with Odubajo and Reach at wing back and Iorfa joining Lees and Börner in central defence.
Despite these defensive changes, Wednesday were soon carved open. A ball went through to Omar Richards who left Moses Odubajo chasing shadows in the box. The Reading man was brought down and it was a certain penalty. Despite this, Oliver Langford was unmoved and gave Richards a yellow card instead. The referee certainly got this wrong; it was a stonewall foul from the Wednesday man. This was just the first bit of luck the Owls would get in this second half and boy did they need it.
Following this penalty shout, Massimo Luongo received a booking for a foul and will ultimately miss the game against Norwich at the weekend. A huge blow for the Owls who will be missing Shaw through suspension and potentially the hugely important Barry Bannan, who went off injured at half time.
In the 60th minute Tom Lees gambled and tried to nick the ball off Lucas João. He got it all wrong and presented another free kick opportunity to the young Olise. He connected well with the effort but it flew just over the bar, as Wildsmith was scrambling.
Another chance for Reading came in the 69th minute when Michael Morrison flicked the ball across goal from a corner but Semedo just couldn’t connect before it went out for a goal kick.
When Rinomhota was taken off for Sone Aluko and Tomás Esteves came on for Tom Holmes in the 70th minute it showed Reading’s attacking intent. The game continued in this fashion as Reading dominated the ball and continued to be patient when going forward. They just needed to take their chances when they came.
Approaching the 75th minute, Aluko was looking to make his mark on the game, as his shot from the right of the goal went just wide. This shot was followed by an attacking change, as Sam Baldock was brought on for Michael Olise. The Reading manager was certainly going for the win and his substations showed it.
Heading into the final ten minutes, Tom Lees scuffed a clearance which went back toward his own keeper. This allowed Aluko to almost get on the end of it and poke it into the net. Without a quick intervention from Wildsmith, it could have been a certain goal for Reading.
Later, Ovie Ejaria’s shot from outside of the box went through multiple bodies before reaching Wildsmith’s goal. A good save from the keeper kept Wednesday in the game. This stubborn defending from Wednesday continued as the game progressed. Every time they cleared the ball, it kept coming back towards them in the form via a Reading attack. Poor Kadeem Harris was given the role up top alone and spent most of the second half chasing clearances.
In the 88th minute a short free kick routine from Reading led to a shot which clearly struck Adam Reach straight on the arm. Somehow the referee and his assistants all missed it and Wednesday get lucky yet again. Yet again a stonewall Reading penalty and Wednesday somehow manage to get away with it.
In added time, a battle in the Wednesday box between Josh Laurent and Elias Kachunga, who was fresh onto the field, led to another penalty shout. Again Wednesday got lucky as the referee spotted Laurent pulling the Wednesday man’s shirt. In another game, that decision could have easily gone the other way.
As the match came to an end, Reading piled on the pressure for one last time but the cross was well taken by Wildsmith as the referee blew the final whistle.
Full time: Sheffield Wednesday 1-1 Reading
A crazy one-sided game, which should certainly have had more goals, especially for Reading. The Reading team created many chances but just could not take any clear cut opportunities that came their way. With 78% possession and 20 shots on the Wednesday goal, the Royals will be disappointed that they could not come away with the win. Going into the next game against Nottingham Forest, they will be looking to repeat the performance but take all three points as a result.
From Wednesday perspective, they would have taken a draw before the game but after scoring the opener to go one nil ahead they would have been disappointed to have been drawing at half time. The game got away from them following the red card given to young Liam Shaw, as their poor discipline came back to bite them yet again. Last season in the Championship Wigan and Derby received the most red card with six. Wednesday have already had five this season (all straight red cards) and we are only 15 games in. With Tony Pulis wanting to turn that around Wednesday’s fortunes as quickly as possible, The Owls will regroup during the rest of the week and will be looking to record their first win under Pulis and move closer to safety against a strong Norwich side at the weekend.
Man of the Match: Ovie Ejaria – A really impressive performance. Every time he got the ball he looked like creating something from his teammates and provided the assist for the Reading goal. He just beat Michael Olise to MOTM, who also had an impressive performance. On the Wednesday side, Wildsmith saved the team’s blushes multiple times and prevented this from being a cricket score.