Goals from Lucas Joao, Andy Rinomhota and John Swift saw Reading to a comfortable 3-0 victory at home to a sloppy Coventry City side. The result temporarily leaves Reading in 3rd place, leapfrogging Bournemouth in the process whilst retaining a game in hand over the Cherries.
Reading had only lost seven times in the first half of the season, but face a string of five games against teams that felled them earlier in the campaign. This run has been dubbed ‘revenge month’ by the squad and it was served to Coventry on a cold and rainy night in the Royal County.
However, after 17 days without a league game, it was Reading who started the colder as Tom Holmes sold McIntyre short leaving O’Hare one on one in the box. Rafael got down well to save, with McIntyre putting in a robust challenge from the rebound.
Ten minutes later, a clever corner routine from the visitors ended with McCallum’s cross finding Ostigard unmarked in the centre of the box. Fortunately for the Royals his glancing header flashed inches past the post.
But with possibly the most exciting front four in the league on the field for the hosts, it was only going to be a matter of time for something to open up. John Swift was given too much time to pick a delivery into the box, looking for Joao. The Reading forward fought off Hyam and slammed his shot past Wilson for 1-0.
On 25 minutes, Ejaria went on a mazy run down the left side jinking past three Coventry defenders. With Joao free for the square ball, Ejaria elected to shoot and his attempt rebounded to safety off of the inside of Wilson’s right post.
Coventry dominated much of the first-half play, getting into good crossing locations but failed to create anything of note with Morrison and McIntrye dealing with most deliveries fairly comfortably.
They were nearly made to pay for their ineffectual attacking play, as Ejaria and Olise linked up well to find Holmes before half time. Holmes’ low delivery failed to be cleared by the visitors and was met at the back post by Joao who was unable to fire the ball on target under pressure from Ostigard.
At half time Reading would have been pleased with their attacking play, but concerned about the amount of control Coventry had over the game. The requirement would have been for a second goal to put the game beyond the reach of a Coventry team that has only won twice away from home all season.
That requirement was met within a minute of the second half starting. Olise found Joao on the right side of the box who dragged the ball back for Ejaria. The mercurial talent produced a wonderful dummy (read: horrendous air shot) and the ball rolled to the edge of the box. Ready and waiting was an onrushing Andy Rinomhota on his 100th Reading appearance, his left-footed strike was low into the corner with Wilson unable to keep it out despite getting a hand to it.
Ten minutes later, Ostigard had the opportunity to pull the game back within reach as he rose highest to meet a Matty James corner but couldn’t get on top of the ball as his header flew over the bar.
Coventry continued to attack, predominantly through Dabo’s deliveries into the box. However, it was a Hamer free-kick that was to provide the best opportunity for the visitors as Ostigard wriggled free from Ejaria at the far post. His powerful header was saved one-handed by Rafael to protect Reading’s advantage.
The game was put beyond Coventry as two cynical fouls in relatively quick succession from McFadzean produced two yellows as Olise and then Ejaria beat him for pace after picking up on loose balls in the Coventry half.
The second of those challenges offered the talismanic Swift with a free-kick from 35 yards out to the left of centre. What followed was a powerful, swerving strike into the top corner that Wilson was unable to get within the same postcode of. Simply sensational from Swift, and a reminder of what Reading have been missing in his absence.
Reading went from the sublime to the terrible shortly afterwards. Tetek picked up on yet another loose ball in the Coventry half. He set Sam Baldock through one on one with the keeper for what looked like a comfortable 4-0 opportunity. However, the out of form and out of favour Baldock couldn’t improve his prospects as he fired wide of the inside post.
Coventry kept pressing and hit the post in injury time as Biamou rose highest to yet another cross. Rafael was stranded but breathed a huge sigh of relief as the ball bounced off of his right-hand post to safety.
That was to be the final opportunity as Reading started revenge month with an emphatic victory. Reading will hope that the shoulder injury sustained by Olise after McFadzean’s challenge isn’t too serious in what was otherwise a perfect night.
Next up for the Royals is a trip to Deepdale on Sunday lunchtime, with the Sky Blues facing a key derby day against Birmingham on Saturday.