Reading vs Fulham Preview: Who will seal a place at Wembley for play-off final?

Reading vs Fulham Preview: Who will seal a place at Wembley for play-off final?

Reading will be looking to seal a trip to Wembley in the second leg of their play-off semi-final in The Championship against Fulham at The Madejski Stadium on Tuesday night.

samstraw
Sam Straw

Reading will be looking to seal a trip to Wembley in the second leg of their play-off semi-final in The Championship against Fulham at The Madejski Stadium on Tuesday night. 

Despite Reading finishing higher in the league and having home advantage, it is still Fulham who are being viewed as favourites ahead of this second leg.

However, Jaap Stam will still fancy that his team can get the job done in front of their home crowd and will hope the 1-0 home win they achieved over the Cottagers earlier on in the season will put them in good stead. 

How they've fared so far

Reading have arguably been one of the surprise packages in the Championship this season. Not many people predicted Stam to turn the Royals' fortunes around quite as much as he has.

They won 26 of their 46 games in the league this season and finished eight points behind second placed Brighton & Hove Albion. Reading supporters could not have asked for much more from his first season as manager of the club.

There is no doubt that they do have an array of talent throughout the squad with the likes of Liam Moore, Gareth McCleary, Yann Kermorgrant and Jordan Swift, just to name a few. Stam has already outlined his fear that they could lose some of their key assets this summer if they fail to gain promotion to the Premier League

It has been Reading's away form that has been questionable at times this season but their form at The Madejski Stadium has stayed relatively solid throughout the season. It will be interesting to see if they can continue their excellent home form on Tuesday night.

As for Fulham, they finished the season very strongly and came into the play-offs with arguably the most momentum out of all the sides in the top six. Their results never tailed off as Slavisa Jovanovic had to continue playing his full-strength team until the end of the season, to ensure the Cottagers finished in the play-off positions. 

It has been a superb season for the club and their attacking threat has been there for all to see. They have scored the most goals out of any team in the play-offs with 85, which was only matched by champions Newcastle United

They will not fear the trip to Reading on Tuesday night, with their away form being particularly impressive of late. The likes of Tom Cairney, Sone Aluko and Ryan Sessegnon will fancy their chances of exploiting the Reading defence with pace on the break. 

Last time they met

Reading last played Fulham in a 1-1 draw at Craven Cottage in the first leg of their play-off final on Saturday evening. Jordan Obita gave the Royals the lead before Cairney equalised shortly afterwards to ensure that they go into this second leg on level terms.

Tom Cairney got the equaliser for Fulham on Saturday. (picture: Getty Images / Harry Hubbard)
Tom Cairney got the equaliser for Fulham on Saturday. (picture: Getty Images / Harry Hubbard)

Reading did get the better of Fulham in this fixture back in January as they came out 1-0 winners at The Madejski Stadium. Roy Beerens got the goal for the Royals and Ali Al-Habsi saved a late Chris Martin penalty to ensure all three points.  

Team news

Jokanovic's side picked up no fresh injuries from the first leg on Saturday evening and he could choose to start the exact same starting line-up.

However, the same cannot be said for Reading who will be without their captain Paul McShane after he is suspended following his sending off at the weekend.

Reading's goalscorer at the weekend, Obita, is also a doubt after he was taken off with an ankle injury at full-time in the first leg.

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