Reading picked up their first win in the Championship this season, beating Aston Villa 2-1. The Royals moved to four points, with Villa sitting on only one, following their second consecutive defeat after drawing their first.
In the opening exchanges, chances were few and far between, but Villa did have an early opportunity through Andre Green, after the ball deflected into his path following a fast counter attack, but Vito Mannone was up to the task in the Reading goal.
Villa sat back, trying to plug holes that Reading could exploit, but Reading did have a good opportunity through John Swift. The England Under 21 International was teed up after Chris Gunter and Mo Barrow played some neat football around the box, before Swift curled his effort just past the post.
Reading had their tails up now, as Barrow put in a great delivery for Swift, but Villa left back Neil Taylor snuck in to clear for a corner. The Royals had a couple more half chances, heading wide from corner conceded after a deflected effort just snuck past the post.
Villa made an early change, Scott Hogan being replaced by Gabby Agbonlahor, who was judged offside almost immediately after coming following a rare attack from the visitors. As the half went on, new Reading signing Adrian Popa started to get involved more and more, forcing Villa ‘keeper Sam Johnstone to make a fantastic double save to keep the game goalless.
At half time, the score was still goalless, with Johnstone being the busiest of the two goalkeepers, but Villa had defended resiliently.
Fast restart was rewarding for the Royals
Reading came out of the blocks quickly in the second half, Liam Kelly fired just past the post right after half time. And the Royals kept the pressure on as they opened the scoring in the 49th minute after Popa’s cross was deflected by Glenn Whelan, catching out Johnstone.
Goal line technology was used as the on loan Manchester United goalkeeper clawed the ball out, but referee Kevin Friend ruled the ball had crossed the line following the use of the technology. This is the first time the Hawk Eye system has had to be used at the Madejski Stadium this season, following the introduction of the technology to the Championship this season.
Kelly was causing the Villa defence problems, forcing Johnstone to make another great save. The Royals then made their great start to the half even better, with Barrow smashing in his first goal for the club following Liam Moore’s cross to double the lead.
This was the kick pre season promotion favourites Villa needed, Green probing on the left, but summing up their night, overhit his cross. After an effort from Popa hitting the side netting, Green had another opportunity, driving a low shot towards goal but Mannone got down well.
Gareth McCleary then made his return from injury as a second half substitute for the Royals, and he almost extended the lead, before Villa sub Alan Hutton stepped in to clear the danger. Reading were now on the defensive, as Villa were in search of a way back into the game. The Royals held strong right until the 87th minute when Conor Hourihane struck a half volley into the net to set up a nervy finish.
What did the two managers have to say?
Royals manager Jaap Stam was impressed with his teams “very aggressive, sharp and concentrated” start to the game. He did highlight the need to make the game more comfortable by taking some earlier chances.
For Villa, manager Steve Bruce said he was disappointed as he “didn’t think we deserved to lose”. He was pleased with the response of his team late on, but knows his team must take their chances in this league.
Reading next travel to Preston North End, while Aston Villa host Norwich City, both games kicking off on Saturday at 15:00.