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Preview: Reading v Blues

Visiting the Madejski Stadium will evoke happy memories for Blues.

BCFC

Blues face their second away game in a row as they travel to reading in the Sky Bet Championship.

Visiting the Madejski Stadium will evoke happy memories for Blues after their 3-2 victory there last season.

And a repeat of that outcome on Wednesday night would mark back-to-back wins for the second time this season - on a ground where Blues are unbeaten in the league since 2013.

The trip to Berkshire comes shortly after a well-deserved three points at Bristol City where skipper Harlee Dean scored the winner ten minutes from time.

Earlier that day, Reading had secured their own maximum by beating Nottingham Forest 2-0, a result that put them top of the division for a few hours.

Victory over the Reds was also witnessed by a crowd of 2,000 home fans, with the area finding itself subject to Tier 2 COVID-19 regulations.

THE OPPOSITION:

Having appointed Veljko Paunovic just a week before the start of the season, it may have seemed that Reading would have their work cut out in the opening months of the campaign, but the former Chicago Fire boss has made a strong start to life in England.

Taking on a side who finished 14th in 2019/20, the Serbian has recorded nine league wins to take his team just one point off top spot ahead of this round of fixtures.

Impressively, the Royals were unbeaten until the latter stages of October after winning their opening five matches and only dropping one point in their first nine outings.

This was followed by a difficult period in which four successive defeats stunted the progress of the early frontrunners. Home defeats to Preston North End and Stoke City, both by a 0-3 scoreline, were sandwiched between losses on the road at Coventry City and Bournemouth.

The latter came after Reading had found themselves two goals ahead, but ultimately proved a turning point with Paunovic’s men unbeaten in four outings since.

Each of these matches has seen Lucas João find the net, with the frontman’s prolific form in front of goal seeing him sit third in the league’s scoring charts. Clearly the home sides danger man, he also notched a hat-trick in the Carabao Cup.

LAST TIME OUT:

Blues returned to winning ways with victory at Bristol City. The success on the banks of the Severn, which saw recent signing Alen Halilović make his debut, was Blues first since October and came courtesy of Dean’s powerful header. This followed a succession of second-half chances, including an Ivan Sanchez effort that rattled the post.

Meanwhile, Reading recorded a comfortable victory over Nottingham Forest, with their cause aided by an early red card shown to opposition player Ryan Yates after he handled the ball on the line. João converted the resulting penalty, before former-Blue Michael Morrison made sure of the points after the break.

WE MEET AGAIN:

Reading 2 Blues 3, 07 December 2019

Blues were lifted to 13th place as they won a goal-laden game at the Madejski last December. The entertaining encounter was also notable for Jeremie Bela’s first goal in English Football.

Having soaked up early pressure from the hosts, Pep Clotet’s side took the lead four minutes before the break. Although it was officially recorded as a Morrison own goal, the opener came via a Jude Bellingham shot.

This was, however, not enough to see Blues lead at the break, with Yakou Meite drawing Reading level on the cusp of half-time.

Fortunately, this did not swing momentum back in the home side’s favour as Bela struck in emphatic fashion with 59 minutes played - his free-kick proving unstoppable on its way to the top corner.

He then turned provider for Spanish forward Alvaro Gimenez two minutes from time, with João’s goal that followed proving no more than a consolation for Reading.

BLUES TEAM NEWS:

Adam Clayton (ankle), Zach Jeacock (ankle) remain unavailable and Caolan Boyd-Munce (thigh). Clean bill of health, elsewhere.

HEAD-TO-HEAD:

Blues wins: 15

Draws: 12

Reading wins: 14

LAST FIVE MEETINGS:

Championship 07 Mar 2020 – Blues 1 Reading 3

Championship 07 Dec 2019 – Reading 2 Blues 3

Championship 05 May 2019 – Reading 0 Blues 0

Championship 23 Oct 2018 – Blues 2 Reading 1

League Cup 14 Aug 2018 – Reading 2 Blues 0

BLUESTV:

Supporters can watch this game live on BluesTV for only £10.

MATCH OFFICIALS:

Referee - Matthew Donohue

Assistant Referees - Mark Russell and George Byrne

Fourth Official - Peter Gibbons

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