Reading are timing their run perfectly to gain promotion to the Premier League after beating Leeds United and moving to the top of the Championship.
After beating West Ham 4-2 last weekend the whole team must have been very confident going into the game especially when Leeds were reduced to 10 men after 13 minutes. But they were made to work hard for their win as Leeds stuck at it and defended very well and also attacked on the counter to good effect which made the home fans very nervous towards the end of the game and maybe 2-0 flatters the Royals slightly. Adam Le Fondre stepped off the bench to score twice and prove that he can be the man to fire the team into the Premier League. The signing from Rotherham United hasn’t quite settled in as quickly as the fans would have hoped but these two crucial goals will give him the belief that he deserves to be playing Championship football at least next season. He was expected to score the goals this year but that hasn’t quite worked out, however in his defence, nobody has hit double figures for Reading this season so they have had to rely on goals from all over the pitch with even centre back Alex Pearce chipping in with five goals this season.
If Reading do get promoted, do they have a good enough squad to compete in the Premier League or are they just very good Championship players? In goal they have Adam Federici who in my opinion is very underrated outside of the Championship but he is one of the best in the league and has made some heroic saves this season. Including an important one against Leeds when Robert Snodgrass had the opportunity to score but Federici stood up for as long as he could and palmed it away.
The defence is a mixture of potential and experience. Ian Harte is one of the best footballing left backs and has been his whole career, as it is worth remembering he once played in a Champions League semi final. How many players can say that in the country never mind the Championship? As mentioned previously they also have Alex Pearce who not only defends very well especially in the air, he also adds an attacking threat from set pieces which are usually precisely delivered by Harte.
The midfield is where I think they are at their best, especially out wide where they have many options with Hal Robson-Kanu and even Michail Antonio good enough to make most teams which is remarkable seen as though Antonio is out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday. But their first choice wingers are fantastic in Jimmy Kebe and Jobi McAnuff, they are both very direct and force full back onto the back foot as soon as they get the ball. In the middle they also have quality in Jem Karacan and Mikele Leigertwood who at every opportunity look to feed the wingers and provide a good screen for the back four as well as get into the box to grab goals.
The strikers is where I think they may fall down as they have good players but maybe not Premier League standard. Jason Roberts has came in and done magnificently but there is a reason why Blackburn didn’t feel he was good enough when they were in desperate need. However there were contractual issues there so maybe he would have played more of a part if that was sorted out. Noel Hunt works hard and has a great leap on him but he was easily marked out of the game by a second choice Leeds defence so they would need to invest in a striker if they do go up.
I really like the way Reading play as they look to cross the ball a lot and force defenders into mistakes. Brian McDermott deserves a lot of credit and seeing his celebration after the first goal showed how much it meant to the whole club. I would like to see them go up and them to achieve some success as the fans have been fantastic over the years and the stadium deserves Premier League football once again.