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Big Match Preview: Reading away

City return to Sky Bet Championship action tomorrow when they travel to the Madejski Stadium to face Jaap Stam’s Reading (kick-off 3pm).

After three successive league draws, Lee Johnson's side will be eager to secure maximum points against last season’s play-off finalists as City return to competitive action after a 15-day break.

Here’s a look at the tomorrow’ opposition.

FACTFILE

Formed: 1871
Nickname: The Royals
Website: www.readingfc.co.uk
Twitter: @ReadingFC
Ground: Madejski Stadium
Capacity: 24,161

Honours
Football League Second Division 2005/06, 2011/12
Football League Third Division 1925/26, 1985/86, 1993/94
Football League Fourth Division 1978/79

Last season
League finish:
3rd in the Championship, lost to Huddersfield Town on penalities in the play-off final
FA Cup: Third Round, lost to Manchester United
EFL Cup: Fourth Round, lost to Arsenal
Top scorer: Yann Kermorgant, 19 goals
Average attendance:
17,481

HOW DID THEY GET HERE?

Expectations are high for the Royals this campaign after finishing third in the Sky Bet Championship last season, only missing out on promotion to the promise land on penalties to Huddersfield Town.

Reading currently sit 11th in the division - two places above City - and are struggling to rediscover their scintillating form displayed last season, having already suffered defeats to Preston North End and Queens Park Rangers respectively.

Stam has been busy in the transfer window, adding the highly rated Mo Barrow to his ranks from Swansea City, Aston Villa’s Andre Bacuna, and most recently the experienced Sone Aluko from local rivals Fulham.

Although the Reading boss has dismissed expectations on the club to secure automatic promotion this campaign, Stam will be looking to secure maximum points in front of his home fans tomorrow to make their league standing more attractive.

JAAP STAM WON THE TREBLE AT MANCHESTER UNITED IN HIS FIRST SEASON WITH THE CLUB

MEET THE GAFFER: JAAP STAM

Stam was appointed the manager at the Madejski Stadium in the summer of 2016 and in doing so became the first overseas boss in the club’s history.

Most famous for his stint at Manchester United, the Kampen-born centre-back arrived in Berkshire with a wealth of experience.

During three full seasons at Old Trafford – his only in English football - Stam won three consecutive Premier League titles, one FA Cup and played a full part in the UEFA Champions League victory to complete the treble in 1998/99.

The former Dutch international hung up his boots in 2007 and since then he has won the Eerste Divisie with PEC Zwolle and helped Ajax take the top tier title.

His first season as a manager in his own right exceeded all expectations, guiding the Royals to a play-off final in what was the seventh best season the club has experienced, leading to the boss penning a new two-year deal in the summer.

SONE ALUKO IS EXPECTED TO MAKE HIS READING DEBUT TOMORROW

STAR MAN: SONE ALUKO

In switching Craven Cottage for the Madejski Stadium, Aluko became the club’s seventh signing of the summer, penning a four-year deal with the Royals.

The pacey forward bagged nine goals for Fulham last season – his best goalscoring season since 2011/12 - but yet to find the net this term, Aluko will be desperate to get off the mark when he makes his debut tomorrow, if selected.

The 28-year-old, who can play up front or out wide, boasts a wealth of experience at this level and his ability to run at defenders combined with his eye for goal makes him a real threat.

DELE ADEBOLA HEADED CITY INTO A FIRST HALF LEAD

MEMORABLE MEETING: 2008-09 season

READING 0-2 BRISTOL CITY

Adebola 26, Skuse 48.

Gary Johnson asked his side to treat the game like a cup final and the gamble paid off handsomely when they gained sweet revenge for a 4-1 drubbing in the reverse fixture.

City arrived in Berkshire in confident spirits, winning five of their last six games, and in denting Reading’s hopes of automatic promotion, Johnson’s side gave their own play-off chances a boost.

The City boss employed Dele Adebola as a lone striker and his tactics were rewarded when the target man headed home Michael McIndoe’s inswinging free kick to give the visitors a half-time lead.

Straight after the restart, Cole Skuse doubled the advantage when he scrambled in his effort from inside the six-yard area from Lee Johnson’s ball.

Leroy Lita struck the post and forced a save from Adriano Basso as the game drew to a close, but City held on to send the 4,500 travelling supporters back to Bristol with maximum points.

Reading: Federici, Rosenior, Pearce (Hunt 81), Duberry, Armstrong, Kebe, Cisse (Matejovsky 60), Harper (Gunnarsson 59), Stephen Hunt, Doyle, Lita. Subs not used: Hahnemann, Tabb.

Bristol City: Basso, Orr, Carey, Fontaine, McAllister, Sproule (Murray 75), Johnson, Skuse (Iriekpen 82), McIndoe, Williams, Adebola (John 68). Subs not used: Henderson, Maynard.

Attendance 22,462.

AND FINALLY…

Officials
Referee: James Linington
Assistant Referees: Lee Venamore and Micheal George
Fourth Official: Craig Hicks

Betting (via Sky Bet)
Reading – 7/5
Draw – 12/5
Bristol City – 9/5