Holden demands reaction against Royals
Posted: Tuesday, February 16th 2021
Tuesday, February 16th 2021
The Robins were dealt a double blow just before half-time as Reading secured a 2-0 win at Ashton Gate.
Lucas João pounced from close range to open the scoring in the 42nd minute and three minutes later their lead was doubled through the advancing Michael Morrison with a delicate chip.
City showed more fight in the second half but they couldn’t find a way to break through Reading in a disappointing evening under the BS3 lights.
Jack Hunt started at left-wing back for the first time in his career, but such is the demand of Dean Holden as he looks to his professionals to stand up and fill the gaps due to injuries. Young Ryley Towler would be named on the bench after making his club and league debut in the last week. Ádam Nagy, Adrian Mariappa and Nahki Wells all started after making substitute appearances last time out, while Steven Sessegnon would be named among the substitutes after recovering from a long-term hamstring injury.
City would have been proud of their early work off the ball with a shape to frustrate Reading who were looking for a first win in four games. The Robins' defending was cagey at times but they did the job in defence to show they were up for the fight.
But the Royals soon began to create the chances with Henri Lansbury in the right place to block a Tomas Esteves shot after Dan Bentley scooped away a loose ball.
Tomas Kalas was then on blocking duty as he deflected an Ovie Ejaria effort wide, before Ejaria nearly returned the favour with a pullback of his own as Omar Richards saw a shot cleared off the line by Hunt.
But the signs were there and Reading finally broke the deadlock three minutes before half-time. João grabbed his 20th goal of the campaign to open the scoring when he latched on to Michael Olise’s free kick and powered the ball beyond Bentley from close range.
And it was two-nil moments later, this time Royals captain Morrison was the unlikely scorer. The centre-back drove forward, played a one-two with João, before bundling his way through City’s defenders and scooping the ball over Bentley just before the break.
If City had needed to show a response earlier, they certainly did now and Kalas rose highest to force their first shot on target minutes into the second half as he met a Lansbury corner - but Rafael Cabral held on.
At the other end, Esteves dragged a shot wide and Olise misfired with Bentley untroubled before Taylor Moore guided a header wide from another accurate Lansbury delivery.
Holden looked to his bench after the hour-mark with Kasey Palmer, Antoine Semenyo and Tyreeq Bakinson all called on to replace Zak Vyner, Jamie Paterson and Lansbury – the latter looked to have suffered a knock to his glute.
Reading soon came forward though and Esteves misfired, while Bentley showed quick reactions to deny Tom McIntyre at his near post.
Reading forced a number of soft free kicks as the game progressed in their bid to frustrate the Robins and Han-Noah Massengo replaced Nagy inside the final ten minutes, but City’s task of getting anything from this game looked more and more unlikely.
There were flashes of bright, positive play but the hosts struggled to threaten, even with their fight and determination to hold the Royals in this second half.
However, they couldn’t squeeze anything as the minutes ticked by with the final whistle confirming a sixth-straight defeat in all competitions.
City are next in action when they host Barnsley in BS3 on Saturday (February 20th, 3pm KO).