PREVIEW: Reading FC vs SWFC

Time is running out.

The Owls simply have to return from the Madjeski Stadium with all three points if they are to claw back the seven-point deficit that separates them from safety.

On Wednesday night, the Owls were dealt a crushing (and undeserved) blow courtesy of a Freddie Ladapo strike. The Rotherham United game is in the past though, and that’s where it must remain.

There was evidence of a shift in mentality and outlook from the Owls, they certainly broke the line more and looked to build attacks rather than resort to route one football.

In Reading, however, the Owls have a far tougher opposition. 

The Royals lie in fifth and have won their last two (against the Millers and Blackburn Rovers). 

They’ve nearly doubled the Owls’ goal tally for the season, with 46. 17 of those are courtesy of a man many Wednesdayites will know all about: Lucas Joao.

Defensively, Reading have been just as sound. They have kept 15 clean sheets this campaign, which is the third-best tally in the league.

For the Owls, it’s a case of finding their ruthless edge in front of goal. Callum Paterson alone spurned a multitude of great chances in midweek.

One thing that was clear on Wednesday was that Adam Reach is incomparable to his former self. Granted, he was deployed on the right yet (regardless of how many times Sky Sports commentators mention his screamers) he simply looks disinterested and ineffective. Perhaps it’s unfair to single him out completely, and he certainly isn’t the only one who’s commitment can be questioned, but he was infuriating at times. 

Therefore, a return for Kadeem Harris is in order.

Another player I’d like to see return is Osaze Urhoghide. If the Owls are to have any success in renewing his contract, he needs game-time. Liam Palmer, whilst competent is unfortunately just that – ‘competent’. 

How I would line-up – Wildsmith; Urhoghide, Lees, Borner, Penney; Hutchinson, Shaw; Harris, Bannan, Windass; Paterson

Score prediction – 1-1. A classic case of not being able to back a Wednesday loss – make of that what you will.

Ahead of the game, and as part of our ‘Opposition View’, I spoke to ‘Elm Park Royals’ (@ElmParkRoyals) about all things Reading FC and what we can expect from their side…

Which players do Wednesday need to keep their eyes on?

Wednesday need to watch out for Josh Laurent who has gone relatively unnoticed this season at CM and is a machine, he will cover every blade of grass the field has to offer. Alongside that, Puscas may now start and will be one to watch up front. You all already know about Lucas Joao, and how well he has done this season – although he has been off form slightly. Lastly, Omar Richards at left-back has been one of our top performers this season and has 99% signed for Bayern Munich from next season.

Josh Laurent in action during the reverse fixture (which ended 1-1). Image: skysports.com

If you could bring one Wednesday player to Reading FC, who would it be and why?

The one Wednesday player I want more than any other is Kadeem Harris. It’s been said all season that Reading don’t have enough pace out wide, and he would have been the perfect player for us to sign 12 months ago. My hope is if you do go down, it’s someone we have our eyes on.

How would you describe Veljko Paunović’s tenure at the club?

Paunovic has bought a sense of siege mentality to the squad and the club, and more than anything has instilled some belief in them which has been largely lacking in recent years. He has got huge trust in a few members of his squad and will stand by those who perform for him until the bitter end. It has been a pleasant surprise to see just how stout we’ve become at the back generally, whilst adding some attacking threat going forward.

Where do you think you’ll finish this season?

I think we will make the playoffs, but it could be close with Barnsley and Cardiff both riding our coattails fast. I’m going to say we’ll finish 6th on 76 points.

Finally, what’s your score prediction?

As for a score prediction, I read that if Wednesday concede first the game is almost over {you’re not wrong there!}! 13 losses from 13 goals conceded first I think? So therefore I’ll go with a tentative 2-0 Reading victory tomorrow with Joao to bag against his former side.

Many thanks to Elm Park Royals for taking part in our ‘Opposition View’ and good luck for the rest of the season (just not today!)

UTO!

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