Reading finished off their pre-season fixtures with a 1-1 home draw against Premiership side AFC Bournemouth on Friday evening. Bournemouth took the lead in the first-half courtesy of Lewis Cook’s first goal for the Cherries but John Swift equalised in the second with his first goal for Reading.
All in all it was a decent performance for the Royals and there were plenty of positives to take from the last game before the start of the new Championship season. Here are just some of the things to come out of Friday’s fixture.
Van Den Berg Is A Liability At Centre-Back
The addition of Joey van den Berg to the Reading squad was one that was met with interest. The player will be a real asset to the squad- Just not necessarily at centre-back. Trying out the position for the first time for Reading against Bournemouth, it immediately became clear as to why he has earned a certain reputation. Van den Berg is strong but at times rash and subsequently liable to earn himself a fair few bookings. On this occasion he only received a yellow but you can see that he is the kind of player who is not afraid to launch himself into tackles.
It would appear that the Dutchman also enjoys running forward with the ball- a trait that is positive for a midfielder but one that as a central defender could soon get the team in trouble. The player is committed and subsequently someone that I would like to see operate in a defensive midfield position. If playing at centre-back, however, he could quickly become a liability.
Swift & Beerens Look The Real Deal
If I had to pinpoint two standout performers from Friday’s game, it would be John Swift and Roy Beerens. Despite only playing for 45 minutes in his first game for Reading, Beerens demonstrated the quality that everyone has been talking about in recent weeks. The winger has the ability and willingness to run at defenders and is not afraid to use the skills he has in his locker. While the majority of his crosses did not find their intended target, I am sure it is something that he will perfect as he gets more game time. Fitness is clearly the major concern with him at the moment but he will definitely be an asset for Reading during this campaign.
Based on his performances in pre-season, Swift will also be an important player for the Royals this year. The midfielder took a bit of time to work his way into the game, having lost possession and concentration on a number of occasions, but he was easily Reading’s best attacking threat during the game. One thing I would say, however, is that he will be far more effective if deployed through the middle. Swift was less willing to stretch the play by running down the wing and instead opted to cut inside and try the shot. Operating in behind the striker, I feel that he could be a real asset for the club.
There Will Be Competition For The Starting Central Midfield Positions
George Evans may not have been a key part of Reading’s team last season, but if his performance against Bournemouth is anything to go by then he definitely should be this year. Both he and Danny Williams put in impressive performances in the centre of Reading’s midfield and will have subsequently played themselves into contention for a starting eleven spot in the opening Championship fixture against Preston.
While there are certain positions such as centre-back and striker that have become somewhat light in recent times, there is the opposite problem in the centre of midfield. With Danny Williams, George Evans, Oliver Norwood, Stephen Quinn, Joey Van Den Berg, John Swift and Liam Kelly all vying for three central positions at most, they will all be kept on their toes this season. If there were ever a good problem to have, however, this would be up there as it is always better to have too many options than not enough.
Reading Are Capable Of Passing The Ball Forwards
Despite being somewhat tongue in cheek, there is a point to be made here. In recent years, Reading fans have been particularly frustrated when it comes to the frequency of the players passing the ball along the back four and back to the keeper before launching it back up field during games.
Yes there were far too many occasions during the game where Reading returned to their usual habit, but the goal demonstrated exactly what the side are capable of. The play leading up to Swift’s goal was precise and controlled in the final third- something fans will be hoping to see more of in the upcoming season.
The Youngsters Are Impressing
Following the passing of Eamonn Dolan and with the academy earning the highest category one status, the youngsters at the club are something that fans have become increasingly passionate about. It is therefore exciting to see so many of them being given a chance to impress and subsequently doing well in pre-season.
Craig Tanner came on in place of Roy Beerens at half time against Bournemouth and delivered an inch perfect cross for Reading’s goal. Tennai Watson came on in place of Chris Gunter and looked particularly composed considering it was his first home involvement with the first team. If Gunter were to leave the club, I’m sure fans would be happy to see Watson given a chance. Liam Kelly also made his first home appearance for the first team and he is one that has particularly impressed the coaching team in recent weeks.
Given that the likes of Dominic Samuel, Tariqe Fosu, Craig Tanner, Liam Kelly and co. were loaned out last season to lower division clubs, moves this season cannot be ruled out just yet. This being said, with Brian Tevreden talking openly to Get Reading about how impressed he and the staff have been with the youngsters it is clear that they will be playing some part this season.