Reading returned to Championship action in style on Saturday with a 3-0 win against Burton. The Royals have now won four games in a row in the league and have pushed themselves up to third in the table.
Here are some of the things that came out of the game.
Samuel Repays Faith
Fans have been calling for the introduction of Dominic Samuel for weeks now so many will have been happy to see his name on the team sheet at the weekend. Others would not have been so keen on playing an untested youngster as the sole striker in the Championship. The latter will have been eating their words on Saturday.
With Yann Kermorgant out through injury, Samuel was gifted the opportunity to lead the line against Burton. The youngster had the beating of the defence in terms of speed and was a great attacking outlet for the side. His first goal for the Royals was well taken and demonstrated exactly the difference between what he offers the team in comparison to Kermorgant. It is still early in his Reading career but the signs are promising.
Jordan Obita has faced increased competition at the left-back spot since the arrival of Tyler Blackett. Against Burton, however, Jaap Stam mixed things up a bit with a change of formation and as a consequence both Obita and Blackett found themselves in the starting lineup.
The only question was whether Obita would be used as a left winger or a full-back. Based on his performance it was a bit of both as he spent as much time attacking as he did defending. His inch perfect cross into Danny Williams was a highlight and he continuously threatened down the left wing. Obita was doing so well even Roy Beerens seemed to be leaving the crossing to him.
While the formation may not the favoured option for the majority of the season, Obita in particular flourished in his new role.
There Is A Plan B
As previously mentioned, Jaap Stam opted with a 5-3-2 formation against Burton instead of his usual 4-3-3. With Paul McShane, Liam Moore and Tyler Blackett playing in the back three together with Chris Gunter and Jordan Obita as full-backs, Reading looked largely content at the back. The full-backs in particular also spent a fair portion of the game getting forward, providing extra options down the wing.
With Yann Kermorgant, John Swift and Joey van den Berg all out through injury, Stam had to try something different and based on the end result it worked perfectly. While it has to be said that Burton were not the best team to visit the Madejski this season, I’m sure many will be happy to see this formation revisited.
Refereeing Standards Show No Sign Of Improving
Sadly in the Championship in particular, poor refereeing decisions are part and parcel of games. Keith Stroud was the referee for the game at the Madejski and he seemed to upset a fair portion of those in attendance with his decisions.
The worst of the decisions was the foul on Samuel as he seemed to be through on goal. Instead of playing the ball, Ben Turner appeared to just push Samuel over. The referee waved away appeals and had to speak to Stam after he protested the decision.
Unfortunately for football fans, the problem is not limited to one single referee and it seems to be a common problem in the division. For once, it would be nice to not have the actions of the referee to complain about.
Promotion On The Cards?
No one would have expected to be as high as third but that is where Reading currently find themselves. Of course when things are going well it is easy to get carried away and subsequently talk has already turned to promotion. The Royals are also no longer flying under the radar with more media outlets now focused in their direction.
If Reading can continue their current form then of course they are promotion candidates. Nothing is guaranteed, however, and everyone knows how quickly things can change in this division. That said, things are going well at the moment and long may it continue.