Reading were outplayed and outclassed by a well drilled Preston side as they slipped to a third consecutive away defeat.

That defeat saw victors Preston move up to eighth in the table whilst vanquished Reading stayed in fifth place and unable to profit from Sheffield Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to Aston Villa where a win by the Berkshire-based team would have stretched the gap from their South Yorkshire rivals.

Preston Starting X11

Preston Substitutes

Reading Starting X11

Reading Substitutes

First Half

In the preview for this game I earmarked Chris Gunter and Tyler Blackett as the weak links in this Reading team, and Preston targeted the pair from the get-go in this game.The Royals started this game slowly, and

The Royals started the match slowly, but almost took the lead when Lewis Grabban’s dipping shot sailed just over the crossbar. Garath McCleary also had a chance to stick the away side in front, but his strike was well saved by Chris Maxwell.

Reading were made to pay for their attacking profligacy when Tyler Blackett was caught slacking, and Tom Barkhuizen, fresh from an injury time equaliser in midweek, curled an excellent shot into the top corner.

It was a sense of deja vu when soon after the opener, Preston broke from a Reading corner and after a bursting run from Barkhuizen, Daryl Horgan converted to make it 2-0 to the hosts. The Royals have conceded from their own corners against both Brighton and Ipswich in recent months.

In truth, Reading were lucky to be only 2-0 down, and offered barely anything in terms of attacking creativity in the first half.

Second Half

If Jaap Stam thought his side would come out for the second period rejuvenated, he would’ve been disappointed.

Less than 5 minutes after the restart, Barkhuizen make Lewis Grabban pay for some sloppy marking from a Preston free kick, and put the game beyond Reading.

Even at 3-0 down, The Royals failed to create any real openings, and Championship Player of the Month Aiden McGeady was having a field day out on the wing.

If the visiting fans were to take any positives from this game then it would be Reece Oxford’s performance coming off the bench. In his 20 minute cameo he looked composed and comfortable on the ball and will surely replace Paul McShane in the next game, who picked up an injury.

The defeat cuts Reading’s leeway over 7th place to just 4 points, while Preston move into 8th, just 6 points off the Play-Off places.

About Author

Sports journalist and editor. Southend-based Reading FC fan. Can sometimes catch me editing for In Bed With Maradona. Find me on Twitter @HarrySmithRFC