Carroll on target as Reading close in on play-off places

27 December 2022 0 By Total Football News

Reading climbed back to the cusp of the play-off places courtesy of a 2-1 win over Swansea on a drizzly evening at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

Andy Carroll’s third goal of the season put Paul Ince’s men ahead, and it might have been two within five minutes had Yakou Meite not mindlessly blazed his penalty over the bar.

Andy Carroll celebrates after putting Reading in front against Swansea

Image: Andy Carroll celebrates after putting Reading in front against Swansea

The Royals did find a second early in the second half, when Tom Ince’s deflected shot wrong-footed Steven Benda, and though Liam Cullen halved the deficit with 19 minutes to play, it was not enough to spark the comeback the Swans required.

In typical Championship fashion, Reading’s 11th league win of the season sees them move from 16th up to eighth, level with Norwich, Millwall and QPR on 35 points, and outside the top six on goal difference alone.

Russell Martin’s Swans – who are now on an eight-game winless streak, with their last victory on October 23 – drop to 16th.

How the Royals made their play-off aspirations known again

Though the game was played at a high tempo to start with, it did take a while to warm up and for the chances to begin to flow. Given that there had been 22 goals scored in the last four meetings between the teams, that was always likely to be the case.

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Steven Benda takes the free-kick and he finds Andy Carroll straight away, who fires his third of the season into the back of the net to give Reading the lead.

Carroll recorded the game’s first clear-cut chance when he adjusted his position to steer a header straight into Benda’s arms, while at the other end Oli Cooper forced a save from Joe Lumley, who then clawed the ball from his feet and was left untested when Ryan Manning arrowed the loose ball over from a tight angle.

It was Carroll who broke the deadlock, firing home from 15 yards after Benda leapt to punch away a free-kick, but directed the ball straight to the towering striker, who did not need a second invitation.

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Yakou Meite steps up to take the spot-kick following from Andy Carroll who was pulled down by Jay Fulton in the box. The Royals had the chance to double their lead, but it was all over by an overshot by Meite much to the Swansea fan’s delight!

Four minutes later, referee James Linington pointed to the spot when Carroll was pulled down by Jay Fulton in the box, but Meite sent the resulting penalty way over the bar, to the delight of the Swansea fans behind the goal.

However less than 10 minutes after the break the hosts did double their lead after Swansea were caught playing out from the back. The ball was worked to Ince, whose composed low shot took a wicked deflection and left Benda rooted to the spot as it rolled over the line.

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Tom Ince’s composed low shot takes a deflection on its way into the back of the net as Reading double their lead.

Swansea kept plugging away to ensure the game did not escape them, and they did managed to pull one back when Cullen helped the ball in at the far post after Joel Piroe’s flicked header hit the inside of the right-hand post.

That set up a tense finale, with Benda advancing to attack a corner in the dying stages and Ince taking aim when the set-piece was cleared with the goal unguarded. He could not get enough purchase on the shot, however, and late drama was avoided.

What the managers said…

Reading’s Paul Ince: “We made hard work of it in the end but that’s us, isn’t it?” That’s the way the lads are in this moment of time. We’re at a club that is not used to winning games consistently but I’m delighted that is now three wins out of four. But we just have to feel comfortable in winning games and feel comfortable when you’re in a winning position.

“It’s the manager’s worst nightmare. You’re trying to get the players up the park (to move forward) but they just don’t move. Eventually, after 15 minutes, you think that if they’re not going to move now, they’re never going to move. So it was a case of fingers crossed and, hopefully, we can come away with the result. We need to be a bit braver and move higher. I felt OK once we got the second goal but then we should have had focus, concentration and defending. But we were a bit poor on that front and let Swansea back in the game.”

Swansea’s Russell Martin: “We’ve had this same conversation too many times. We dominated every aspect of the game – shots and better chances. But again, today, we gave away a penalty from a set-piece because we didn’t want to fight properly. And then we gave away that second goal, that was just pathetic.

“Then it was attack versus defence for the rest of the game. We scored one but then we don’t do enough to score the second. Reading defended their box with a mentality that is horrible, that is a willingness to fight and that is aggression. They are great at it. They showed all that mentality in their box that we didn’t. And that’s our undoing at the minute, that’s why we are where we are.”

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Just when it looked as though Reading might see out this game, Swansea get back into it with a brilliant goal!

Player of the match – Tom Ince

What’s next?

Both teams are back in action at 7.45pm on Friday December 30. Reading travel to Carrow Road to take on Norwich, while Swansea host Watford at the Stadium.

Both matches are available to watch live on Sky Sports Football Red Button.

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