Despite playing in front of an unrestricted home crowd for the first time since March 2020, on Tuesday, last season’s seventh-placed finishers Reading suffered a second successive defeat when they were well beaten by Swansea City in the first round of the EFL Cup.
Perhaps to be expected, given Veljko Paunovic’s callow side had an average age of 19 – as most senior players were rested ahead of this weekend’s game – the Royals were soundly beaten by their Welsh counterparts after barely laying a glove on them.
The Swans had nearly three-quarters of the ball, plus 17 shots on goal compared to Reading’s six, as the home side played the final 20 minutes with only 10 men once Nelson Abbey was forced off with an injury after Paunovic had already made all three substitutions.
Even taking into account the much-changed nature of their midweek XI, in all, Reading have now conceded three times in four of their past five fixtures. Friendly defeats to West Ham and Crystal Palace came at the cost of six goals, before the first day of the new Championship season brought a 3-2 loss at Stoke.
Though they twice came from behind in a match where most of the goals came during three frantic first-half minutes, Stoke took the points when debutant Sam Surridge fired a powerful right-footed shot into the roof of the Royals’ net.
Now seeking to not only stem the tide of goals against, but also post their first point of the new season, Paunovic – who remains frustrated by a transfer embargo – will hope his team can fare better against a side they could not get the better of last term.
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Preston have fond memories of their last trip to Berkshire, as they came away from Reading 3-0 winners back in November of last year – one of few highlights in a testing season for the Lancastrian outfit.
Since current boss Frankie McAvoy rose from obscurity to be appointed head coach on a permanent basis – having won five of his eight matches in interim charge following countryman Alex Neil’s sacking – their fortunes have somewhat improved.
However, the Lilywhites suffered a shocking 4-1 home defeat to Hull City in their opening league game last weekend, before compensating in part by completing a 3-0 win over Mansfield in the cup – earning them a second round tie at Morecambe later this month