The Sky Blues fell to a disappointing 3-0 defeat against Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
Lucas Joao gave the Royals the lead but faced a spirited City performance in the first-half. However, Andy Rinomhota doubled the home side’s advantage immediately after the restart; and John Swift ensured Reading’s victory with an impressive free-kick, following a red card for Kyle McFadzean.
Mark Robins made four changes to the side that faced Norwich in the FA Cup, with Matty James and Viktor Gyokores making their first City starts, as the Sky Blues returned to league action for only the second time in 2021.
Callum O’Hare almost made it a dream start for the travelling City side, jumping on to a loose pass across the box, only to be denied by the alert Rafael Cabral in the Reading goal, inside just 3 minutes.
The Sky Blues were left agonising, ten minutes, later as Leo Ostigard couldn’t quite capitalise from a well-worked corner routine. Matty James played the ball short to Sam McCallum, whose pinpoint, curling delivery found the centre-back free in the centre of the goal but he directed his glancing header narrowly wide of the post.
City were made to rue not taking their earlier opportunities just moments after Ostigard’s miss, as Lucas Joao scored form close range. John Swift played a lofted ball over the defence for the Portuguese striker to latch on to and fire the ball past Ben Wilson.
Despite some promising build-up play from the Sky Blues–channelled through crosses from Dabo and McCallum–it was Ovie Ejaria who came closest to finding the game’s next goal. A solo run saw the Reading wide forward dart past his marker, finding space in the box, before side-footing the ball back off the near post.
Mark Robins’ side dominated the game’s tempo and created several exciting scenarios that fell just short of being converted into clear-cut chances, in an encouraging first 45 minutes for the away team.
However, as the first-half drew to a close, Joao was given a chance to double his goal tally. A low ball across the six-yard box found the striker free at the back post but he could only direct the ball wide.
HALF-TIME: READING 1-0 SKY BLUES
The whistle had barely finished sounding for the start of the second-half when Andy Rinomhota doubled the home side’s advantage. A low cross from Joao on the right-hand side found the midfielder 25 yards out, who struck the ball into the far corner.
Handed a momentous challenge straight after the break, City’s heads refused to drop–Ostigard, again, rose highest to send a Matty James corner whistling over the crossbar. Moments later, the centre-half proved he was a man on a mission at the Madejski, meeting Gus Hamer’s free-kick at the back post to force a sharp reaction save from the Reading ‘keeper.
As the Sky Blues pushed forward in search of a goal with 20 minutes remaining, the team received a combination of body blows. Kyle McFadzean was handed a second booking for fouling Ejaria, 25 yards out, during a quick counter-attack. From the resulting free-kick, John Swift curled in a stunning goal, over the wall and into the top corner.
The evening almost got even worse for City as substitute striker Sam Baldock went through on goal but could only send his shot wide of the near post after being closed down by Ben Wilson.
Second-half substitute Max Biamou came closest to grabbing a consolation goal for City in the 90th minute, meeting the ball from a free-kick, but his header could only succeed in coming off the post.
FULL-TIME: READING 3-0 SKY BLUES
Goals: Lucas Joao (16’), Andy Rinomhota (46’), John Swift (73’)
Yellows: Tom Holmes, Kyle McFadzean, Leo Ostigard, Lucas Joao
Reds: Kyle McFadzean
Reading XI: Rafael Cabral (GK), Omar Richards, Thomas Holmes (Tomas Esteves, 45’), Tom McIntyre, Michael Morrison (C), Josh Laurent, Andy Rinomhota (Sam Baldock, 78’), John Swift (Alfa Semedo, 73’), Michael Olise (Sone Aluko, 65’), Ovie Ejaria (Dejan Tetek, 78’), Lucas Joao
Subs Not Used: Luke Southwood, Ryan East, Jayden Onen, Mamadi Camara.
Sky Blues Xl: Ben Wilson (GK), Fankaty Dabo (Julien Dacosta, 79'), Leo Ostigard (Jordon Thompson, 87'), Kyle McFadzean (C), Dom Hyam, Sam McCallum, Matty James (Ben Sheaf, 79'), Jordan Shipley (Will Bapaga, 87'), Gustavo Hamer, Callum O'Hare, Viktor Gyokeres (Max Biamou, 59').
Subs: Lee Camp (GK), Jamie Allen, Gervane Kastaneer, Amadou Bakayoko.