QPR boss Mark Warburton has warned the quality of football in the EFL could suffer this season due to the relentless fixture schedule.The Championship, League One and League Two are already renowned for having some of the most congested calendars in football and the Covid-19 pandemic has only made them more packed.
Reading 3 Rotherham United 0 A cheesy picture of Ricky Gervais' character David Brent from The Office, accompanied by the quote: ‘Guilty, I support Reading,’ adorns the empty home end at the Madejski Stadium. Pride rather than guilt is no doubt the overriding emotion for Reading fans this season. Seven games in, they sit unbeaten, five points clear at the top of the Championship having sacked their manager Mark Bowen two weeks before the start of the season and replacing him with the little known Serbian Veljko Paunovic. “I’m very excited,” he said. “In our team, we are seeing the consistency of getting the job done. We’ve established our identity and everyone has the fire in their eyes.” It took until the 41st minute for either side to register a shot on or off target after a dire first half. But the first effort resulted in a goal as Yakou Meite was picked out at the far post by Ovie Ejaria and the Ivorian finished through the legs of Jamal Blackman. It was tough on Rotherham boss Paul Warne, returning from a period of isolation after a family member tested positive for Covid 19, whose side had dominated possession for long spells. “I thought we played really well, but we didn't create enough opportunities to score,” he said. Their best opening of the half came as Daniel Barlaser and Florian Jozefzoon combined to whip a ball across the six yard box which Reading keeper Cabral Barbosa scrambled to safety. Reading are not always a thrill a minute to watch. Their success has been in defence where they have only conceded one goal all season. The swirling wind and rain were not helping the spectacle and the same disjointed pattern continued after half time. Rotherham's George Hirst came off the bench and with his first touch saw Reading captain Liam Moore clear off the line. Freddie Ladapo then went close with his rising shot saved by Cabral as Warne's side again enjoyed more of the possession. But Meite sealed victory 11 minutes from time with an emphatic overhead kick following Michael Olise's corner, which had been won when Blackman tipped Tomas Esteves' long range effort onto the crossbar. Olise then struck the bar from a free-kick in stoppage time before Lucas Joao scored from the penalty spot with virtually the last kick of the game after he was felled by Michael Ihiekwe. Match details Reading (4-2-3-1): Cabral; Esteves, Moore, Morrison, Richards; Rinomhota, Laurent; Meite, Semedo (McIntyre 80), Ejaria (Olise 66); Puscas (Joao 66). Substitutes not used: Gibson, Southwood, Aluko, Tetek. Goals: Meite 41, 79, Joao 90+3 (pen) Rotherham United (4-1-4-1): Blackman; Harding (Ladapo 71), Ihiekwe, Wood, Mattock; MacDonald; Jozefzoon (Olosunde 64), Lindsay (Hirst 62), Barlaser, Wiles; Smith. Substitutes not used: Johansson, Jones, Sadlier, Crooks. Booked: Ihiekwe, Wood. Referee: Mr M Donohue
Reading 1 Wycombe Wanderers 0 A most productive evening for Reading. A serendipitous combination of Bristol City losing at home to Middlesbrough and Lucas Joao’s handsomely-taken strike which brought three points from the A404 derby took them to the Championship summit. They will deliver more fluid performances and will meet less doughty opponents than Wycombe Wanderers, but of such meat’n’potatoes victories are Premier League berths secured. “My players are warriors and lions,” said Veljko Paunovic, the Reading manager. “But Wycombe, very, very motivated, surprised us with their organisation and discipline. Sometimes you have to win ugly.” Everything is new this season for Wycombe. On the one hand they are playing Championship football. On the other, they have never opened a season with six defeats. “In Divisions 1 and 2, you can get by on spirit, togetherness and graft,” noted Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth. “You need quality in the Championship and key moments cost us. That said, tonight the neutral wouldn’t have known who was top and who was bottom. I’m convinced we have a squad good enough to stay in this league.” In contrast, Reading are beginning to work up a head of steam. They were, however, unfathomably lacklustre for the first hour. Wycombe snapped at their heels and Everton loanee Dennis Adeniran was a swan in a parade of headless chickens. And when, in first-half added time, Reading did finally craft a pottable chance, Yakou Meite headed Ovie Ejaria’s delicious cross wide from inside the six-yard box. Before the hour was up, Paunovic had seen enough and he chanced the double substitution which changed the game. “We needed fresh blood and fresh legs,” he said. With new personnel came new impetus and soon Reading were ahead. Liam Moore hoofed a long ball forwards, Joao swivelled expertly around Josh Knight and insouciantly fired his third league goal of the season past Ryan Allsop. Wycombe almost found salvation in added time when Fred Onyedinma brought a flying save from Rafael as Reading momentarily wobbled. It wasn’t to be and for all Ainsworth’s optimism, it is already beginning to look like a season where it will never be. Match details Reading (4-2-3-1): Rafael 5; Holmes 6 (Esteves, 58, 7), Richards 6, Moore 6, Morrison 6 ; Rinomhota 7, Laurent 6; Ejaria 7, Olisa 6 (McIntyre, 89, 6) Meite 5 (Semedo, 58, 7); Joao 7 Subs: Southwood (gk), Gibson, Aluko, Puscas. Booked: Joao, Rinomhota Wycombe Wanderers (4-3-3): Allsop 6; Grimmer 6, Knight 6 Jacobson 6 Stewart 7; Adeniran 7, Bloomfield 6 (Mehmeti, 79, 5) Thompson 6; Horgan 6; Samuel 5 (Akinfenwa, 68 5), Kashket 6 (Onyedinma, 64, 5) Subs: Stockdale (gk), Wheeler, Charles, Freeman Referee: Andy Davies (Hampshire)
Championship beat Premier League, under-strength Brentford beat full-strength Southampton; this was an evening to forget for Ralph Hasenhuttl. “It’s simply not enough. It’s simply not the team that we have been at the end of last season,” said the Austrian. “At the moment, with this form we have it will not be easy to win games. We are not good enough in any part. We are not fit enough.” Brentford were excellent, full value for their victory, secured with two late goals in the first half. They were only able to name five subs after a positive test for Covid-19 amongst the B team forced a part of the squad into isolation. “It was a strong performance against a full-strength Southampton team, more or less,” said manager Thomas Frank. “I would like to praise my players’ off the ball performance. I like the tactical flexibility we showed tonight. We played much longer, much more behind them that we would normally do and that worked.” Hasenhuttl made only one change from the opening day defeat at Palace, keen to sharpen up his first choice eleven ahead of Sunday’s visit of Tottenham. Danny Ings went close to opening the scoring as he agonizingly slid the ball wide from Ryan Bertrand’s superb first time cross. Southampton adopted Hasenhuttl’s preferred high press but Brentford bypassed it when Josh Dasilva found Bryan Mbeumo in space and McCarthy was forced into an excellent save at the near post to deny him. Saints began to get a foothold towards the end of the half and a swift move involving Bertrand and Nathan Redmond created an opening for Che Adams but Bees keeper Luke Daniels got a crucial touch to divert his low shot against the post. But the Championship side led after Christian Norgaard headed in Mbeumo's corner with little sign of any Southampton marking. Brentford were two up at the break after an excellent break saw Shandon Baptiste tee up Dasilva who finished superbly from the edge of the box. Saints toiled and Jack Stephens went close with a header from Bertrand’s corner. Just as at Selhurst Park on the opening day, the inability to create chances will be a huge concern to a team so dangerous after the restart last season. Match details Southampton (4-2-2-2): McCarthy 5; Walker-Peters 6, Stephens 6, Bednarek 5, Bertrand 6; Ward-Prowse 6, Romeu 5; Tella 5 (Obafemi 84), Redmond 5 (Djenepo 71); Adams 6 (Long 84), Ings 6. Subs: Forster, Vestergaard, Smallbone, Vokins. Booked: McCarthy Brentford (4-2-3-1): Daniels 6; Dalsgaard 7, Sorensen 7, Goode 7, Thompson 7 (Henry 71); Norgaard 7, Baptiste 8; Mbeumo 7, Dasilva 8 (Marcondes 71), Fosu-Henry 7; Forss 7 (Dervisoglu 77). Subs: Henry, Pinnock, Marcondes, Zamburek. Booked: Thompson, Dalsgaard, Goode Referee: Mr J Brooks (Leicestershire)