Sky Bet Championship
Saturday August 30 2014
Middlesbrough v Reading
THIS is the 25th league meeting of Boro and Reading. A draw is the most frequent outcome with nine of the last 24 ending all square. Boro have won eight and Reading seven.
This fixture produced the fastest ever goal at the Riverside with Barry Robson scoring after 24 seconds on September 18 2010.
There have, however, only been six first-half goals in this fixture - two or those were scored last season – and none until 2007 after 80 years of waiting, and three of them came in the same match.
Reading are 19th in the table, but at this stage of the season it is so tight that a win could take them as high as seventh.
This will be their third away game in a mixed week, losing 4-0 at Nottingham Forest but winning 1-0 in the Capital One Cup at Scunthorpe on Tuesday.
Last season, after being relegated from the Premier League, they finished seventh with 71 points, five places and seven points ahead of Boro, and were the fourth-highest scorers in the Championship. They won 11 away games, second only to the champions Leicester.
But inconsistency cost them - their best run of the season was six games unbeaten in September and October. They were in the top six for most of the season, including going into the final game, but failed to make the play-offs by a point.
Since losing at the Riverside in December they have won seven of their 13 away games, but have only kept three clean sheets. They were only denied a win at Wigan on the opening day by an injury-time equaliser, but took 85 minutes to score at Scunthorpe.
Their eight league and cup goals have come from seven different players. Last season's top scorer Adam le Fondre was sold to Cardiff, this season only Jake Taylor has two.
Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy made the most saves in the Championship last season, 175.
Reading's squad comes from 13 countries, with just one on loan, Jamie Mackie from Nottingham Forest, who scored the only goal on his first trip to the Riverside with Plymouth in 2009. He has yet to score this season.
Oliver Norwood spent the last two seasons as one half of Huddersfield's central midfield with Adam Clayton.
Having been in charge for three years and three months, Brian McDermott was sacked on March 11 2013 as Reading struggled in the Premier League. Nigel Adkins was the man brought in as McDermott’s replacement. Adkins had previously guided Southampton to two straight promotions, as they finished second in League One in 2010/11 and second in the Championship a season later.
Nigel Adkins has lost all his three games at the Riverside. His Scunthorpe side went down 3-0 on Boxing Day 2009 with both sides finishing with 10 men. Southampton lost 2-1 in April 2012 after taking a first-minute lead, but were promoted in their final match a week later and Reading lost 3-0 in this fixture last season.
Boro have fielded an unchanged side once in 85 games in over two years.
Middlesbrough have won ten of their last 14 games in all competitions and scored in 12 of them, but have only kept five clean sheets.
The departure on Thursday of Kei Kamara means that 15 players who have played for Boro in the Championship have left since the end of last season.
Boro have two wins and two defeats from their opening four games, having won one and lost once on the road, while winning and losing one each at the Riverside.
Boro have conceded six goals this season, the last five of which have all been from a set piece. Seven of the last nine goals against them have now come from set pieces. Four of their six league goals this season have come from set pieces, three of them penalties. After going eight months without a penalty, Middlesbrough have now had three in their last two league games. Reading had been the last side to concede one against Boro, in December 2013.
Reading drew 2-2 at Wigan Athletic on the opening day, and beat Ipswich 1-0 at home a week later. A 2-1 home defeat to Huddersfield followed, before a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Nottingham Forest last Saturday.
They have, however, won both of their Capital One Cup ties, 3-1 at home to Newport County and 1-0 at Scunthorpe on Tuesday night.
Reading won 11 games away from the Madejski last season, the second highest number in the Championship.
Comparatively, Boro lost just four times at the Riverside, with only the three sides that were promoted to the Premier League having lost fewer (two).
Us v Them
Boro have won just two of the last six meetings between the two sides.
Middlesbrough have won five of their 11 home games against Reading; they have kept two clean sheets in the Royals’ last eight visits.
Reading were the last team ever to keep a clean sheet at Ayresome Park, when they won 1-0 in February 1995.
Reading have had a man sent off in two of their last three games at the Riverside.
Middlesbrough were promoted in each of the first six seasons they two teams met, and in eight of the 12 seasons they have spent together they have ended up in different divisions.
This fixture has only ended goalless twice, and not since 1987. The other was the only previous time the teams have met in the final game of the year, in 1928.
Last six meetings at the Riverside
2013/14 – Championship
29-12-2013: Boro 3-0 Reading
2011/12 – Championship
25-02-2012: Boro 0-2 Reading
2010/11 – Championship
18-09-2010: Boro 3-1 Reading
2009/10 – Championship
20-03-2010: Boro 1-1 Reading
2007/08 – Premier League
01-03-2008: Boro 0-1 Reading
2006/07 – Premier League
24-02-2007: Boro 2-1 Reading
Five years ago - the first defeat and the first goals against as Boro go down 2-1 at Bristol City.
10 years ago - Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink makes it three goals in four games in a 2-0 home win over Crystal Palace, taking Boro to fifth.
20 years ago - Clayton Blackmore's first Boro goal is enough to take the points at Derby; four games, four wins, no goals against - and top.
25 years ago - Bernie Slaven scores twice in a second Ayresome goalfest in the first two games, this time 3-3 with Sheffield United.
30 years ago - Willie Maddren's first home game ends in disaster, beaten 5-1 by Grimsby, as Geoff Scott starts a very short Boro career.
40 years ago - Graeme Souness scores his first Division One goal in a 1-1 draw at Stoke.
55 years ago - Alan Peacock scores four in a 7-1 win at Derby, in what remains Boro's joint biggest away win.
60 years ago - after leading at half-time Typical Boro then let in six at Ipswich, the second in a run of eight successive defeats, 6-1.
75 years ago - after leading at half-time Typical Boro then let in four at Liverpool to lose 4-1; three days later they're 2-0 up at Stoke and draw 2-2; then Hitler gives them six years to sort out the defence.
90 years ago - the first Second Division match in 22 years at Ayresome Park and a 2-0 win over Barnsley (Elliott, Williams).
95 years ago - football resumes after WW1 with a Walter Tinsley goal in a 1-0 win at Sheffield Wednesday, with, not surprisingly, four Boro debutants.
100 years ago - football resumes despite the war (they thought it'd be over by Christmas, only Boro's season was), again at Wednesday, but this time Boro lose 3-1.
105 years ago - 20 year-old George Elliott makes his debut in a 2-0 home defeat by Sheffield United.
115 years ago - history is made with Boro's first game in the Football League. Well, Typical Boro's, as they set the standard with a 3-0 defeat at Lincoln.
Last time out
April 22 2014
Reading 2 Middlesbrough 0
Two first half goals were enough to take Reading in to a play-off spot and end Boro’s lingering hopes.
Scorers Le Fondre, 9; Friend, og 14.
Reading: McCarthy; Gunter, Pearce, Morrison, Guthrie (Akpan 50), McAnuff (Capt.), McCleary, Robson-Kanu (Pogrebnyak 29), Williams, Obita, Le Fondre. Subs: Federici (gk); Leigertwood, Drenthe, Cummings, Hector.
Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos; Varga, Gibson, Omeruo, Friend, Ledesma (Tomlin 64), Chalobah (Leadbitter 46), Whitehead (Capt.), Adomah, L Williams, Graham. Subs: Steele (gk); Ayala, Woodgate, Butterfield, Main.
Referee James Adcock
Reading McAnuff, 67, foul.
Middlesbrough Whitehead, 33, foul; Varga, 41, foul; Friend, 71, foul; Tomlin, 87, dissent.
Attendance 17,228 (659 Boro)
Conditions Dry, mild and still
Possession: Reading 53% Middlesbrough 47%
Website Boro Man of the Match: Dimitrios Konstantopoulos
In what is just his third season in the Football League, Mr Bond will take charge of his seventh game of the season. It is his first in the Championship this campaign and only the ninth of his career.
His six games this season have rendered a total of 10 yellow cards.
In 30 games last season, he issued a total of 103 yellow cards and five red.
Mr Bond was last in charge of a Boro game on 19 April this year, as Millwall won 2-1 at the Riverside. This will be his first game involving Reading.
Tickets and Travel
A warm, dry, sunny afternoon is forecast with the temperature reaching 19 degrees in a 17mph westerly wind.
Compiled by Gordon Cox, Sam Loughran and Ken Daly.