Reading 2 Preston North End 1 match report: Second Championship defeat on the bounce for PNE

Preston North End suffered their second successive Championship defeat as Reading got the better of them at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

Saturday, 14th August 2021, 5:14 pm
Updated Saturday, 14th August 2021, 5:18 pm

Femi Azeez gave the Royals the lead in a first half they had much the better of, North End's attacking play stodgy and lacking any sort of creativity.

However, they got back on level terms just beyond the hour when Daniel Johnson scored from the penalty spot after Alan Browne's shot had been handled by home defender Michael Morrison.

Reading regained the lead within eight minutes, the home side playing through PNE with John Swift's shot hitting both posts before crossing the line.

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Preston North End striker Emil Riis rides a tackle in the defeat to Reading

Whether or not they deserved something from the game, a late rally almost brought the visitors an equaliser.

Browne sent a header into the side-netting, then substitutes Brad Potts and Ben Whiteman were both denied by fine saves from goalkeeper Rafael during stoppage-time, Whiteman's effort a free-kick with the last kick of the game.

It's two defeats in two in the league for North End, not the start they envisaged.

PNE's side had shown four changes from the 3-0 win at Mansfield in the Carabao Cup in midweek.

PNE skipper Alan Browne challenges in the air with Reading's Josh Laurent

Liam Lindsay, Ryan Ledson, Browne and Emil Riis came into the side, Patrick Bauer, Whiteman, Potts and Sean Maguire dropping to the bench.

Skipper Browne partnered Ledson in the deeper midfield roles, Johnson playing as the No.10 behind strikers Riis and Sinclair.

In the first half PNE offered little attacking threat, with creativity lacking against a Reading side who kept their shape well behind the ball.

Their only real opening came in the 10th minute, Johnson's pass finding Sinclair to the right of goal.

Sinclair's shot was blocked by a defender and when the ball was recycled to Johnson, the midfielder shot wide.

There was a warning for PNE in the 18th minute when the home side broke down the right-wing and the ball was worked inside to Ethan Bristow eight yards out in front of goal.

Bristow pulled the trigger on a low shot which Sepp van den Berg threw himself in front of to block.

It was 10 minutes after that chance that Reading took the lead with an attack which came down the other side of the pitch.

Josh Laurent's low cross travelled across the six-yard box to evade PNE's central defenders, with keeper Daniel Iversen appearing to get fingertips on the ball as he dived to try and cut it out.

But it ran to Azeez at the far post who took a touch before knocking it into the empty net.

Azzez was close to a second goal in the 34th minute, the youngster chasing a ball forward and holding off the challenge of Jordan Storey before shooting inches wide.

PNE had a let-off two minutes into the second half, Lucas Joao getting free in the box and slamming a shot past Iversen but against the post.

A Reading counter-attack then caused more problems, Azeez shooting wide under pressure from Lindsay's challenge.

But suddenly North End were back in the game, equalising in the 61st minute.

The ball had been played into the box at a set piece and when it came Browne's way, his rising shot from close range was handled by Morrison.

Referee Joshua Smith pointed to the sport and booked the Reading centre-half.

Johnson did his normal patient routine, placing the ball on the spot and crouching down before stepping back to the edge of the box.

His penalty was well struck into the bottom right corner, keeper Rafael going the correct but beaten by it.

Parity lasted only eight minutes as Reading regained the lead in the 69th minute.

They countered well on North End, Swift exchanging passes with Laurent and Joao before sliding a low shot past Iversen which hit the inside of the post, rolled across goal and hit the other post before going in.

In the closing stages PNE got behind the Reading defence a couple of times and in the 87th minute they came to an equaliser.

Substitute Sean Maguire found room on the left side of the post to send over a cross to the far post where Browne could only direct a header into the side-netting.

Two minutes into stoppage-time, Potts got a shot away in the box which the keeper did superbly to turn behind.

Then with more than six minutes additional time played North End got one last chance when a high boot caught Browne in the face 25 yards out.

Whiteman took the free-kick, Rafael springing to his right to push the ball away. At that moment Mr Smith blew the final whistle, with no time to take the corner.

Reading: Rafael, Yiadom, Morrison, Moore, McIntyre, Rinomhota, Bristow, Swfit, Azzez, Laurent, Joao (Puscas 84). Subs (not used): Southwood, Holmes, Tetek, Leavy, Del-Bashiru, Clarke.

PNE: Iversen, Storey, Lindsay, Hughes, Van den Berg, Browne, Ledson (Whiteman 70), Cunningham (Maguire 81), Johnson, Sinclair, Riis (Potts 62). Subs (not used): Rudd, Bauer, Rafferty,, Rodwell-Grant.

Referee: Joshua Smith (Stamford)

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