Ahead of tomorrow afternoon’s match versus Reading at Sincil Bank in League One, which will be refereed by Robert Madley, we have done a Q&A with one of their supporters. Thank you to Simeon from The Tilehurst End for answering the questions!
NEW QUIZ: How much can you remember/do you know from the last time Lincoln City hosted Reading? Have a go at the quiz at the bottom of the page or simply CLICK HERE (opens in a new window)!
How long have you supported Reading?
Since 2004. My first game was a 2-0 home defeat to Sunderland – getting off on a low note set the tone for the last few years of being a Reading fan.
What were and now are your hopes and expectations for the 2023/24 season?
Before the start of the season, I was hoping for a promotion challenge, which feels like a long time ago! Back when everything seemed relatively rosy behind the scenes, it felt like an achievable goal for Reading to rebuild the team with an extensive, quality overhaul and push for one of the top spots in the division.
However, behind-the-scenes chaos – a series of transfer embargoes and a drawn-out process to get a manager in over the summer, before an ongoing ownership saga throughout the season itself and points deductions – means I’d now be very happy to see Reading stay up. If we can achieve that, a good takeover and a run deep into the Papa John’s Trophy (we set a record for goals scored in the group stage before beating Charlton Athletic on penalties), I’ll be very happy.
What are your views on your manager?
Conflicted. Like many of his players, Ruben Selles is talented in theory but right now lacks experience. He came in as a very idealistic manager, wanting to play a particular brand of pressing football in a 4-2-2-2, that didn’t work with this squad. It’s been a harsh learning curve for him in this, his second managerial job, and he probably should have switched formation sooner than he did (we’ve looked distinctly better since going 4-1-4-1 in late October).
It’s hard fully judging him as a manager when so much of this rests on the squad he’s working with – a young, inexperienced one that’d be a challenge for any manager. Regardless, his league away record’s still been appalling and Reading have been dreadful on set-pieces at both ends of the pitch.
On the flipside, while underlying xG data hardly overrides the league table, it does suggest we’re a better side than the rankings suggest: top six for chances created, lower midtable for chances conceded. Selles has coached a decent team, although it typically can’t get the results to match.
Style of play and tactics – direct/passing/hybrid?
In possession, Reading are pretty varied – ideally Selles wants his players to get the ball forward pretty quickly and you’ll often see passes being played long for someone to get in behind. However, we do also knock it about a decent amount too (we’re mid-table for possession).
Out of possession Reading generally try to win the ball back aggressively: going by pressing intensity, measured by the PPDA stat (passes per defensive action), we’re one of the top teams in the league. That can be dependent on game state though – for example, on Tuesday night we pressed much more intensively in the first half before dropping off substantially in the second.
One(s) to watch now and in the future?
Nelson Abbey’s been our standout performer this season. He’s a young, really well-rounded centre-half, excellent technically and in one-on-ones. He was rightly called up for England’s youth side a couple of months ago and he’ll surely go on to have more appearances and have a league career at the top of the Championship at the very least.
Otherwise, Reading have a number of talented youngsters who’ve shown ability for the future but without really having the consistency right now. Look out for Charlie Savage, who came in from Manchester United; Ben Elliott from Chelsea; Real Madrid-linked Caylan Vickers and Tyler Bindon, a talented centre-half we signed from Los Angeles FC.
Random fact about your Club?
Reading were named ‘the finest foreign team seen in Italy’ on a tour of the country in 1913 – back in our pre-Football League era. That run of games included Reading beating both AC Milan and the Italian national side. How times have changed…
Which were your favourite and least favourite matches involving Reading?
My favourite game would be the 3-0 win over Bradford in the FA Cup quarter-final back in 2015. While it was a pretty straightforward, easy win, it put us through to a first semi-final in that competition since 1927, and there was quite the carnival atmosphere in the Mad Stad that night.
As for least favourite, there are plenty of candidates from the last couple of years, but the one that really outdid all others was another in the FA Cup. In this case, a 2-1 defeat at Kidderminster Harriers. Not only was it an awful result and dreadful performance, but the sheer toxicity that came out of that match – and the club’s resulting bizarre failure to sack the manager – put Reading into an existential crisis. The only saving grace is that it wasn’t televised.
Which sides do you think will finish in the top six and bottom four?
Top six: Portsmouth, Bolton Wanderers, Stevenage, Peterborough United, Barnsley, Blackpool
Bottom four: Cheltenham Town, Fleetwood, Exeter City, Burton Albion.
What are your thoughts on Lincoln City?
I really admire Lincoln City for the way they’ve built up through the divisions in recent years. It wasn’t all that long ago they were in non-league, so pushing from there into League Two, and then quickly into League One, before establishing themselves in the third tier, is impressive.
If you could steal one Lincoln player for your team, who would it be and why?
While we don’t really need a centre-forward, I like seeing a former Royal do well, so I’d go for Ben House. He came through our academy and made one brief substitute appearance in the FA Cup before dropping into non-league, so I’m glad he’s got back into League One.
What is your prediction for this match?
I’d love to be able to predict a Reading win, but we’ve simply not been good enough on the road this season, losing all but one of our matches. 2-0 Lincoln City.
— Vital Lincoln City (@VitalLincoln) December 15, 2023