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21 April 2021 Venue Kenilworth Road Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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🔜 Ahead of the game | Royals Kenilworth Road bound for Hatters clash

Four games to go, with a fourth meeting of the season with Luton Town on the hori

21 April 2021

42 games down, four to go. Our latest test comes at the hands of Luton Town, as we prepare to make the short trip face the Hatters at Kenilworth Road on Wednesday evening (7:45pm KO).

Luton are becoming familiar faces, a team we'll have faced on four occasions this season, having drawn them in both cup competitions earlier in our respective campaigns - and the mid-table Bedfordshire side will be no pushovers after they toppled promotion hopefuls Watford at the weekend.

A vital victory for the Royals could put us back within one point of the top six, providing results elsewhere go our way. Veljko Paunovic will be hoping for a repeat of the reverse fixture, when his side saw off the Hatters at the Madejski on Boxing Day.

How to watch

Wednesday's meeting with the Hatters is available for supporters to watch via iFollow.

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Royals supporters can grab their Match Pass to watch proceedings unfold, by clicking here ahead of our 7:45pm kick-off.

The opposition

Now in his second spell as manager at Kenilworth Road, Nathan Jones has been back with the Hatters for almost a year. The 47-year-old who was previously in charge of Stoke City, has since turned Luton from a relegation-threatened outfit at the tail end of last season, to a team looking to push into the top-half with a handful of games remaining.

His side come in to their visit from the Royals on the back of successive wins and they'll be hoping to end their campaign on a high despite playing for little more than their finishing position, which could still be as high as 7th.

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Last time out, the Hatters enjoyed some derby day delight as they overcame automatic-promotion contenders and local rivals Watford in a 1-0 win that came courtesy of a late James Collins penalty, who converted from the spot with his first touch off the bench.

One to watch: James Collins

Hatters favourite Collins has again hit double figures in his second season in the Championship, and currently has 12 goals to his name in all competitions. He was again the hero for Luton at the weekend, as having been introduced from the bench, he slotted home the winning penalty to seal victory over Watford.

Republic of Ireland international Collins began his career in the youth academy of Aston Villa, but failed to make a senior appearance for the Villans. Since departing Villa Park in 2011, the now 30-year-old forward has proved his eye for goal with clubs across the Football League.

The striker scored 10+ goals in one or more seasons for Shrewsbury Town, Swindon Town and Crawley Town, his performances at the latter earning him a move to Kenilworth Road. 

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Collins has netted 70 goals in just shy of 200 appearances for Luton since signing with them in 2017, and this season he has inspired his team to victories over Barnsley, Rotherham, Norwich and Preston with his crucial finishes.

The front man, who had to wait until he was 28 to be awarded his international debut, won the League One title with  Luton, and his 25 goals that year helped them to reach the second tier for the first time in 12 years.

Pre-match chat

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Head-to-head

The Royals have won three of their last five meetings with Luton, and will be hoping to complete a league double over them on Wednesday night, to back up a 2-1 win over them on Boxing Day. Alfa Semedo and Academy graduate Tom McIntyre scored their first Reading goals to put the Hatters to the sword four months ago.

That said, we have been defeated by Luton twice this season, with the Bedfordshire outfit knocking us out of the League Cup back in September, and getting the better of a young Royals eleven from the FA Cup in January.

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Our most recent triumph at the home of the Hatters came in July 2020, as the Royals recorded their biggest ever victory over Luton, a thumping 5-0 win that yielded just the four goals for Yakou Meite.

Reading have won 26 and drawn eight of a total 56 clashes between the teams, dating back to our first meeting back in February 1921.

Ref watch

Michael Salisbury will be the man bearing the whistle in Bedfordshire during the week, for what will be his first Reading game of the season.

Salisbury last took charge of a Royals fixture in June 2020, when he officiated our 1-1 draw at home to Stoke City at the back end of the 2019-20 campaign. 

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Ian Cooper and Lee Venamore will be there alongside Salisbury in Luton on Wednesday, while Tim Robinson will be the fourth official on this occasion.

During his 22 league games to date, Salisbury has issued 49 yellow cards and one red cards.

Reminder

A polite reminder to our supporters that no unauthorised access will be permitted to this game, so supporters must not travel to Kenilworth Road.

We can’t wait to see you all again soon – but for now it’s important that when we play, please stay away.

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Match Reports

📰 Match report | Stalemate at Kenilworth Road

A frantic finish from a Royals side desperate for victory wasn't enough at Luton

21 April 2021

Reading threw everything at their opponents in a frantic end to a scrappy affair at Kenilworth Road, but there was no way through the Hatters' defence. Another point to show for their efforts, but will it be enough to keep up the fight for a top six spot...

The hosts began sharply and created an early half chance - a low cross from the right was met by the swinging boot of Adebayo but his shot was charged down by a hooped shirt before Rafael could be troubled.

Adebayo caused more problems when he took aim from outside the box. The shot deflected off Moore and skipped up but Rafael jumped and clung onto the ball well to deny the Hatters striker an opener.

An up and under cross from Puscas saw Meite compete for an aerial ball with Naismith inside the box and Yiadom won a corner as the ball bobbled loose. But Luton cleared their lines from Olise's set piece.

A quarter of an hour gone and Andy Rinomhota put Reading on the attack with a header forward from Simon Sluga's long goal kick - Puscas and Ejaria harried the defenders and Ejaria won the ball from Pearson on the left side of the box. He played an early cut back into Puscas but in controlling it the ball hit the Romanian's arm so as he pulled the trigger, the referee awarded Luton a free kick.

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The home side were playing at a high tempo though and dispossessing the Royals on the left, Naismith powered forward from half way and delivered a good cross to pick out Clark arriving in the middle. His cushioned volley flew just wide of the top right corner though to the visitors' relief.

Rafael had to punch clear a LuaLua cross from the left, then Laurent threatened at the other end, beating his man down the left and delivering a cross that saw Naismith hold off Yiadom at the back post and see off the danger.

Reading had enjoyed a good spell as the half hour mark ticked past, but Rafael needed to be alert to save a powerful Dewsbury-Hall effort that was flying towards the Reading goal from 22 yards out.

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Andy Yiadom was booked for tangling with LuaLua, who won his side a free kick near the byline. And James Bree went for goal from seemingly an impossible angle, sweeping a set piece just over the crossbar. And the Royals were lucky again when Rafael failed to collect a bobbling low cross, the ball dribbling to the feet of Holmes who hacked it out for a throw.

Sluga picked up a punt forward from Moore on the very edge of his box - appeals for him handling outside his box were waved away. Before half-time, Meite won a free kick in a dangerous position, but Moore stepped up and the wall did its job, twice - repelling the set piece and Moore's follow up volley.

Three minutes of injury time were signalled and Puscas had a great chance to make it 1-0. A cleared corner was volleyed back towards a crowded Luton box and a deflection took the ball high into the air. It dropped for Puscas who directed a header wide from 10 yards out - a difficult header to control but an opportunity missed.

Half-time: Luton Town 0-0 Reading


The second half began painfully for the captain Liam Moore who hurt his shoulder when he was seemingly pulled back by a Luton forward down the Hatters' right. He received treatment and bravely carried on.

Laurent looked to find Meite's run into the box but he overhit his pass, then Richards scuttled into the area and won a corner as the game began to open up just before the hour mark. 

Luton were looking to take advantage of Reading's new endeavour and on the break Liam Moore did well to see Adebayo onto his right foot and the Hatters striker drilled his shot wide of the right post.

Adebayo was causing the Royals problems again soon after, muscling Holmes off the ball on the left wing and sending a low cross flashing across the box which no Luton leg could turn home.

Good footwork from Ejaria saw him earn an opportunity to shoot, but a wall of orange blocked it. Moments later, Luton bodies charged down a Meite effort as he pivoted just inside the Hatters box.

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Reading needed a goal and Rinomhota did well to get the ball into the box to Meite who turned his man but just couldn't get the ball out from under his feet to shoot, surrounded by Luton defenders. And Town nearly capitalised on the counter attack, Cornick racing into acres of space down the right but unable to find Adebayo with a crossfield ball.

Reading threw everything at it, making a triple substitution with 12 minutes left - Aluko, Baldock and Semedo coming on for Richards, Ejaria and Olise. But they needed Rafael to deny Mpanzu a winner with 8 minutes remaining.

Swift found Baldock down the left and he won a corner with only five minutes remaining. Half appeals for a handball in Luton's clearance fell on deaf ears and time was running out for the Royals.

A quick free kick from the away team set Baldock away down the left. His low cross bounced through to Meite but he couldn't get the ball under control and stab it at goal at the near post. Moments later Gibson took a speculative shot that skidded wide. 

Four minutes of injury time were signalled and Aluko won a free kick. Swift struck it well and Sluga nearlty spilled it, but he gathered it into his body at the second attempt. 

For all the effort, Reading couldn't find a reward. And the referee blew his whistle to declare a stalemate. Goalless and a point. But will it be enough?

Full-time: Luton Town 0-0 Reading

Luton Town: Sluga, Bradley (c), Pearson, Tunnicliffe (Rea 73), Mpanzu, Clark (Cornick 64), Dewsbury-Hall, Naismith, Lualua (Moncur 64), Bree, Adebayo (Collins 84).
Unused subs: Shea, Cranie, Potts, Nombe, Morrell.
Yellow: Bradley, Collins.

Reading: Rafael, Yiadom, Richards (Aluko 78), Moore (c) (Gibson 83), Holmes, Rinomhota, Laurent, Ejaria (Semedo 78), Olise (Baldock 78), Meite, Puscas (Swift 72).
Unused subs: Southwood, Esteves, Gibson, Tetek, Semedo, Aluko, Onen, Baldock.
Yellow: Yiadom

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