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Match Reports

Vitesse victorious despite Royals fight-back

Eredivisie club claim victory at Adams Park

29 July 2017

Despite a hearty retaliation by Reading, it was Dutch top-tier side Vitesse which took victory in the last of our pre-season friendlies.

The Royals trailed by three at one point - one for Bryan Linssen and a double for Tim Matavz - but they fought back bravely.

John Swift netted from the spot after young sub Sam Smith was taken down, and Adrian Popa smashed in from the right of the box... but the equaliser was evasive.

There were Reading debuts on English soil for a trio of summer arrivals – Pelle Clement, Jón Daði Böðvarsson and Vito Mannone were all included from the beginning.

Unfortunately Böðvarsson was one of two players to have to be withdrawn through injury – the Icelander took a knock just before half-time, while Joey van den Berg was subbed off midway through the first period.

Less than 60 seconds had passed before the game’s first opportunity arose – it happened to be that combo which combined.  The ball broke for Van den Berg in the centre, who immediately tried to thread in Böðvarsson – Guram Kashia was alert and slid in to concede a corner.

And then fellow new arrival Pelle Clement was involved as he drew a free-kick, which John Swift delivered – Tiago Ilori rose well but couldn’t beat the goalkeeper.

The first chance for Vitesse was the width of the woodwork away from breaking the deadlock.  Tim Matavz worked space to cross from the right, picking out the onrushing Milot Rashica at the far post… his volley was into the ground and bounced up and off the far post. 

However that opening goal came before the quarter-hour mark.  Navarone Foor raced onto a loose ball and immediately released Linssen through the middle – Mannone got down well to make an initial save, but the striker pounced quickly on the rebound.

Reading were dealt a further blow when Van den Berg had to be withdrawn midway through the first period; a late tackle by goalscorer Linssen left the Dutchman in a heap, and ultimately he needed to be replaced by Liam Kelly.

Vitesse had their second as the game ticked past half an hour.  Rashica crossed from the right for Matavz, whose first-time strike took a heavy deflection to wrong-foot Mannone and creep inside the near post.

In response, Böðvarsson and Liam Moore each went close – the former taking a touch to control before hitting over on his left foot, and the latter heading over from a Swift corner which had been won through Chris Gunter’s forward foray.

However Böðvarsson was caught with a late tackle shortly before half-time - he wasn't risked after the interval, as Sam Smith came on instead.  Jordan Obita was also withdrawn at the break for Omar Richards.

And Vitesse scored their third soon after half-time - a heavy touch by John Swift in his own half was seized upon quickly by Thulani Seroro, who picked out Matavz's run - the striker coolly converted his second.

But the Royals showed that they weren't going to go down with a whimper.  Clement could consider himself hard done-by when he appeared to be chopped down by Kashia after trying to round the goalkeeper, having latched onto Alexander Buttner's loose back-pass.

And Adrian Popa was first to a clipped ball down the wing by Clement - the Romanian drilled a half-volley which struck the underside of the bar, bounced down and out to safety to the Dutch side's relief.

Finally, just after the hour, Reading were amongst the goals - it came from 12 yards as some beautiful interplay between Clement and Swift saw sub Smith released in the area, and brought down for a penalty.  Swift stepped up - hammered in.

Kelly came close, forcing a low stop from the goalie, but then had a helping hand in Reading's second.  He received wide on the right and drilled goalwards from an impossible angle... it bounced clear off the post, but Popa was alive to the situation and shimmied past a defender before drilling in on his left.

Andy Rinomhota and Danny Loader were both introduced for more minutes late in the game, replacing Popa and Swift respectively.

With minutes ticking down, a bit of skill down the left by Loader opened things up but his cross for fellow Academy-bred forward Smith was just out of reach, as the equaliser evaded the Royals as pre-season preparation came to an end.

Full-time: Reading 2-3 Vitesse

Reading: Mannone, Gunter, Obita (Richards HT), Ilori, Moore, Van den Berg (Kelly 24), Evans, Swift (Loader 75), Clement, Popa (Rinomhota 75), Böðvarsson (Smith HT).
Unused sub: Jaakkola.

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