Each season brings with it a new wave of optimism and excitement… nothing quite sums up the anticipation like that long-awaited opening-day match!
We’ll learn where we’ll be and who we’ll face on the opening weekend this Wednesday – the 2017/18 league fixtures are released at 9am sharp on readingfc.co.uk.
We’ve had mixed fortunes over the past five years on the opening day… three of which have seen drama in stoppage time! Below is a summary of how we have fared…
Saturday 6th August 2016
Reading 1-0 Preston North End
A lively game at Madejski Stadium last time out – Jaap Stam’s first in charge of the Royals – set the tone for a successful campaign. In a match where we had 71% of the possession, it was debutant John Swift who grabbed the game’s only goal striking high into the net from Garath McCleary’s low corner just after the half-hour mark.
Jermaine Beckford had had a goal disallowed earlier because of Joe Garner’s hand-ball in the build-up, and Deniss Rakels had a golden chance saved low by Anders Lindegaard. His opposing stopper Ali Al-Habsi was rarely tested, though he was able to keep out Daniel Johnson’s rifled effort after the break as the Jaap Stam era started with a win!
Saturday 8th August 2015
Birmingham City 2-1 Reading
The opening day of the previous season had a bit of everything at St Andrew’s – with the exception of any reward for the Royals from their trip to the Midlands. Goals just before and just after the break by David Cotterill and Jon Toral had the Blues in the ascendency, but Nick Blackman cut the lead down to one before the hour with a glancing header.
It was a referee’s decision that denied Reading an equaliser – goal-line technology is coming in this season, but two years ago it denied Aaron Tshibola a deserved leveller as his effort struck the underside of the bar and bounced over the line, only for the assistant to miss it. And then Orlando Sa saw a spot-kick saved eight minutes into added time… an entertaining game but the wrong result.
Saturday 9th August 2014
Wigan Athletic 2-2 Reading
The previous season also had stoppage-time drama which went against Reading on the opening day – this time to deny us all three points up in Lancashire, as Wigan stole level at the last to earn a point. The Latics had initially lead through Callum McManaman seized upon a loose ball to open the scores.
Shaun Cummings’ first ever career goal got us square, and after Nick Blackman struck the woodwork, Sean Morrison headed Reading ahead. But the travelling fans were left disappointed that a dominant display in the second period only earned one point, as James McArthur latched onto a long ball to turn in from close range and give the hosts a share of the points in the third added minute.
Saturday 3rd August 2013
Reading 2-1 Ipswich Town
The Royals turned a deficit into a win on the opening day of 2013/14… and it was a bit of quality that won it. Of course, it had to be Jay Tabb who opened the score for Ipswich… he hadn’t found the net once in his 105 games for the Royals, but on his debut for the Tractor Boys after leaving Madejski Stadium that summer, he scrambled in the opener!
But Adam Le Fondre’s poached goal a minute before the interval ensured that the two managers would need to rethink their teamtalks… and in the final 15 minutes, Danny Guthrie powered in an unstoppable shot past Scott Loach from 25 yards – which proved to be the match-winner.
Saturday 18th August 2012
Reading 1-1 Stoke City
Our most recent Premier League opener was a topsy-turvy one – ultimately ending all square against the Potters. Their first-half goal was not one to behold from a Royals perspective – Michael Kightly’s strike wasn’t hit cleanly, but it squirmed through the grasp of Adam Federici to hand the visitors the lead.
But Reading withstood further pressure and then piled forward in search of the equaliser in the final 10 minutes – and got their reward. Dean Whitehead fouled Garath McCleary in the box – picking up a second yellow card in the process – and Adam Le Fondre beat Asmir Begovic from 12 yards to earn a draw. Ian Harte was a whisker away from handing the Royals an unlikely win with a stoppage-time free-kick… it flew narrowly over.