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Match Reports

Pre-season | Eastleigh 2-1 Royals

A late winner seals victory for the hosts...

30 June 2018

Reading's first pre-season fixture ended in a 2-1 defeat to hosts Eastleigh on a scorching day in Hampshire.

Paul McCallum's first-half effort was cancelled out by Leandro Bacuna, only for Ben Williamson to stab in a late winner.

The result was academic, of course, as 22 individuals saw their first action of pre-season and got minutes into the legs.

As is often the way at the start of pre-season, the Royals set up to name two sets of XI players on either side of the break.  Amongst Paul Clement’s inclusion for the starting side were new arrivals David Meyler and Andy Yiadom, as well as returning attacker Yakou Meite following his loan stint with Sochaux.

That experienced Royals side went looking for an early opener – an attack down the left allowed Mo Barrow to whip in a cross, but John Swift couldn’t quite apply the touch which would have rounded off a fine flowing move.

Instead, the Spitfires went ahead.  After showing lots of dogged work to win the ball back on a dry and sticky pitch, an intercepted pass was quickly used to release Paul McCallum, who fired decisively past Anssi Jaakkola.

Reading looked to offer a quick reply, but a number of chances broke down at the as the assistant referee raised his flag.  Tight decisions went Eastleigh’s way as their defence held a tight line, and the Royals were still trying to get on the same wavelength.

The hosts, who had defended well, were almost exposed midway through the first period as a burst of pace on the flank by Barrow couldn’t be matched – but his cross-cum-shot struck the base of the near post, and out behind.

And just before the break, there were two decent opportunities to go ahead – firstly as Sone Aluko fired wayward from long range after space opened up, and then Barrow’s fizzing low ball just evaded Paul McShane as the centre-half stayed in attack after a corner had been cleared.

Half-time: Eastleigh 1-0 Reading

Fresh for the second half, a brand new Royals side emerged for action - that included Adrian Popa, who returned this summer from a loan stint with Al-Taawoun.

And Popa's delivery into the area seemed to strike an arm of a blue-shirted Eastleigh defender; without the benefit of a VAR system installed at the Silverlake which we've grown accustomed to seeing this summer, the referee wasn't interested in giving a penalty despite the protests.

The Romanian again was involved as players were queuing up to meet Tyler Blackett's delivery from the left byline.  Popa was first to it, but dragged his volleyed effort off target.

Then Danny Loader played an early round-the-corner ball for Dave Edwards; the midfielder was just beaten to the ball by the advancing Spitfires stopper.

Callum Harriott, returning for a first-team fixture for the first time after a lengthy spell on the sidelines, was looking lively on the length and nearly grabbed the equaliser. He could only steer his header wide from Andy Rinomhota's deep cross.

The incessant attacks looked like they were going to be fruitless - Harriott's cross was only half-cleared and allowd Loader to pick up, but his low shot from inside the area hit the base of the post and bounced to safety.

But less than a minute later, a smart ball into the path of Bacuna saw the midfield man take a touch and strike - his effort also hit the post, but narrowly enough that it ended up nestling in the net.

The Royals had chances to turn their deficit into a lead... instead it was Eastleigh who got their noses ahead again through Ben Williamson.  A ball in from the left was diverted goalwards; Vito Mannone reacted quickly to save initially, but the ball was poked over the line by the striker.

And so it ended in defeat for the Royals, but 45 minutes in the legs of 22 players as preparations for the new season continue to take shape.

Full-time: Eastleigh 2-1 Reading

Eastleigh: Childs, Hare, Green, Wynter, Johnson, Murray, Gobern, McCallum, Yeates, Gilot, Hollands.

Reading first half XI: Jaakkola, Yiadom, Gunter, Moore, McShane, Kelly, Meyler, Swift, Aluko, Barrow, Meite.

Reading second half XI: Mannone, Bacuna, Blackett, Ilori, Evans, Edwards, Rinomhota, Clement, Harriott, Popa, Loader.

Attendance: 738

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