Thursday saw the announcement of our 2018/19 fixtures; the plans are laid for the campaign ahead.
46 league fixtures are in the calendar… nothing gets decided in August, but a good start to the new campaign can’t harm!
So let’s take a look at our first six fixtures, which fall in a busy first month. We take on two rivals from the East Midlands, the two second-city clubs and a pair of sides from Lancashire who had very different experiences last season…
Derby County (H) – Friday 3rd August 2018, 8pm
The EFL season begins at Madejski Stadium. Our ground hosts the big kick-off of the 2018/19 campaign; it’s a home meeting under the floodlights, in front of the Sky Sports cameras, against Derby County.
The season starts here! Madejski hosting Friday-night opener against Derby21 June 2018
We can expect all the pre-match chat to be about the visitors. Frank Lampard’s arrival as Rams boss has cast the limelight on Pride Park… the expectation levels have ramped up as the much-decorated former Chelsea and England player embarks on his first managerial foray. But, to date, no players have arrived to bolster the squad this summer.
Last year, we took four points from the Rams – a 4-2 win away from home, and a 3-3 draw on the reverse meeting at Madejski Stadium – a game that saw Liam Kelly strike a stunning volley, which was eventually named as our Goal of the Season.
Nottingham Forest (A) – Saturday 11th August 2018, 3pm
Our first away trip is to Derby’s great rivals, Nottingham Forest. And there has been something of a spending spree already at the City Ground this summer; João Carvalho and Tobias Figueiredo have arrived from Benfica and Sporting Lisbon respectively for a reported eight-figure fee. Michael Dawson, a former England international centre-half, has also joined.
That might increase the pressure to perform for manager Aitor Karanka, who will be entering his first full season with Forest. After arriving in January, the East Midlands side won just five of his 21 games in charge; the Royals held them to a 1-1 draw in February when Omar Richards netted his first senior goal.
In the first fixture between the two sides, it was Reading who took the points; John Swift scored a double and Sone Aluko added one in a 3-1 win.
Birmingham City (H) - Tuesday 14th August, 8pm
Completing an opening trio of fixtures against sides from the Midlands is Birmingham City, our visitors in the first round of the Carabao Cup for a midweek meeting. And, thanks to the new rule-changes in this year’s competition, it will either be decided in 90 minutes or by spot-kicks – we won’t have any extra time.
The Blues are another side which, at time of writing, are yet to register any activity in the transfer market this summer. Garry Monk arrived at St Andrew’s – or the St Andrew’s Trillion Trophy Stadium, as it is now known – in March and put together a string of results which helped avoid relegation with games to spare.
And while the ‘Trillion Trophy’ moniker might seem a tad optimistic, the Blues do have a recent bit of silverware to point to – they were winners of this very competition in 2011, defeating Arsenal at Wembley in the final. We’ll be looking to end any of their hopes at the first hurdle.
Bolton Wanderers (H) – Saturday 18th August, 3pm
If it wasn’t for a remarkable final five minutes of the season, the Trotters would be looking forward to a Sky Bet League 1 campaign in 2018/19. But the 3-2 turnaround against Nottingham Forest on the final day – including two late, late goals – ensured that Phil Parkinson’s side would stay in the division for another year.
An incredible ending to what had been, up until then, a very tough season for a Bolton side which included former Royals such as Jem Karacan, Adam Le Fondre and Andy Taylor – all managed by our former skipper.
Karacan was one of 10 players to have left the club this summer; two have arrived in the shape of Jason Lowe (Birmingham) and Erhun Oztumer (Walsall). We shared the spoils on both meetings with the Lancashire side last season; a 2-2 draw at the Macron, and a 1-1 tie at the Madejski.
Blackburn Rovers (A) - Wednesday 22nd August, 7.45pm
And after hosting a Lancashire side, it’ll then be our turn to travel in the opposite direction as Ewood Park becomes our first midweek away venue of the campaign. Like many of our matches this year, it’ll be a Wednesday-night fixture, thanks to the EFL’s new broadcast deal.
Rovers, who had former Royal Dominic Samuel in attack last season, earned promotion back to the Championship after a season away. Samuel was on the scoresheet last time we visited Ewood Park – he was in a Reading shirt that day, and netted our first in a 3-2 victory.
Tony Mowbray will be tasked with ensuring they can stay put in English football’s second tier; however he is taking the patient approach to recruitment for life a level up, with no players incoming as yet.
Aston Villa (A) – Saturday 25th August, 3pm
Completing a busy first month of the season is a visit to Villa Park; the Birmingham-based club are into their third straight season at this level, having missed out on promotion to Fulham in last season’s play-off final.
For Steve Bruce and the Villans, it will be an interesting summer for business; the sales of Jordan Amavi and Pierluigi Gollina have put some cash in the coffers, while John Terry left the club after a single season and Jack Grealish reportedly has a number of suitors in the top tier.
Each side took a home victory when we met them last season; a 2-1 win for the Royals in RG2, and a 3-0 Villa triumph in the Midlands.
Make sure you’re involved for the season ahead… get your Season Ticket! The renewal period for those who committed to us last season is open until July 2nd, but new supporters can buy at any time too.
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