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Match Reports

Barrett and Méïté each at the double; Royals into Round Three

Recap of the action from Ho

27 August 2019

Two fantastic strikes by Josh Barrett - each time equalisers - plus two from Yakou Méïté gave the Royals a 4-2 win at Home Park against hosts Plymouth Argyle.

It was a brave and battling performance from a young Reading team, but quality prevailed. Barrett's double were both sublime; Méïté's spot-kick to go ahead late on was ice-cold, and his match-sealing strike was reward for the hard work all around.

In the midst of a hectic August schedule – of which this was the third lengthy away trip in the space of seven days – boss José Gomes opted for a younger-than-usual squad to meet the Pilgrims.

That included a debut for Akin Odimayo, partnering Gabriel Osho at centre-half, and a full debut at right-back for Teddy Howe. Thierry Nevers, Ramarni Medford-Smith and Ethan Coleman, all yet to make their first senior debuts, took a seat amongst the subs.

But the really big news for Royals supporters was the inclusion of Jordan Obita. Almost two years since his last appearance for Reading, after a torrid time with injury, our Academy graduate finally returned to first-time proceedings and led the side out of the tunnel as captain.

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Goalkeeper Sam Walker, making his first appearance of the season, was called upon in the opening three minutes to keep the scores level. Attacking down the right, Callum McFadzean cut onto his right boot and hung up a delivery for Ryan Taylor – his close-range header was tipped over smartly.

Before long, Argyle stopper Mike Cooper made his first stop of the night. Yakou Méïté’s persistence saw him win the ball high upfield from Niall Canavan, but the angle favoured the goalkeeper as he released a snapshot.

The hosts were showing adventurous attacking spirit and could have opened the scoring when Danny Mayor drove to the byline and cut back for Zak Rudden - six yards out, Osho put in a hearty block. Jose Baxter was wasteful on the follow-up, striking the bouncing ball into the ground, sending it looping onto the roof of the net.

Reading's young charges weren't having much luck in penetrating a solid Plymouth defence; Josh Barrett's volley from 25 yards was wayward. At the other end, Odimayo made a terrific recovery to deny Rudden the opener as he darted towards a slide-rule pass.

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But soon Argyle had the ball in the net - and despite the Royals' protestations, the goal stood. Charlie Adam's recovery challenge in the Reading area appeared to have crossed the goal-line by a clear foot before Rudden knocked it back into play - but the referee's assistant allowed play to continue, meaning Taylor had the hosts ahead in controversial circumstances.

Méïté tried to level mere minutes later as he drifted in off the right and pulled the trigger with his left. The wet ball slipped away from the hands of Cooper, but he recovered just in time to deny Barrett a tap-in.

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But that leveller did come, thanks to some devestating forward play from the boys in the blue and white hoops. Adam fizzed an early ball into the channel, completely bisecting the Pilgrims' defence, sending Barrett racing away. With options arriving at pace, Barrett instead flashed a shot into the far corner.

A deficit could have turned into a lead before the break but both Danny Loader and Barrett were off target. Loader, playing deep, stole into the area to get on the end of Méïté's delivery but guided his unmarked header past the post. Then he teed up Barrett, who took a touch to get the ball out of his feet and another to whip just past the post.

Half-time: Plymouth Argyle 1-1 Reading

A minute after the restart and Barrett again went close. This time it was Loader showing strength to turn and thread to Andy Rinomhota, who found Barrett in turn on the edge of the area. But he was visibly frustrated with himself as he sliced a left-footed effort wide of the near post.

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But for all of Reading's positive intent at the start of the second period, it was Argyle who went ahead again. The Royals felt that they should have been awarded a free-kick when Pilgrims skipper Joe Edwards sliced through the back of Olise; nothing was given, allowing the hosts to break. Baxter's shot from distance skidded into the bottom corner.

The young Royals showed fighting spirit from their trailling position. Méïté came close to turning in Adam's corner at the far side after a daring Loader dribble had won the set-piece, and then Loader himself stung the palms of Cooper with a well-hit left-footer.

And a minute after Sam Baldock came on as a sub, he was denied by McFadzean's clearance off the line. Barrett again caused danger as he drove into space on the left wing, and a deflected cross-shot ricocheted towards the Royals forward. An instinctive poke towards goal beat the goalie, but not the recovering defender.

Conor Grant had a chance to further extend the Argyle lead as they won a free-kick, inches outside the box. But Walker read the strike well through the masses of bodies and held low.

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Instead, Reading went level again with another bit of brilliance from Barrett. Pulling away into space on the left again, Barrett cut inside Tafari Moore, entered the area, and curled into the postage-stamp. The goalkeeper didn't move - the away support in raptures.

Obita came close to scoring with a rocketed effort which Cooper kept out - it would have been a dream return to action for the skipper on the night. And then Baldock, receiving from the menacing Boyé, curled into the arms of the goalie.

But three minutes from time, Reading led for the first time. Boyé's threaded pass was inch-perfect for Méïté to latch onto - just before the goalkeeper - drawing the foul. Méïté stepped up and hammered in from 12 yards.

As the game entered stoppage time, a quick counter put the result beyond doubt - Baldock centred for Méïté to slot in under the body of Cooper.

Into the hat for Round Three we go!

Full-time: Plymouth Argyle 2-4 Reading

Plymouth Argyle: Cooper, Wootton, Canavan, Edwards (c), Taylor, Mayor, Baxter (C.Grant 64), McFadzean, Moore, J.Grant (Sawyer 70), Rudden.
Unused subs: Palmer, Aimson, Lolos, Randell, Fletcher.
Goals: Taylor (22), Baxter (56).

Reading: Walker, Howe, Obita (c), Osho, Odimayo, Rinomhota, Adam (Boyé 70), Barrett (Morrison 90), Loader, Olise (Baldock 64), Méïté.
Unused subs: Virginia, Medford-Smith, Nevers, Coleman.
Goals: Barrett (35, 72), Méïté (87, 90+1).
Yellow: Adam.

Attendance:

Referee: Mr K Johnson


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