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Match Previews

🔜 Ahead of the game | Boro travel to the Madejski

Neil Warnock's side the latest visitors to RG2

19 February 2021

Having returned to winning ways with three points over Bristol City at Ashton Gate, the Royals will be hoping to push that momentum into the weekend and begin to string together another unbeaten run, starting with the visit of Middlesbrough who travel to the Madejski on Saturday.

Having made the Royals work hard for a share of the spoils during a 0-0 draw at the Riverside Stadium when the two side's met in October, Veljko Paunovic's side will have to be on their metal to get the better of a physical Neil Warnock outfit, who continue their chase for a top-six spot. 

Saturday's visitors themselves ended a run of successive defeats last time out with a win over Huddersfield Town, meaning they too will travel to Berkshire full of confidence. Victory for Reading against eighth-placed Boro, could see us move 11 points clear of seventh.

How to watch

Saturday's meeting with the The Boro is available for supporters to watch via iFollow.

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Royals supporters can grab their Match Pass to watch proceedings unfold, by clicking here ahead of our 3pm kick-off.

The opposition

Having previously failed to win in five, Warnock's men shook themselves free of their bad run with a 2-1 victory over Huddersfield Town at the weekend. The Boro sit six points beneath the play-offs, with the chance of promotion still firmly in their sights with 16 games to play.

During Boro's home win over the Terriers, midfielder Paddy McNair was dismissed following a foul on Juninho Bacuna, but the red card has since been appealed and rescinded, meaning the Northern Ireland international will be available for selection at the Madejski.

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During the January transfer window, Boro bolstered their ranks with the additions of former-Preston North End defender Darnell Fisher, Everton winger Yannick Bolasie, free agent goalkeeper Jordan Archer and a deadline day loan swoop for Fulham's Neeskens Kebano.

One to watch: Jonny Howson

Described by Warnock as 'the best midfielder in the league', former-Norwich City man Howson signed a new contract with The Boro back in November, and has continued to operate at the heart of midfield for the Teesside outfit ever since.

The 32-year-old, who arrived at the Riverside in July 2017, has scored once in 27 appearances during his fourth season with Middlesbrough. The ex-Leeds United captain has a wealth of experience at Championship level, and has previously won promotion to the Premier League on one occasion with the Canaries during the 2014-15 season. 

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Howson began his career with Leeds, and in 2011 represented England once at U21 level. His one goal to date this campaign came during a 2-1 win over Barnsley. 

The West Yorkshire born man who has over 550 career appearances in 15 years is a versatile operator who can be deployed across the midfield, from defensive lying positions, to as a number ten.

Pre-match chat

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Head-to-head

The Royals haven't tasted victory over The Boro since a 2-0 win back in October 2015, and will be hoping to set the record straight on Saturday.

That last win over the Teessiders came courtesy of a Danny Williams opener after just 15 seconds, and an 88th minute penalty from Nick Blackman, which saw the Royals to victory at Madejski Stadium.

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The last time the two side's met, proceedings ended in a stalemate as the Royals best efforts to notch an opener were cancelled out by Warnock's men. Prior to October's draw at the Riverside, Boro had won all of their previous seven meetings with Reading. 

The Royals have won nine and drawn 11 of a total 36 meetings between the teams, dating back to April 1927.

Ref watch

David Webb will be the man in the middle come Saturday afternoon, for what will be his third Reading game of the season.

Webb has already taken charge of two Royals fixtures this season, our 3-2 defeat to Coventry City at St Andrews in October 2020, and our 0-0 draw away at Swansea City back in December 2020.

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Ian Cooper and Rob Smith will assist Webb at the weekend, while Robert Massey-Ellis will be the fourth official on this occasion.

During Webb's 24 league games to date, he has brandished 60 yellow cards and four additional red cards.

Notes from STAR

Supporters' Trust at Reading have put together their 'programme notes' ahead of the game, which you can access by clicking here.

Reminder

A polite reminder to our supporters that no unauthorised access will be permitted to this game, so supporters must not travel to Madejski Stadium.

We can’t wait to see you all again soon – but for now it’s important that when we play, please stay away.


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