Reading won 2-1 away at Fulham in the Championship last night, and the Royals now sit five points from the play-off places.
Another fine win at Craven Cottage last night gave Reading the perfect start to 2020. A fifth goal of the season for John Swift gave them a first-half lead, and a first for the club from Charlie Adam after the restart secured the win in the capital.
Reading looked every bit a play-off chasing team last night as they fended off one of the league’s favourites for the title going into the season, but just how far can Reading go this year?
Since Mark Bowen took charge back in October, Reading have taken 27 points from a possible 42 – moving up from 22nd to 14th, and closing the gap to the top-six from 12 points to five.
Surpassing the halfway point in the season as well, Reading look to be hitting form at just the right time and with the January transfer window now open, good business by Bowen can only improve his chances of a dream first season in full-management.
The win last night was Reading’s fourth in a row and the consolation goal from Fulham’s Ivan Cavaleiro was the first that Reading have conceded in five – in Bowen’s 14 games in charge the Royals have conceded ten goals, compared to the 17 that Jose Gomes’ side conceded in 11 games this season.
It’s too early for any team in the Championship to start talking about their fortunes this season, but with Reading’s Championship status all but secured for the next, why not have a little natter about the play-offs?
Both Brentford and Millwall have moved into the top-six after slow starts to the season and who’s to say that Reading couldn’t do the same come May? The top-half of the table is tight enough – only six points separate 3rd-place Brentford from 12th-place Cardiff, and only ten separate Brentford from 16th-placed Middlesbrough.
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Anyone could be in the top-six come the end of the season. A run of three or four wins will get you right on track (as with Reading), and a run of as many losses could throw you right out of the picture (see Bristol City).
2020 bodes well for Reading and Bowen. After their FA Cup Third Round tie against Blackpool this weekend, they’ve some tough fixtures in Forest, Millwall, Bristol City and Cardiff later in the month.
January will be a real test of Reading’s mettle and of their top-six credentials, but whatever the outcome, Bowen is doing a superb job at the club.