Miazga magic snatches victory at the death for Reading against Preston


Matt Miazga’s 97th minute strike gave Mark Bowen a dramatic 1-0 victory in his first match as Reading boss.

The last kick of the game proved decisive as Matt Miazga’s bundled effort snatched the win for the Royals and moves them up to 19th place.

In what was a workmenlike affair, the two sides provided plenty of intensity but lacked the quality to warrant all three points for the most part.

However in the dying embers, Miazga pounced on a rebound to send the 13,123 Reading fans at the Madjeski into sheer ecstasy.

Prior to kick-off, the fixture against Preston represented an end to a turbulent week for the Royals. 22nd in the league, Jose Gomes out the door and sporting director Mark Bowen appointed as manager, life as a Reading fan could never be seen as boring.

If you’re being kind, the reaction to the Bowen announcement was somewhat mixed. But if you’re being brutally honest, the response from the supporters had been terrible. With accusations of the Welshman sacking Gomes to appoint himself – a purely selfish move – the incoming boss had some way to go to gain the Reading faithful’s trust.

Despite losing their last three fixtures against the home side, third-placed Preston travelled south with a confidence and a certain swagger to match. A thumping 5-1 victory against Barnsley two weeks ago extended the Lilywhite’s run to just one defeat in their previous ten games – that being a loss to Manchester City in the Carabao Cup.

With tension rife in the Madjeski, it was perhaps understandable the visitors settled the better. The Royals supporters, who were in good numbers despite the unrest, were in watchful mood. You had the feeling that one incident, at either end, could completely change the atmopshere.

However, Reading began to implement their way onto proceedings. George Puscas saw his half-volley fly over the bar before John Swift’s 30-yard free-kick had to be turned away by Declan Rudd.

The opening stages were fiery as both sides held nothing back in their tackling. Reading, often accused of being too nice, too naive, appeared battle-hardened. Their streetwise approach visibily frustrated  the Championship’s in-form side, who were struggling to regain rhythm and composure.

On the half-hour mark, Puscas almost opened the scoring for the Berkshire outfit after good work from Andy Yiadom on the right-flank. A whipped cross found its way to the Romanian who stretched every sinue of his body to reach it. For all his efforts, the striker only managed to get a toe on the ball as he saw his effort go narrowly wide.

Ovie Ejaria had two chances in quick succession as Reading continued to grow into the game. The Liverpool loanee, who was much the bright spark for the Royals, danced around the Preston defenders and fired two shots at Declan Rudd’s goal. Diving low to his left on both occassions, the Lilywhite shot-stopper parried the first effort before holding the second.


John Swift forced a flying save from Declan Rudd – photo: @pnefc/Twitter

David Nugent had the first chance after the break but managed to fire his header straight as Rafael Cabral.

Andy Yiadom was once again the catalyast for a Reading opportunity as Ejaria looked likely to break the deadlock on the hour mark. Yiadom’s low cross was met by the attacker, but his side-footed effort rose too high and over the bar.

With twenty minutes to go, Neil put all his cards on the table. Having used all three of his subsitutions including forward Josh Harrop, the Scotsman went in search of all three points. Harrop had been in good form this campaign, averaging a goal every 120 minutes.

The second-half was nip and tuck throughout with frequent breaks in play not helping either side. Seven minutes of stoppage time were added and by god, weren’t they dramatic.

An initial Reading corner was cleared away before a Jordan Obita shot stung Declan Rudd into action. The Preston keeper could only parry the ball into the path of defender Matt Miazga, who converted from close range.

It would prove to be the last kick of the game as the Royals grabbed the victory.

The late goal sent the home crowd into sheer ectasy and proved one thing; life as a Reading supporter and even player, is never straightforward….

Team Lineups:

Reading (5-3-2): Cabral; Yiadom, Morrison, Moore (c), Miazga, Obita; Swift, Gomes (Adam 83′), Ejaria; Meite (Loader 69′), Puscas (Baldock 69′)

Subs unused: Walker, Blackett, Richards, McIntyre

Preston (4-2-3-1): Rudd; Fisher, Davies, Bauer, Hughes; Pearson, Gallagher (c) (Browne 60′); Maguire, Johnson, Barkhuizen (Stockley 69′); Nugent (Harrop 60′)

Subs unused: Ripley, Rafferty, Ledson, Potts

Attendance: 14,135 (1012 Preston)


About Author

Football, Boxing and Cricket correspondent from Hampshire, covering southern sport. Editor and Head of Boxing at Prost International. Accreditated EFL & EPL journalist.

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