Date: 19th October 2016 at 11:09am
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Reading unbeaten at home this season and Villa winless away in 14 months? It had to happen didn’t it?!

The formbook would have hinted towards a home win last night as Aston Villa came to town, but it wasn’t the case, as Villa took the spoils late on in Berkshire. It was a victory lifted Steve Bruce’s side to 17th in the table, while the Royals dropped to 10th place.

No real surprises with Stam’s team selection, as Joey Van Der Berg continued in defence alongside Liam Moore, with skipper Paul McShane still injured. Maybe the only eyebrows raised for some fans was the Dutchman remaining faithful in the goal-shy forward Yann Kermorgant.

Villa probably started the first half the better with a more direct approach, but Reading slowly grew into the game, keeping more possession of the ball without hurting the visitors. A neat corner routine gave John Swift a long range strike, but didn’t trouble Gollini.

The breakthrough came against the run of play, as a long ball managed to go over Gunter’s head leaving the backline exposed to Adomah. His cross eventually found it’s way to the big-money signing <>Kodija, whose weak shot took a dodgy deflection ended up in the back of the net.

It was cruel on Stam’s men, but maybe it was the piece of luck Villa have been craving all season. Reading looked a tad shell-shocked and didn’t respond before the half time break. The only time we looked dangerous when we tried to expose their high line with a more direct ball.

Into the second half, we finally clocked on it was working and tried this more direct approach, which was beneficial in the equaliser. We won the ball back in midfield well and a ball over the top gave McCleary some space to run into, but was halted in the box Cissokho.

The referee, mini Mike Dean, rightly pointed to the spot to give us a lifeline. Danny Williams took the ball off McCleary and had his spot kick save by Gollini, but Kermorgant was on hand (or head) to loop his header into the net to level the game and deservedly so for the hosts.

Reading looked the more likely to win the game out of the two sides, as Bruce’s pre-match comments about Villa’s fitness late on in matches was showing. However, the introduction of Jordan Ayew gave food for thought for our backline and eventually become the matchwinner.

Gunter was caught up field with little support from McCleary, leaving Ayew with acres to run into. He ventured into the box, but was squared up with Moore, who dangled a leg and Ayew duly went over, with the referee not hesitating to point to the spot just shy of 90 minutes.

It looked a penalty real time – there didn’t look enough contact to send him over, but you could probably put it in the ‘playing it smart’ category The winger stepped up to casually put it past Al-Habsi to send the Villa fans into bedlam and who could blame to be honest?

It was too late for a second response from Stam’s side – maybe a defeat was harsh, but the same story of taking advantage while being on top comes back to haunt us. Despite their troubles, you can’t deny Villa have plenty of quality and can only look upwards under Bruce now.

For us, we now need to move on from this frustration and focus on a winnable game against Rotherham away this Saturday. No wins in four games in the league is a concern, but tenth in the table is a healthy spot right now, so there is certainly no need for panic at this stage.

Reading – 4-3-3: Al-Habsi; Gunter, Moore, Van der Berg, Blackett; Williams, Evans, Swift; Beerens, Kermorgant, McCleary.

Villa – 4-4-2: Gollini; Hutton, Chester, Baker, Cissokho; Adomah, Gardner, Jedinak, Bacuna; Kodija, Gestede.