Match Preview – Swansea Vs Reading in the 2011 Football League Championship play-off Final
All credit must be given to Barcelona and Manchester United for agreeing to test the pitch at Wembley on Saturday night ready for the stadium’s main event starting at 3pm Monday Afternoon. The Swans head to Wembley knowing that they are a mere 90 minutes away from a return to the top flight of English Football after a 28 year absence. It will be a tough task as standing in their way are a Reading side who are looking are also looking to return to the top flight after being relegated in 2008. Brendan Rodgers will be facing his former employers, although both parties are keen to stress that all personal feelings will be left to one side come match day.
Since taking over from Rodgers, Brian McDermott has done an excellent job guiding Reading to the Playoff final in his first full season in charge. At the midway point of the season, Reading looked destined to be playing Championship football come next season. However, the second half of this season saw them charge up the league and mount a playoff push, gaining a final finishing position of 5th. Reading beat our local rivals Cardiff to get to Wembley. Reading poses quality all over the pitch. Fedirici is a very good goalkeeper and Ian Harte provides experience at the highest level and is a set piece specialist. There is talent in abundance in midfield with McAnuff, Leighterwood and Kebe adding flair and experience to the side. The strike force of Noel Hunt and Shane Long is one of the most feared in the league and with international strikers to call upon from the subs bench, it will be no mean feat should we overcome the Royals.
The Swans will be without suspended left back Neil Taylor following the failure to have his red card overturned with Alan Tate deputising for the young Welshman. Although long term absentee Ferrie Bodde is back in training, it will be highly unlikely to see the Dutchman feature. Rodgers is likely to stick with the same side that overcame Forest in the semi final.
Key Match Ups
1. Shane Long Vs Ashley Williams
Ever present as part of a solid defence this season, Ashley Williams is destined to play at a higher level. Whether it be as of Monday evening with the Swans remains to be seen. He will be tested to the maximum on Monday as he faces Shane Long. The Irish international has been Reading’s leading marksman this season, finding the net a total of 25 times in all competitions. Ash will have to be at his best to ensure that we limit his chances to a minimum.
2. Leon Britton Vs Jobi McAnuff
The Ex-Cardiff Midfielder proved at the Cardiff City Stadium that given space, he is capable of grabbing goals from midfield and being able to create something out of nothing. Now that Leon’s rightly back in the black and White kit at Swansea, he will need to ensure that McAnuff and the Reading midfield are given little to no time on the ball. His distribution between midfield and defence will be crucial in order to get the Swans pass and move style flowing. Leon has scored 2 in the last 3 games and Reading will be wary of the goal threat can possess.
3. Nathan Dyer Vs Andy Griffin
This is perhaps the most crucial battle of all for Reading if they want to get anything out of the game. Full backs around the league have had collective nightmares about the torture that Sinclair and Dyer have subjected them to this season. Should Dyer be given any sort of space and a chance to take on his opponent, then it could be a long and tiring afternoon for Griffin.
4. Fabio Borini vs Matt Mills
Many have touted Matt Mills to be up there as one of the best centre backs outside of the Premier league. Fabio Borini has been a revelation since his loan signing from Chelsea, finding the back of the net 6 times in 11 games. He has attracted interest both domestically and internationally in his home country of Italy. Fabio’s finishing will send fear through most defences and it could be the undoing of the Royals should they not deal with the Italian successfully.
Head To Head
Both teams re entered the Championship in the 2008-9 season as Swans stormed to the League One Title under the guidance of Roberto Martinez. The Swans have the slight edge in the Head to Heads in this time winning 3, drawing 2 and losing the 1 away from home with the Swans doing the double over our opponents over the course of this season.
1st January 2011 – Swansea 1-0 Reading (Pratley)
15th October 2011 – Reading 0-1 Swansea (Sinclair)
26th December 2009 – Reading 1-1 Swansea (Pratley)
18th August 2009 – Swansea 0-0 Reading
17th January 2009 – Swansea 2-0 Reading (Scotland, Orlandi)
27th September 2008 – Reading 4-0 Swansea
• Swansea’s defence have only conceded 42 goals this season whereas Reading conceded 59
• Reading have scored more than the Swans finding the net a total of 77 times in comparison to the Swans 69
• Both Sides picked up 11 points from their last 6 championship games
It’s going to be a tight match that should be a great advert for championship football. The 12th man will be crucial and the full house at the Swansea end will certainly help. Should we all get behind the team, we are renowned around the League for producing electric atmospheres. The pitch should suit the Swansea style of play and could be a long afternoon of chasing shadows should the Swans get into their familiar style of play. Reading will be no pushovers and posses threats all over the field. Much is made of Brendan Rodgers facing a side he spent time managing, playing and coaching for, but he’s proved this season that he won’t let sentimentality get in the way when there is a job at hand. My thoughts are that a 5 man midfield will be too good for Reading and hopefully see us secure a 1-0 victory with Dobbie grabbing the winner.
All that’s left to say is for everyone to get behind the team and hopefully come 5pm Monday evening, we will be a top flight team. C’MON U SWANS!!!