Two goals from Reading attacker Yakou Méïté inside the first 15 minutes ensured it was another away day to forget for Brentford. The forward ensured the game was effectively over just past the quarter hour as he converted at the end of a swift break and then headed in a free kick soon after. Neal Maupay halved the deficit just before half time but that was as good as it got for The Bees.
Reading probably deserved their 2-1 win overall. They built on their first goal and could have been further than 2-0 up after the first quarter hour. They had to withstand a comeback from Brentford and were thankful for the half time whistle just after Maupay’s goal. But they defended well in the second half, particularly during a late onslaught, to take the win and stop Brentford adding to their two away victories this season.
Brentford had probably started slightly the brighter before Reading’s opening goal. The early exchanges were not thrilling but The Bees had a territorial advantage and had the first shot of the afternoon – an effort from Ollie Watkins that was saved. They were also building around the Reading penalty area when the home side broke away to score.
A pass from Josh Dasilva would have put Romaine Sawyers in space inside the penalty area but it was intercepted and with Moses Odubajo also committed to the attack on the left, Reading could break. Mo Barrow burst forward and played a pass that allowed Méïté to run from the right wing to the inside left channel before firing first time across Luke Daniels and in to the net. The run from Méïté took Julian Jeanvier out of the game and the finish was unerring.
Any nerves Reading had suddenly disappeared and they sensed they had a chance to go for the kill. Nelson Oliveira saw a shot blocked after Lewis Baker had robbed Dasilva in midfield and Jeanvier blocked another fierce effort from the same man soon after. Oliveira should have then set up the second when he wriggled free in the penalty area and fired across goal, the shot was not going in but Barrow arrived four yards out only to fail to make a proper connection.
Reading were running riot. Oliveira was pulling in to pockets of space to link the play, their three-man midfield was able to play through Sawyers and Dasilva and Barrow and Méïté were testing the defence out wide. The second goal duly arrives when a free kick from the right by Baker was met by an unmarked Méïté at the near post, he guided a header across Daniels and in off the far post.
The two-goal lead held by the home side at that point was the least they deserved for a dominant start to the game. Brentford had hardly put together any attacking possession and were struggling defensively. But the second goal seemed to give The Bees a jolt and with Reading’s work rate dropping a fraction, Brentford started to build some momentum.
They could have got back in to the game when Watkins met an Odubajo cross with a far post header but Chris Gunter stopped the ball’s progress when it could have bounced in or reached Maupay. Watkins then turned well in midfield and wriggled free, but his shot was easily saved by Emiliano Martínez, albeit Saïd Benrahma running across his path as the shot came in did not help. Martínez then saved a bouncing volley from Dalsgaard when Sawyers found space to pick out a cross.
Dasilva saw a low shot saved and an effort from Benrahma after a quick break flew high and wide. Passes from Watkins, Sawyers and Benrahma then set up a chance for Dalsgaard to shoot but the effort was blocked and then scrambled away as more attackers arrived. A volley from Watkins was blocked and a Benrahma corner was flicked on by Mads Bech Sørensen for Maupay to meet but the shot was saved by Martínez.
The save from Martínez did, however, lack surety as the goalkeeper nearly let the ball through his legs and another error soon after gave Brentford hope. Martínez failed to hold on to a dipping free kick from Benrahma and as it bounced free, Maupay arrived to head back past him and in to the net. It was a goal that Brentford had been threatening and probably deserved for their attacking endeavour late in the first period.
It was also a sign of the nerves in the Reading ranks. The free kick for the goal came when Watkins had been unceremoniously hauled back by Andy Rinomhota and the foul count rose for the hosts late in the half while the shot count climbed for The Bees. Daniels had saved from Oliveira and Andy Yiadom fired wide after cutting inside but Brentford had been dominant for half an hour and had a way back in to the game.
The goal came in the dying seconds of the first half, but Brentford pressed on and had a corner waiting to be taken when referee Stephen Martin blew for the break. The interval, unfortunately, came at the wrong time for The Bees. Reading were able to regroup, and Brentford no longer had the same momentum when the match resumed.
And it was Reading that had the initiative at the start of the second period, creating chances to seal the game. A Baker free kick from 45 yards almost caught out Daniels, who was – like everyone else – waiting for a cross but managed to recover and tip the ball over. Méïté then missed the target with a header before another cross from Yiadom was turned over at the far post by Oliveira after a poor kick from Daniels had presented Reading the ball in an attacking area.
Ovie Ejaria also shot wide after Reading broke away soon after and as the game entered the final 20 minutes, the home side appeared to have control. They had stopped Brentford putting together possession in attacking areas and The Bees had created nothing of note in the second half. But with Emiliano Marcondes, Sergi Canós and Marcus Forss throw on to add impetus, Brentford went for it in the later stages.
A cross from Dalsgaard that Martínez uncomfortably palmed away underneath his crossbar started it off and Brentford pushed on. Maupay saw a shot blocked before an effort from Canós almost sneaked in at the near post before Martínez got a hand to it. The corner was played short, Dalsgaard fed it back and the header from Sørensen was again saved, less than convincingly, by Martínez.
Forss saw a shot blocked when Reading failed to clear a cross and when a free kick was then played deep and knocked back by Dalsgaard, the striker had another effort hit a defender. Jeanvier headed wide in stoppage time as Brentford tried in vain for a goal. They pushed on in the dying seconds but couldn’t find a goal and were left to rue their terrible start to the game.
Reading: Martínez; Yiadom, Miazga, Moore, Gunter; Rinomhota, Baker, Ejaria; Méïté (sub Harriott 85 mins), Oliveira (sub Blackett 89 mins), Barrow (sub McCleary 68 mins)
Subs (not used): Walker, Baldock, Barrett, McIntyre
Bookings: Ejaria (37 mins), Rinomhota (44 mins), Gunter (56 mins), Harriott (87 mins)
Brentford: Daniels; Konsa, Jeanvier, Sørensen; Dalsgaard, Dasilva (sub Marcondes 68 mins), Sawyers, Odubajo (sub Forss 78 mins); Watkins, Maupay, Benrahma (sub Canós 59 mins)
Subs (not used): Balcombe, Field, Ogbene, Oksanen
Bookings: Sørensen (51 mins) (third of season)
Attendance: 16,892 (1,954 Bees fans)