Reading v Blackburn
Tuesday March 2, 20:00
Reading bounce back
Reading bounced back from a two-game losing run as they held on to claim a valuable 1-0 victory against Championship strugglers Rotherham at the New York Stadium on Saturday. Michael Morrison's poked home from close range as the Millers failed to clear midway through the first half for the decisive strike of the match, to the delight of Veljko Paunovic.
The Royals boss admitted the win was the toughest game he had faced while in charge of Reading. Speaking post-match, the Serbian said: "Winning today gives us an important boost and a chance to build new momentum. There is a different buzz in the changing room. This was probably the toughest game for me since becoming Reading manager."
Paunovic made two changes to his team in defence for the match at Rotherham with Andy Yiadom replacing Tom Holmes at right-back and Omar Richards coming in for Tom McIntyre at left-back. Reading are hoping to have Yakou Meite and Lewis Gibson back in the fold this week, although both will undergo late fitness tests ahead of the Madjeski Stadium match.
Blackburn end losing streak
Ben Brereton's first-half goal helped Blackburn end their five-game losing run in the Championship with a point against 10-man Coventry on Saturday. The visitors hit the bar inside 20 seconds but found themselves behind after 27 minutes when Brereton fired a sweetly-struck shot home for out-of-form Rovers at Ewood Park.
Tony Mowbray's men held their lead until the 50th minute when the Sky Blues equalised. And Blackburn - who enjoyed 66% of ball possession - were unable to pinch a late success despite Coventry seeing out the final eight minutes a man down. Barry Douglas came closest when his dangerous free-kick missed everyone but rebounded back off the woodwork.
Mowbray was frustrated by his team's defending for the leveller but suggested post-match that an upturn wasn't too far away should Rovers continue to compete. He said: "We haven't been battered by any team and I haven't come away from any game thinking that we deserved nothing from that. Let's keep rolling with it, it was a frustrating day for us."
Reading and Blackburn have been involved in a few thrilling affairs in recent seasons and neither team boast head-to-head to supremacy across their 13 league fixtures since dropping out of the Premier League. The duo have shared five wins apiece in that sample since 2013/14, with the Royals returning W3-D1-L2 in Madjeski Stadium meetings.
Reading's 2.546/4 latest league success was welcome after four Championship losses in five had threatened to derail the Royals' path to the play-offs. The Berkshire outfit have suffered from inconsistency following a record-breaking start to the season, posting W9-D5-L11 since the end of October. The hosts have returned W5-D0-L7 on home soil in that same sequence.
Blackburn 3.002/1 are also in the midst of a sustained lean spell. Like Reading, Rovers have been rocked by key injuries throughout the campaign and have produced only W4-D4-L9 since early December with Tony Mowbray's men particularly toiling on their travels in that time (W2-D2-L6). Exclude the bottom-seven and Blackburn have W2-D2-L8 on the road.
Reading and Blackburn have proven to be two of the more watchable sides in the second-tier. The duo have each only fired blanks in eight of their respective Championship clashes and both are operating inside the top-five for goals per-game - the Royals' outings delivering 2.48 goals per-game, with Rovers' encounters seeing 2.63 goals on average.
With that in mind, I'm happy to support Over 2.5 Goals at 2.1411/10 on Tuesday. Veljko Paunovic's charges have seen a chunky 11/16 (69%) of outings at their Berkshire base produce a minimum of three goals, including seven of their most recent eight. Meanwhile, eight of Blackburn's nine contests with top-seven sides also paid out for Over 2.5 Goals.