Quick-fire Reading double gives the Royals pre-season victory.
Two quick-fire goals for Reading helped them on their way to a 2-1 win over Gillingham in a pre-season friendly at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Joao and Andy Rinomhota scored within moments of each other during the first period, then giving Gillingham a lot of work to do. However, they responded well with John Akinde pulling one back from the penalty spot and coming close on a few occasions to grabbing a second goal, although Jack Bonham at the other end made a string of excellent stops to give the visitors in the game.
Steve Evans named a strong side for the trip with Robbie McKenzie starting at centre-back following his arrival at MEMS Priestfield Stadium on Friday morning. Zech Medley partnered him in the centre of defence with Kyle Dempsey, Alex MacDonald and Jacob Mellis all getting the nod in midfield.
John Akinde started up top with Brandon Hanlan.
The early exchanges were fairly even with neither keeper massively tested, but both sides enjoyed decent possession in the middle of the park. A chipped effort from a Reading forward comfortably cleared the bar before Bonham dealt with a cross from the left hand side following a counter attack.
Gills appeared to be holding their own but then conceded twice in the space of sixty seconds. First, a header from a corner was guided past Bonham by Joao, and then Rinomhota found space between the lines who got into the box and shook off his man before making enough contact ahead of the advancing Gills keeper to find the bottom corner.
With the visitors two down the last thing they needed was an injury concern, but Connor Ogilvie shrugged off a knock before referee called time for the first third. Three thirty minute periods were carried out at the Madejski rather than the traditional 45-minute periods.
Reading had opportunities to increase their advantage in the second period, most notably from a John Swift free-kick which Bonham touched onto the bar before being cleared for a corner. The Gills stopper also had to be alert to palm away a header at his near post following a deep cross from the left hand side.
Gills had a couple of half chances when the ball was brought back from the byline but, although Mellis and Akinde were well placed, they couldn’t quite make the required contact to beat the goalkeeper. However, defenders put bodies on the line to block any potential effort.
The visitors weathered the storm and progressively began to slow tempo down, put passes together and pin Reading back. Eventually their patience and hard work paid off when John Akinde was brought down inside the penalty area; the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and the striker stepped up to convert.
The Royals had an early opportunity once the third period had begun, but Bonham did well to come out and narrow the gap which forced the eventual shot to hit the side netting. Soon after a ball was played in behind Medley and the advancing striker was unable to convert the one-on-one chance when his effort cleared the bar.
A solid drive forced the Reading keeper into action with sub Vadaine Oliver unable to make anything of the rebound. Gills went in search of the equalizer as the clock ticked down, with Jordan Graham’s free-kick well defended by the home defence. However, the Championship side held on to secure the win.
Reading starting XI: Rafael, Yiadom, Richards, Morrison, Moore, McIntyre, Laurent, Rinomhota, Swift, Olise, Joao.
Gills: Bonham, Jackson, McKenzie (Tucker 60), Medley, Ogilvie, O’Keefe, Mellis (Oliver 60), MacDonald (Graham 60), Dempsey, Hanlan (Woods 76), Akinde.