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Reading boost Championship promotion hopes with easy win over 10-man Coventry

Reading v Coventry City – Sky Bet Championship – Madejski Stadium
(Image credit: David Davies)

Reading strengthened their Championship promotion push with a comfortable 3-0 victory over 10-man Coventry.

The Royals moved to within three points of the top two after stretching their unbeaten run to four matches.

Veljko Paunovic’s side went ahead in the 16th minute when top scorer Lucas Joao slotted home his 17th goal of the season from close range.

Andy Rinomhota made it 2-0 straight after half time and John Swift added a third with a superb 72nd-minute free-kick.

Coventry centre back Kyle McFadzean was sent off for his second yellow card for the foul that led to Swift’s goal.

Reading and Coventry had followed curiously similar paths since the turn of the year.

On January 2, both won their last league outings – Reading 2-1 at Huddersfield Town and Coventry 2-1 at Millwall.

On January 9, both lost away in the FA Cup third round – 1-0 to Luton Town and 2-0 to Norwich respectively.

And both had home fixtures postponed last Saturday – Reading v Brentford, Coventry v Sheffield Wednesday – due to Covid-19 concerns in their opponents’ camps.

Reading started well and pushed forward promisingly along the left flank.

Twice they were awarded free-kicks in dangerous positions outside the Coventry area. On each occasion, though, the set-piece delivery from Swift was poor and the opportunities went unrewarded.

Coventry should have gone ahead in the 14th minute when right-back Leo Ostigard found space to meet a clever Sam McCallum cross. But the Norwegian totally lost his bearings and glanced a weak header wide from only a few yards out.

Two minutes later, Reading went ahead. Swift sent a long searching pass to Joao, who manoeuvred superbly in the Coventry box before thundering a shot past goalkeeper Ben Wilson.

Reading almost doubled their advantage when Ovie Ejaria jinked past several challenges only to strike Wilson’s near post from a narrow angle.

Joao twice had decent openings before the break but failed to add to his impressive tally.

Coventry, with a 3-2 victory at St Andrew’s in October, had ended Reading’s eight-match unbeaten start to the season.

But they showed little in the first half of the reverse fixture, most of their approach work lacking penetration at the crucial moments.

And within 30 seconds of the restart, they found themselves 2-0 down.

Joao crossed from the right and Rinomhota drove home a fine left-footed shot that sped past Wilson. On his 100th appearance for the club, it was the holding midfielder’s fourth goal – and first this season.

Coventry tried to respond positively but McFadzean pulled down Ejaria and saw red for picking up his second yellow in only 11 minutes.

From the free-kick 25 yards out, Swift delivered a fierce strike that served to rubberstamp Reading’s growing promotion credentials.