Reading 2-1 Aston VIlla: Poor start continues for away side
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 15/08/17 11:38pm
Aston Villa's poor start to the Sky Bet Championship season continued when they lost 2-1 against Reading at Madejski Stadium.
Villa rarely ventured forward in the first half and Steve Bruce's side were undone by two goals in six minutes early in the second period, as they remained without a win after three games.
Glenn Whelan deflected an Adrian Popa cross into his own net, via an upright, and then Modou Barrow struck from close range for his first goal for Reading.
Conor Hourihane got Villa back into it when he scored with three minutes left but the visitors could not find a leveller. Villa, who finished in 13th place last season, picked up only one point from their opening two matches - from a 1-1 draw at home to Hull. They lost 3-0 at Cardiff on Saturday.
Reading, on a 13-match unbeaten streak at home stretching back to January, also collected only one point from their opening two games - from a 1-1 home draw against 10-man Fulham on Saturday.
Former Villa utility player Leandro Bacuna, who signed a four-year deal with Reading on Sunday, started on the substitutes' bench.
Reading had the better of the opening stages but Villa hit back. Andre Green, with only Vito Mannone to beat, shot tamely at the home goalkeeper. Reading responded with a swift move themselves, Barrow finding full-back Chris Gunter free on the right flank. But the Wales defender's cross was poor and failed to trouble Villa keeper Sam Johnstone.
As the momentum shifted in Reading's favour, John Swift twice went close to making the breakthrough. First, Swift's 20-yard effort drifted just wide of Johnstone's right-hand post; then his far-post header from a Barrow cross was deflected behind for a corner.
Johnstone then twice had to make good saves from the lively Popa - one from long distance, one from close range - in the space of a minute.
Villa held out until the break - but were behind four minutes after it. Popa's low cross-cum-shot took a wicked deflection off Villa midfielder Whelan and looped on to the far post.
Despite Johnstone clawing the ball back, goal-line technology confirmed it had crossed the line and Whelan was credited with an own goal.
Reading increased their lead in the 55th minute, when Liam Moore drilled a pass into the Villa area and Barrow, the former Swansea winger, opened his Reading account with a tap-in. It drew loud jeering from many of the 4,000 travelling Villa fans.
Hourihane gave Villa hope, when volleying home after Gabriel Agbonlahor's chest-down in the 87th minute, but it was too little and too late.
Jaap Stam: "It was very pleasing in how we played. From the start, we were very aggressive, sharp and concentrated in everything that we did. We showed a lot of quality on the ball and with our movement as well. We made it very difficult for the opposition. We knew how they would play, that they would press us.
"We needed to use the spaces and be patient at times and get into the pockets where you can get the ball. I thought we dominated the game in possession and, eventually, you are going to get opportunities to score. We should have scored more goals. Even at 2-0 up, we still wanted to go forward. And we knew they might be pressing higher up the pitch. We just needed to keep our cool."
Steve Bruce: "I'm the manager of Aston Villa and I expect the fans to boo. The results aren't what they expect and I can understand their frustration. They've paid their hard-earned money to come and see the team perform and win. My message to them is ... I've been here many, many times and been successful at every Championship club I've been to. I've been able to get them promoted and, given time, I'll do it again.
"Now, whether I'm given that time, that's not for me to answer. But I sincerely hope so. It's a big job and I'm still in the middle of rebuilding it. I've got to get results, we're in a results business, I understand that. I'm under no illusions that we'll get them. But we need them quicker than we're getting them at the moment.
"It was disappointing tonight because I didn't think we deserved to lose. I was pleased with our response (to going behind), we could have gone under, but we still could have got something from the game."