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This Week's Opposition: Reading

Photo Credit: Reading FC

On Tuesday night, the Blues came from behind for the 9th time in the league this season with a 3-1 victory over visitors Cambridge United. Now we move on to Pompey’s 2nd game at Fratton Park this week.

Financially-challenged Reading are the visitors to PO4 on Saturday afternoon.

The Royals were relegated from the Championship last season after a 6-point deduction was placed against the club - Cardiff City would’ve faced the drop had it not been for this.

Let’s take a closer look into the side led by somebody who helped Pompey’s South Coast rivals to Premier League relegation last season.

MANAGER

Spanish manager Rubén Sellés is at the helm for The Royals.

Born in Valencia, he played for local side Parreta CF before finishing his formation with Burjassot CF. At the young age of 16, Sellés was already coaching the youth sides of Parreta and in 2002, he entered the University of Valencia to become coach of the club's football team, leading them to promotion in their first senior season.

Sellés managed this University side for 6 years.

With coaching experience in Greece, Russia, Azerbaijan, Denmark and Spain, Sélles came to England to join then-Premier League outfit Southampton as assistant to Ralph Hasenhüttl in June 2022. In November of the same year, Hasenhüttl was sacked, placing Sellés in caretaker charge of the club.

However he only took charge of one match before new manager Nathan Jones was appointed. After Jones was sacked in February 2023, Sellés was put back in charge and oversaw a 1-0 away victory over Chelsea. The 40-year-old was then appointed manager until the end of the 2022/23 season.

In his 3 months in charge, Sellés oversaw the relegation of Southampton to the Championship, having won just 2 games in 17 matches.

In July 2023, Reading confirmed the appointment of Sellés as the club’s first team manager. His 1st game in charge was a 1-0 defeat to Peterborough United.

ONE TO WATCH

Our one to watch this time around is winger-come-striker Femi Azeez.

After playing for Northwood Under-18’s during the 2017/18 season, Azeez made his senior debut for the club toward the end of the same season, making a total of 12 appearances for the club.

Azeez also played for Wealdstone and Hanwell Town on loan before announcing the move to Reading’s Academy in September 2019. In February 2020, he joined Bracknell Town on an initial 28-day loan deal.

Reading announced that Azeez had signed a new 1-year contract with the club and a year later The Royals confirmed another 1-year contract.

The 22-year-old scored his first goal for Reading and his first professional goal too in a 2-1 win against Preston North End in August 2021.

With 7 goals and 6 assists this season, Azeez wears the number 11 shirt for The Royals.

TOP SCORERHarvey_Knibbs_Feb2024

Harvey Knibbs is the current top goalscorer so far this campaign.

Knibbs joined the Nottingham Forest Academy as a child before moving to the Aston Villa Academy - He signed his first professional contract at the end of the 2016/17 season.

In June 2019, he signed a 2-year contract with Cambridge United and on his debut 2 months later, Knibbs scored the winning penalty as The U’s defeated Championship side Brentford at Griffin Park in the Carabao Cup.

The forward made 156 appearances and scored 26 goals across all competitions in his 4 seasons with the club in League Two and League One.

Knibbs signed a 3-year contract with The Royals in July 2023 and he has so far made 35 appearances, scoring 8 goals and making 4 assists.

Knibbs wears the number 7 shirt for Reading.

CURRENT FORM

A turbulent start to the season saw The Royals hit with a 4 point deduction due to off-field problems and they have been lingering around the relegation zone for the majority of the campaign, up until now…

Ruben Selles’ side are unbeaten in their last 6 league matches and have lost just 1 of the last 13 - That a 1-0 defeat away at Wigan on the 20th of January.

In midweek, a 74th minute Lewis Wing strike had given Reading a 1-0 lead away at Fleetwood Town, however the hosts equalised right at the death to make it honours even on the Fylde Coast.

Only once in the last 47 years have The Royals secured a league victory at Fratton Park and that came in the Championship on the 27th of September, 1997.

The last league meeting on the South Coast between the 2 sides ended in a 1-0 victory for Portsmouth in August 2011 - Dave Kitson with the only goal of the game at the start of a season which saw Pompey relegated from the Championship and Reading crowned champions.

This season’s reverse fixture saw the Blues come back from behind to run out victorious by 3 goals to 2 at the Select Car Leasing Stadium.

Who will come out on top in front of an expected crowd of over 20,000 at Fratton Park?

All of the unmissable action will be right here on Pompey Live, this Saturday (February 17th) afternoon from 2pm.

Kick-off: 3pm!

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