EFL Championship Play-Offs: Fulham v Reading Preview


We preview Saturday's first leg Play-off tie between Fulham and Reading.

Slavisa Jokanovic’s side will be feeling that all the momentum is behind them after a phenomenal end to the campaign that saw the Cottages win five of their last six games. They managed to take away a playoff spot that was seemingly destined to belong to Leeds United. Having said all that, Jaap Stam’s Royals did finish a massive ten points above the London side when all the tabulations were done. Stam, however, has injury issues that could even out the disparity between the two sides considerably. Fulham will likely look to be positive at home against a Royals side that has been particularly vulnerable to conceding on the road.

Fulham v Reading | Saturday 13 May | Craven Cottage | 18:30

To Win (90 Mins)
Fulham 6/10 | Draw 29/10 | Reading 17/4

Fulham, amazingly enough for this stage of the season, have a clean bill of health going into this game.This will mean that Jokanovic will have a few tough decisions to make, but it does seem as if the stars are aligning wonderfully for the London side. Kebano was excellent against Wednesday but may face the real prospect of being relegated to the bench this week. Chirs Martin will probably lead the line in their dynamic 4-2-3-1 formation. Ryan Sessegnon has been a revelation down the left-hand side while Johanson and Cairney have been immense in the run-in.

Stefan Johanson and Ryan Fredericks will return to the side after being rested at the weekend. I also suspect that Marcus Betinelli will continue in goal ahead of David Button. Fulham have been devastating in attack recently, with goals and assists coming from all directions. Although Reading finished in third place, they only had a goal difference of +2. This means that they are vulnerable to being dismantled at the back and Fulham will find encouragement in this.

Jaap Stam has a few interesting decisions to make. With Paul McShane and Joey van den Berg returning to contention for the match, he will need to decide whether to risk the two players.  I suspect that he may start captain McShane in defence and leave van den Berg on the bench. Secondly, he will need to decide whether to persist with the 3-5-2 formation that helped them to two away victories against Burton and Villa respectively. I think he will opt for this formation giving the attacking threat posed by Fulham.
One huge absence will be that of influential winger Gareth McClearly, who is like to miss both legs. Deniss Rakels and Sandro Wieser are also sidelined, while Callum Harriot has been ruled out indefinitely with a hamstring injury. Yann Kermorgant has scored 18 goals for the Royals this season and will once again be their chief threats up front. So Reading seem to have their work cut out for them this week as they run into an ebullient side that seems to fear nothing at present.

Verdict: Matchbet & BTTS - Yes + Fulham 2/1 
I think that Fulham carry all the momentum going into this match and have no injury concerns to curtail them. Having said that, I think their defense is vulnerable and this bet has far more value than a straight home victory. I can sense a 3-1 type score line.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.

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