Reading City face back-to-back games after one of wettest Februarys on record

Reading City manager Simon Johnson. Photo: Neil Graham.
Reading City manager Simon Johnson. Photo: Neil Graham.

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Two more postponements in the space of 48 hours have added to Reading City’s already congested backlog of fixtures.

The problem is the Rivermoor pitch which took an almighty pounding from rain last month, one of the wettest Februarys on record.

It has been reported that up to Sunday, February 25th, 96.6mm of rain had fallen at the University of Reading, making it the eighth wettest February since records began in 1908.

What makes it even worse is that the Scours Lane ground, used by Reading City and Woodley United, is only metres away from the River Thames, and the water levels have been among the highest in recent years. Scours Lane had to be closed in January due to severe flooding, preventing access to the football ground.

This was depressing news for Reading City and two months on, problems continue to exist.

They have not played a home game in the Cherry Red Records Combined Counties League since December 30th, when they hammered Berkshire rivals Holyport 5-0.

Reading City vs Holyport. Photo: Peter Toft.
Reading City vs Holyport. Photo: Peter Toft.

The Cityzens were hopeful of getting their 2024 games underway this week, but they were forced to postpone last Tuesday’s (12th) fixture with Edgware & Kingsbury and Thursday’s (14th) game against Egham Town.

Speaking on Friday, frustrated manager Simon Johnson said: “Last night the pitch was perfect apart from one or two areas that held too much water.”

It means they still have to play 13 home games, while Woodley have nine.

“That’s 22 home games in 43 days between us, before any more rain, plus away fixtures,” Johnson added.

The FA recently told Step 5 and 6 leagues there will be no extension to the season, but did add: “Games that don’t involve clubs with a possibility of promotion or relegation may be rescheduled to no later than 4th May.”

Johnson said it now looks like City will be forced to play on consecutive days at some point in the next few weeks, with Woodley United at home on at least a couple of Thursdays.

Home and away, City still have 16 matches to play before the end of April, and there is plenty still to play for, as if they win all of their games in hand, they would have a good chance of making the play-offs. The current top two, Rayners Lane and Flackwell Heath, are so far clear of the field that it looks certain they will fight it out for the title, but the battle for third, fourth and fifth places remain up for grabs, and City have a good chance of getting involved.

Rayners are scheduled to visit Reading on Tuesday, March 16th, followed by Flackwell on April 1st.

In addition to the league, the Cityzens are still involved in the Southern Combination Cup and are set to meet Abbey Rangers in the quarter-finals at home on Thursday, March 28th. They may, however, agree to concede home advantage, as they did in the last round when they beat Cobham 1-0.

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