Matt Miazga’s return to the Reading starting lineup payed off major dividends for both the defender and he club.
In his first match since Jan. 25th, Miazga started and played 90 minutes for the club in a 2-0 home win over Barnsley. It was Reading’s first home win since Boxing Day and only their second league win since the start of 2020. Overall, it was a perfect day for Miazga and his teammates.
“I got a couple of sessions in with the team, and I feel good – completing 90 minutes and, more importantly, a clean sheet for the team,” Miazga said postmatch.
“To be fair, we let Barnsley have the ball more than they should have in the second half, but I didn’t really feel like they were going to break us down.”
The Royals were out-possessed by the visitors 62%-to-38% in the match that very well could’ve went in favor of Barnsley. They outshot Reading six-to-four in shots on goal and 23-to-seven overall. However, the Royals remained compact the back and got the job done.
Miazga completed 80% of his passes while having 40 touches in the match. He won four of his five duels, made six clearances, and won all four of his aerial battles. His return impressed manager Mark Bowen who credited the centerback for being ready to go from the opening whistle.
“I’m delighted with the clean sheet – our defence was solid,” Bowen said. “Matt Miazga has been out for six weeks, and he came back in and looked like he’d never been away. Full credit to him and the rehab staff to get him in that state to come back in.”
The win snapped a two-match losing run in EFL Championship play with Reading also breaking a 192-minute goalless drought. With 45 points from 36 matches, the club isn’t mathematically out from the playoff race in the second division, sitting 11 points back with 10 matches left.
First comes an FA Cup fifth round date with Premier League side Sheffield United, a chance for Miazga to line up against one of the surprise stories in England’s top flight. The 24-year-old has made 19 appearances on loan this season from Chelsea, scoring one goal in league play. With the U.S. Men’s National Team next in action later this month, a good run of games could see Miazga toss his name in for consideration into Gregg Berhalter’s squad.
“We go again on Tuesday in the FA Cup Fifth Round – it’s a big game, and we’re looking forward to that,” Miazga said.