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Reading arrive at Griffin Park on Tuesday night bang in form – and with a very familar face as their top scorer.

John Swift, who spent most of last season on loan at Griffin Park, joined the Royals from Chelsea during the summer on a three-year deal.

It is fair to say that Swift’s stay in TW8 polarised opinions among Brentford fans, but so far he has met with universal approval from Reading supporters.

Having scored seven goals in 23 full and four substitute appearances in the Championship for us, he has already found the net four times for the Royals – in six full games and two as a substitute in the League and two in the EFL Cup – to be their top scorer.

His efforts have contributed to Reading currently enjoying an unbeaten run of eight games in all competitions – six in the Championship – to sit fourth in the table, only two points off a place in the top two.

If they maintain this form, it gives them the chance of their first bid for the play-offs in three seasons.

Reading form guide

Bees v Reading form guide

After being relegated from the Premier League after a single season stay in 2012/13, they missed out on the play-offs the following season by a single point.

However the past two seasons have seen them languishing at the wrong end of the Championship table, despite reaching the FA Cup semi-finals two seasons ago.

This campaign didn’t start well with with defeats in two of their first three games – at Wolves (2-0) and Newcastle (4-1) – following an opening day home win over Preston (1-0).

But since then, things have vastly improved.

They have won two – against Ipswich (2-1) and leaders Huddersfield (1-0) on Saturday – and drawn two – with Brighton (2-2) and Birmingham (0-0) – at home and won 1-0 at Cardiff and 2-1 at Barnsley, which was the promoted Tykes’ first home defeat of the season.

They have also reached the fourth round of the EFL Cup, in which they travel to Arsenal next month after seeing off Plymouth (2-0), MK Dons (4-2 on penalties after a 2-2 draw) and Brighton (2-1 away).

It all adds up to a tremendous start in management for Jaap Stam – the former Manchester United centre-half, who was appointed to his first managerial job as Brian McDermott’s successor in the summer.

Incidentally, Swift is not the only ex-Bee in the ranks as centre-half Liam Moore, who played 10 times for us in two loan spells from Leicester in 2013 and 2015, joined the Royals permanently from the Premier League champions during the close season.

WHO’S IN CHARGE

Jaap Stam became Reading’s first overseas manager when he joined the club in June.

Stam is best known in England for his time at Manchester United where, in his first full season, he helped the club win the treble of Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

United also won the Premier League title in each of his other two seasons at Old Trafford and only lost 17 of the 127 games in which he played for them in all competitions in his three-year stay.

Sir Alex Ferguson has since admitted he regretted selling Stam, who went on to more success – winning domestic cups with Lazio and Ajax and helping Milan reach the 2005 Champions League final.

The 44-year-old, who started his career with PSV Eindhoven, also won 67 caps for the Netherlands – playing in the 1998 World Cup finals and three European Championships.

After retiring in 2007, he held various scouting and coaching roles at United, PEC Zwolle and Ajax before returning to England this summer.

LAST SEASON’S MEETINGS

Away wins were the order of the day when Brentford met Reading last season.

In the August meeting at Griffin Park, Nick Blackman scored twice to give the Royals a 3-1 victory – their first Championship win of the season.

Blackman doubled Reading’s lead just past the half hour mark after Orlando Sa had put them ahead.

Lasse Vibe scored his first Bees goal to give us hope midway through the second half but Blackman confirmed the win with a penalty nine minutes into second half stoppage time.

Brentford gave us a late festive gift by avenging that defeat with two goal of the season contenders as we won 2-1 in the return at the Madejski Stadium at the end of December.

Ryan Woods superbly hammered us ahead from distance early on – his first Bees goal – and although Garath McCleary equalised early in the second half, Sergi Canos collected a long Woods pass, cut in and finished brilliantly to win it.

Reading’s Michael Hector was sent off late on after collecting a second yellow card.

Bees v Reading recent record

Bees v Reading recent record

Infographics supplied by https://kickoff.co.uk

WHAT THEY SAY ABOUT US

The former Reading captain and now BBC Radio Berkshire sports presenter Ady Williams looks back at his memories of previous meetings with the Bees – including the famous all-or-nothing final game of the season in 2002, in which he played.

Q How would you assess Reading’s start to the season and how do you see it unfolding?

A It’s been a very good start. I believe after nine games in the Championship and other cup fixtures, the best start for a Reading side in all competitions for over 10 years. Before the season I feel all Reading fans would have accepted mid-table. The last two seasons have seen a finish of 17th and 19th. But after the start, after the progress we have seen in recent weeks, it’s hard not to get greedy!

Q What memories do you have – good or bad – of previous trips to Brentford with Reading, as a player, fan or commentator/presenter?

A The best memory (sorry to say) is when we gained promotion to the Championship in 2002 after a 1-1 draw at Griffin Park. Brentford needed a win, we needed a draw or victory. The atmosphere was incredible, as you’d expect the away end was packed. We went 1-0 down, actually I blame myself for the goal, should have done better!! But thankfully Jamie Curo equalised and the rest they say is history.

Q Have you had any amusing or unusual experiences at previous Bees-Reading games as a player or commentator/presenter – and if so, what happened?

A No real funny experiences as a player or presenter. I actually don’t think I’ve presented from Griffin Park before. As a player I used to enjoy playing there. Just down the road, derby atmosphere, nice surface, dressing rooms were not great, but you can’t have everything. There was always a big Reading/Brentford connection though. Coppell, Pardew, Sidwell, Ingimarsson, Sonko etc etc

Q Which Bees players will you be most wary of?

A After a hat-trick against Preston the obvious player Reading will have to keep a close eye on is Scott Hogan.  The 24 year old made a slow start to the season but according to boss Dean Smith led the line superbly well in that game.

Q Who should Bees fans look out for particularly on the Reading side – any of the new signings or people from last season’s team?

A Although 34 years of age Yann Kermogannt is still a handful. He is as good as I’ve seen in the air in the Championship and will definitely win more balls in the air than any other player on the pitch.

He might not run you in behind, but his link-up play is decent and the system the boss Jaap Stam is adopting is beginning to pay off. Yann is a big part of the team, experience and guile which will always help. Trust me as a defender, if you’re isolated with him on the back post and a cross comes in… Panic!!!

TEAM NEWS

Reading have been hit by recent injuries and suspensions – although it hasn’t stopped their march up the table.

However, despite this they still have five League ever-presents, two players who have been involved in all nine games and two others who have each started eight times.

In Saturday’s win over Huddersfield, they played a 3-5-2 formation.

Ali Al Habsi was in goal, behind a defence featuring Chris Gunter, ex-Bee Liam Moore and Jordan Obita, who replaced the suspended Tyler Blackett.

Embed from Getty Images

Paul McShane sat just in front of the defence and he was joined in midfield by Joey van den Berg, who had recovered from a hamstring problem, winger Callum Harriott, making his first league start of the season to replace the suspended Garath McCleary, John Swift and Danny Williams.

Yann Kermorgant was the solo striker.

One-time Brentford target George Evans, who had started the eight previous league games, came on as a substitute during the second half.

Blackett and McCleary are both still suspended for Tuesday night’s game.

IAN WESTBROOK

@ianwestbrook

PUBS IN BRENTFORD

For Reading fans coming to the game, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming.

There are now only three pubs around the ground, following the closure of the Royal Oak.

The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very, very busy. The New Inn is on the other side and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal is the other option.

Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) is the Beesotted pre-match pub. This boozer & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’.

The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields (it’s a much better pub crawl route getting off at Northfields than South Ealing) before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route).

There is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.

For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit the brand new boozer One Over the Ait right on the river – beside the bridge. There are loads more too.

A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have a look around.

Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Rd (ie. North) via Ealing Road or Windmill Road.