Reading FC Match Report: 2013/2014 Season - Championship


Reading: S Kelly (90)
Nottm Forest: G Halford (36)

Reading were heading for a fourth consecutive defeat and run of three games without a goal until Stephen Kelly popped up to head an equaliser in the fifth minutes of stoppage time. Forest will claim with some justification they deserved all three points but the Royals must be given credit for raising their game towards the end. It could also be argued that there was a sort of justice that the goal came at the end of a lengthy period of stoppage time which I am sure in part was a consequence of Forest’s excessive time-wasting tactics at throw-ins and substitutions.

Forest came in to the game on a run of good results in contrast to Reading’s dire recent performances. Reading, severely weakened by injuries and the suspension of Gorkss, and low on confidence, pressed hard with some success to stifle Forest’s passing game. In possession however they continued to lack penetration due to a lack of belief and ambition. Heavy rain and swirling winds was not conducive to good passing football but the visitors certainly made a better job of it than Reading. Former Royals Greg Halford, playing in an unaccustomed role of central striker, gave Forest the lead on thirty-six minutes with a well directed looping header. This did nothing for Reading’s already fragile confidence and passes went astray with alarming regularity. Fortunately for the players, the home fans were either hungover or in a benevolent mood and chose not to voice their discontent with too much venom at the half time whistle.

It took a very good save from McCarthy to prevent Halford from adding a second headed goal early in the second half. Reading struggled to retain possession in comparison to their opponents who strung together passes with apparent ease while Reading chased shadows. Later Forest had two very good opportunities to increase their lead after half time, but substitute Derbyshire squandered both of them with poor technique. Substitutions for Reading mid way through the second half sparked a revival. Sharp and McCleary were replaced by Le Fondre and Drenthe, the latter, as always, injecting urgency and invention into the game. Blackman had the best game I have seen from him playing wide on the left, and he lifted the crowd with a stunning long range strike which Darlow did well to block. Forest were clearly on the back foot and Guthrie must have thought he had hit the equaliser when his powerful effort from outside the box was saved a full stretch by Darlow. The Reading onslaught had an air of desperation and as the game moved in to stoppage time they were simply hoofing the ball forward hopefully making no attempt to pass the ball wide. Relief finally came for the loyal suffering Reading fans still remaining in the stadium as Kelly headed the equaliser.

It is still not clear either from the manger’s post match comments or from the performances this season why Reading are currently finding it so difficult to create and or convert chances. It took seventy-eight minutes for Reading to register a shot on target. The frustration is clear for all to see in the crowd and throughout the team though as Williams, Guthrie, Pogrebnyak and Le Fondre all received yellow cards. It is very worrying in terms of morale and discipline when the team’s leading scorer publicly expresses his disapproval of the manger’s decision to leave him on the bench so frequently. A point arrests the slide down the table but you have to go back five games to Reading’s last victory, and even longer to find a convincing team performance. Mid-table mediocrity beckons unless something significant changes in January.
John Wells

This Championship game took place 1543 days ago in the 2013/2014 season.