Reading FC Match Report: 2013/2014 Season - Championship


Reading: A Le Fondre (45), D Guthrie (75).
Ipswich: J Tabb (16).

The Royals produced the result, but perhaps not the performance they desired, in their opening game of the 2013/14 campaign. After a bright start, they fell behind to Jay Tabb’s first ever goal at the Madejski Stadium. Reading equalised on the stroke of half time. An improved second half performance roused the home fans and Danny Guthrie’s enterprise was rewarded when his well struck long range effort was deflected over Ipswich ‘keeper Scott Loach to provide the winning goal after seventy-six minutes.

Reading pinned Ipswich in their own half in the early phase of the game but Loach was not required to make a save. A couple of early balls into the box from Drenthe caused alarm in the visitors defence. Drenthe was everywhere for the first fifteen minutes making darting runs and showing a good touch. Guthrie was playing very deep and having little impact on the game at this point. As the game progressed it was Guthrie who stood out as Drenthe faded and was eventually substituted receiving deserved generous applause from the home fans. His ability to spot a pass almost created the equaliser on thirty five minutes when he dropped a beautifully timed and weighted ball behind the Town back four into the path of Gunther. The full back’s volleyed ball across goal was cleared by a Town defender.

Slack marking and a lack of urgency allowed former Royal Jay Tabb to give his new side the lead when he was allowed two strikes on goal in succession despatching the second attempt low and hard past McCarthy. Ipswich had a simple plan which was working. Their forwards denied Reading time and space in their own half and forced them to play long high balls to Le Fondre who had very little chance of winning the ball against a very tall Ipswich back four. The equaliser on half time came from a Drenthe corner which was far too deep. McCleary chased it down and returned the ball to the far post from the opposite wing. The ball cleared Loach and was met by Le Fondre and a couple of Ipswich defenders. The ball bounced back across goal and inside the post. There was some confusion over the scorer but at half time it was credited to Alf.

Reading came out for the second half with a greater sense of purpose and tried to pass their way through the Town defence. Guthrie went on a great run through the heart of the defence but Robson-Kanu had drifted inside, crowding the space on the edge of the box and denying Guthrie the option of a pass out wide. An inventive back-heeled pass by McCleary sent Drenthe through on the left wing and his driven low cross was deflected just wide with a subtle touch from Robson-Kanu. Drenthe was foiled by some smart goalkeeping from Loach as the ball took ages to come down before he was able to get his shot away, Loach flying out the smother the attempt. Reading were finding their rhythm and Ipswich were finding it increasingly difficult to cope. Guthrie’s long range strike finally gave Reading the lead they deserved on seventy six minutes. Reading then had to withstand considerable pressure in the closing phase of the game made worse by a spell when Morrison and Pearce were unable to win the ball in the air. An equaliser almost came from a long throw when Ipswich won two successive headers in the box and McCarthy was called upon to save. It was not the only save McCarthy had to make as Town pressed forward but he always looked secure. Tabb almost managed to get the better of him but his low shot from outside the box slid wide of McCarthy’s left hand post.

Reading had chances on the break to seal the points. On one occasion Guthrie illustrated his fallibility when he ignored a brilliantly timed run out of defence by Karacan on the half way line to his left choosing instead to deliver a poorly timed pass to Williams breaking to his right and possession was lost. Karacan was clearly frustrated – me too! Karacan did not catch the eye particularly today but his contribution was significant. As others wearied, he was still making forward runs and winning defensive headers all over the pitch. Guthrie stood out today, and new signings Drenthe, Bridge, and Williams all made a good impression in their first league game for the Royals.

It was important to win today, and there were some promising signs of growth, but there is still al lot of work to be done on the training ground, and possibly a deal or two in the transfer market before Reading can mount a serious challenge for promotion.
John Wells

This Championship game took place 2060 days ago in the 2013/2014 season.