Match Report: 2009/2010 Season

Reading: Church (47 mins).
Ipswich: Stead (9 mins).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 19,053

Pos Team P Pts GD
21 Plymouth 16 15 -11
22 READING 16 14 -10
23 Ipswich 16 12 -11
24 Peterborough 16 11 -9
Reading: Federici, Ingimarsson, Bertrand, Pearce, McAnuff, Tabb, Howard (Cisse, 75), Matejovsky, Sigurdsson (Kebe, 76), Rasiak (Long, 61), Church. Subs not used: O'Dea, Hamer, Karacan, Gunnarsson.
Ipswich: Begovic, David Wright, Rosenior, Bruce, Leadbitter, Quinn (Colback, 79), Edwards (Peters, 59), Delaney, Walters, Stead (Counago, 63), Priskin. Subs not used: Lee-Barrett, Healy, Wickham, Brown.
Reading: -
Ipswich: -
Ref: D Whitestone (Northampton)
There was a renewed sense of optimism amongst the crowd at the Madejski Stadium before the kick off following a good performance at home to Leicester and the away victory at Coventry which should have lifted the players, but their tentative approach to the game undermined any advantage that it might have brought. From the kick off Howard scooped the ball into the air and concede possession which seemed to set the tone for the first half. Howard was particularly guilty in the opening minutes of wayward passing but he was by no means alone in committing that crime. Gloom descended early in the game when Ipswich were allowed to take the lead following a piece of poor defending the like of which is rarely seen even in the lower reaches of the Sunday leagues. A long throw into the box was unbelievably allowed to bounce. followed by a feeble attempt at a headed clearance which looped onto Stead's boot who popped the ball gently over Federici into the net.

Reading's attempts to restore parity were disappointing to say the least. I lost count of the number of crosses which were either over hit or under hit. Rasiak came close with a far post header from a rare good ball into the box from McAnuff and Howard clipped the bar with a long range effort, but the quality of play was generally poor from both sides. Matejovsky was struggling to make his passes count, but he was not helped by a lack of movement or width. Lack of confidence illustrated by a reluctance to receive the ball became increasingly evident towards half time. Fortunately Ipswich were even worse at retaining possession.

Many fans lingered over their half time refreshments and the second half kicked of very quietly as they drifted back to their seats. Suddenly the game came to life as Church deflected a shot across goal into the net to level the scores. Ipswich almost equalised immediately when Priskin curled a shot wide of the post with the Reading back four finding it alarmingly difficult to close him down. For most of the second half however it was one way traffic towards the Ipswich goal. and with bit of luck or competent refereeing, the Royals would have taken the three points they deserved. The sadly out of form Long was brought down in the box but, as is often the case, the only person in the stadium not to see it was the referee. Play continued amidst the appeals and Church hit the bar and McAnuff had his effort blocked from the rebound. The biggest threat to Reading came from over indulgence from certain Reading players conceding possession as illustrated by Howard when he took someone on with little cover behind him and only a smart reaction save from Federici kept Ipswich out form the resulting corner. Rosenior cleared a Long header off the line and there were a few goalmouth scrambles which suggested Reading might sneak a win but it was not to be. Near the end the unthinkable almost happened when Priskin twisted and turned in the box, and as Reading defenders sat down all over the place he curled his shot wide.

The need for a home win has become even more pressing as Reading now find themselves in the bottom three. Everyone can take heart from much improved recent performances and a more settled side. It was also encouraging to see McAnuff tackling back although the midfield does look a bit lightweight defensively, and still find Karacan's absence slightly puzzling. There is much talk of John Madejski taking the blame for the current bad run for not investing in better players, and the fans are being incredibly patient, but if Reading are still the bottom three at Christmas big changes will need to be made.

John Wells


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Reading manager Brendan Rodgers:
"It was a game we came into with big confidence but gave ourselves a mountain to climb by giving away a goal at the beginning. It was a stupid goal. I thought we should have had a penalty when Shane Long was brought down near the end. It's clear there was contact when you see the TV replay. You usually get those at home. We had some really good moments in the first half but failed to capitalise. It's a frustrating end to a couple of good weeks."

BBC Sport