Reading FC Match Report: 2012/2013 Season - Premier League
READING 1 ASTON VILLA 2
Reading: N Baker (og, 32 mins)
Aston Villa: C Benteke (33 mins), G Agbonlahor (45 mins).
Reading were denied a point when Noel Hunt had strayed just offside as he followed up Jobi McAnuff’s shot and tapped the ball into the empty net. It was a tight decision but replays proved it to be correct one. One point would not have been good enough, but might have salvaged some hope on a dismal afternoon for the Royals. Losing at home for the second time in succession to fellow strugglers pushes Reading deeper into the relegation zone and lifted Villa out of the bottom three and four points ahead of the Royals.
Reading started brightly and in the second minute, good work by Robson-Kanu produced a great cross to the far post. Le Fondre peeled off his marker and headed firmly goalwards, but at a nice height for Guzan to save. A minute later Robson-Kanu almost controlled a cross from Le Fondre in a good scoring position but the ball did not roll kindly for him and he could not adjust his body sufficiently to get his shot away. Against physically strong Villa defence, Reading looked lightweight in attack without Pogrebnyak. Villa passed the ball well with Bannon and Weimann enjoying a lot of possession. Villa hit the bar with a Benteke header and should have taken the lead when Benteke turned Mariappa before slipping the ball to Weimann who dragged his shot wide with only Taylor to beat. Reading took the lead when Akpan flicked on McAnuff’s cross and Baker made a horrible mess of his clearance under no pressure whatsoever and deflected the ball into his own net. The lead lasted only a minute as a gaping hole appeared in the Royals defence and Benteke’s shot deflected past a wrong-footed Taylor. Reading continued to press but frustratingly McAnuff seemed intent on beating his man once too often rather than deliver a n early ball into the box. On the stroke of half time the Reading defence fell apart and Agbonlahor hammered home after several the ball had hit the woodwork and Reading failed to clear. There were a few discouraging boos from the home fans as the whistle blew. (Do they want their team to succeed?)
Reading were out early for the second half but Villa looked very confident in the opening five minutes and stroked the ball around as Reading chased and harried without getting near the ball. It took a match-saving challenge on Weimann on fifty-nine minutes to keep Reading in the game. Reading rallied and McAnuff cut in from the left and forced a good save from Guzan. Hunt followed up and tapped in from close range but celebrations were muted by the referee’s assistant’s flag for offside. Blackman and McLeary replaced Hunt and Leigertwood and more chances came Reading’s way. Robson-Kanu came close with well struck long range shots but it was clearly not going to be Reading’s day. Huge gaps appeared in the Reading defence as they pressed forward but Villa could not take advantage. The game became stretched but Villa gradually became more cautious and predictably began wasting time. Poor passing decisions were made when on at least two occasions player unmarked in space in wide positions were ignored in favour of the more congested route through the middle of the a packed central area. (A player of McAnuff’s quality should have known better.) Appeals for a penalty were denied when Blackman tumbled in the box.
Relegation is not inevitable, but after today’s result and performance, it is looking more likely. Nothing can be expected from the next two away games so the real battle resumes against Southampton in April. Let’s hope the players are up for the fight and with bit a luck we might still be hanging on hopefully for the final six games. I also hope the crowd get behind the team and the manager and save the debate about what we should have done until the season is over.
This Premier League game took place 1808 days ago in the 2012/2013 season.