Reading FC Match Report: 2012/2013 Season - Premier League
READING 0 LIVERPOOL 0
Reading can thank Alex McCarthy for keeping a clean sheet and earning a point, ending a run of seven consecutive defeats. Liverpool created sufficient chances to bury Reading, but by the end even they were moved to acknowledge the brilliance of Reading’s ‘keeper on his return from a long term injury. Suarez and Gerrard were first in line to shake his hand at the final whistle. Although Liverpool probably deserved to win, Noel Hunt came close to stealing all three points when he got on the end of a Pogrebnyak cross midway through the second half. Before the game got under way representatives of both clubs laid a floral tribute on the centre circle in memory of the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy followed by a well observed minute’s silence.
Reading still looking for a first win under Nigel Adkins, and adjusting to a new style of play, looked uncomfortable for most of the first half. The Liverpool fans were generating a lot of noise and ill-feeling with heir distasteful chants and fireworks. Thankfully neither lasted too long and were not allowed to detract from what was becoming a highly entertaining contest. Steven Gerrard seemed to be everywhere in the opening phase of the game, strolling around midfield and troubling the Reading defence with probing passes. Reina had very little to do - unlike McCarthy. With the assistance of a brilliant goal line clearance by Gunther, after Suarez clipped the ball over him, the Reading ‘keeper produced good saves from Coutinho and Sturridge (twice) to keep his team in the game. There were glimpses of growing confidence towards half time as the Royals began to keep possession more effectively and McCleary’s penetrating run was halted by a clumsy challenge from Lucas.
The second half was a very different pattern of play emerged as Reading increasingly took the game to their opponents. It was a fast and open game with Liverpool looking very dangerous breaking out of defence. Early in the half Suarez found the back of the net, but was clearly offside, as he had been on several occasions. Jobi McAnuff has looked a far better player since the arrival of Nigel Adkins, and following his example, Reading worked incredibly hard when they lost possession. The long hopeful punt upfield of recent games was absent and it was noticeable how Reading were consistently attempting to play the ball through midfield. Guthrie saw a lot of the ball and was ambitious with his passing. Caricco came on for Karacan and was good on the ball although but it remains to be seen if he has the pace and mobility to compete effectively over a full ninety minutes. With the home crowd sensing a possible upset and urging their team forward, the Royals were dominating periods of play and threatening to score. Hunt came close when a flowing move ended with an inviting cross from Pogrebnyak. Reina did well to block his effort from close range. Guthrie had a shot charged down and McAnuff made room for a shot which Reina tipped over.
Reading’s work rate had been phenomenal as became evident in the closing phase when weary legs prevented them from getting forward in numbers. It is difficult to say if this was due to Adkins expecting and getting more out this squad, or if they had they taken too much out of themselves under the new manager’s increased emphasis on fitness in training. Either way the Royals were put under intense in the last ten minutes. It was time for Alex McCarthy to come to the rescue with three saves of the most amazing quality. Twice he thwarted Suarez, on one occasion even holding on to a well struck effort from close range. The save of the match however was reserved for a superb strike by Gerrard which he tipped over the bar at full stretch as it arrowed towards to top corner of the net. No wonder he was hailed as England’s number one at the final whistle. The draw is of very little help in saving Reading from the drop but it was greeted with a standing ovation by the home fans who appreciated a spirited and more positive performance from their team, and possibly the beginning of a new and exciting era. The gloom of relegation had lifted and everyone went home happy.
This Premier League game took place 2071 days ago in the 2012/2013 season.