Reading FC Match Report: 2014/2015 Season - Championship
FULHAM 2 READING 1
Reading: P Pogrebnyak (63).
Fulham: A Kacaniklic (55), B Ruiz (90)
Bryan Ruiz delivered a last minute sucker punch that floored Reading FC and secured Fulham a fortunate 2-1 victory. Reading will feel aggrieved not to be returning down the M4 with something from a game they dominated and will now be nervously looking over their shoulder.
Gareth McCleary returned to the side as the only change from the Middlesborough line-up. Jamie Mackie dropping to the bench in place of Jake Taylor.
Reading took the game to Fulham from the first whistle, earning their first of what would be twelve corners in the 5th minute. The corner, unsurprisingly, was swung to the back post for Alex Pearce. His header forced a goal line clearance from Stafylidis.
Fulham had a good chance in the 6th minute. They seized on some poor interplay between Gunter and McClearly to work the ball into the box from the left hand side. Rodallega should have done better as he pushed his shot well wide of the post. In the 15th minute, Obita delivered a cross from the left into the box. It ran through to McCleary who fired it back into the danger area. The ball ended up with Robson-Kanu just inside the edge of the area as Reading were unable to capitalize on the deliveries. His turn and shot did little to trouble Bettinelli as it curled over the bar.
Whilst the game was open, Reading appeared to have the more productive possession. McCleary, in particular, was causing the Fulham defence issues. His direct running with twists and turns forced Fulham to concede numerous corners. Small flurries of attacks from Fulham were well marshalled by Pearce and Hector. Hector blocking a Rodallega shot in the 23rd minute.
Cox and Williams drove shots from outside the area in the 25th and 28th minute respectively. The latter forcing another corner. This was the first corner where the target wasn’t the back post. It was dropped at pace in the centre of the goal where a Pogrebnyak diving header caused panic around the Fulham goal. It was a sign of things to come.
The shots continued for Reading as they took control of the game. Norwood drove a shot wide in the 36th minute. Norwood had a free kick in the 41st but failed to force a save from the keeper. Williams wildly fired a shot over the bar in the 43rd minute. Federici was as at his best just before half time. A 45th minute Fulham corner saw Federici palming away a powerful header from a point blank Sam Hutchinson header. Rodallega picked up the rebound but could only steer the ball against the post.
A scrappy start to the second half ensued, with neither side able to get control of the game. It was a surprise when Fulham, who had failed to threaten, broke the deadlock in the 55th minute. A sublime long ball from ex-England international Scott Parker found Kacaniklic in space. Kacaniklic drove past Gunter to finish smartly.
The goal appeared to lift both the Reading team and 3000 fans. The scoreline didn’t reflect what had been a decent enough Reading performance so far. Alex Pearce headed another back post corner into the arms of Bettinelli in the 61st minute. Cox unable to apply the finish to another Gareth McCleary cross in the 62nd minute. A dangerous cross from Obita in the 63rd minute bypassing the on rushing Cox. Reading were turning up the pressure and you felt an equalizer was imminent.
The opportunity came in the 65th minute. Norwood opted to drop the corner onto the six yard box again. Pogrebnyak made no mistake as he got across his marker to power a header into the back of the Fulham net. Wild scenes of celebration followed. Reading fans now smelt victory and for a split second it felt like Simon Cox had completed the comeback in the 70th minute. He poked the ball into the back of the net only to be ruled offside.
Simon Cox had a shot deflected wide in the 72nd minute and Hal Robson-Kanu could only head a Gareth McCleary cross into the arms of the keeper in the 75th minute. Pogrebnyak had a diving header drift wide in the 81st minute. Nick Blackman and Jamie Mackie replaced Pavel Pogrebnyak and Simon Cox in the 84th minute. Danny Williams smashed a ball into the hands of the keeper in the 85th minute. Jamie Mackie was unable to adjust his position in time to finish an Obita Cross in the 86th minute. As the game approached full time, the play was stretched, turning the match into a game of Russian roulette. You could sense there was a winner in the game.
In the 92th minute Fulham retreated as Gareth McCleary brought the ball forward. Blackman supported the run and was treated with a through ball from McCleary that split the Fulham defence. At the vital moment it appeared that Blackman lost his footing, sliding in on the ball and pushing it wide. A frustrating moment that seemed to confirm the game would finish level. However Reading, who had pushed on for the win, were stretched as a McCormack found Cauley Woodrow beyond the far post. He managed to head it back across goal for Ruiz fire a bullet header past the outstretched arm of the helpless Federici. The goal a consequence of Reading’s desire to find a winner. Little time was left for Reading to respond and the disappointment was etched on the Royals fans, staff and players.
Steve Clarke certainly delivered on his ‘we will try to win every game’ promise. Whether it was naive or brave to abandon the team structure in order to secure at least a point remains to be seen. Whilst we hover in the waiting room for a relegation battle points are desperately needed in order to secure a stress-free end to the season. Only two goals since Glenn Murray returned to Crystal Palace rubber stamping the need for a finisher during the January transfer window.
This Championship game took place 1342 days ago in the 2014/2015 season.