Reading FC Match Report: 2015/2016 Season - Championship
READING 1 CARDIFF 1
Reading: G McCleary (37)
Cardiff: L Immers (65)
This was a game Reading could and should have won. Having dominated the first half and taken the lead with a superb strike from Garath McCleary they let Cardiff off the hook missing two further excellent chances to increase their lead before the interval. City, with a little help from an incompetent referee (aided by an equally inept assistant with a flag) snatched an equaliser early in the second half and held on for a point they did not really deserve.
With Vydra on the bench and Taylor coming in for Obita, Reading returned to their 4-1-4-1 formation following the away defeat at Brighton earlier in the week, with Kermorgant as the lone striker. Ola John was troubling the City defence from the start. He cut inside in the second minute, rode a couple of challenges and unleased a powerful strike which ‘keeper Moore was unable to gather at the first attempt. He then slipped a perfect ball through for Kermorgant who was prevented from giving Reading the lead by the onrushing Moore. City also threatened to score in the early stages notably when Noone was given far too much room in the box but fortunately Reading his effort hit the underside of the bar and was cleared when it looked easier to score. Robson-Kanu picked up an injury midway through the half and was replaced by McCleary. With just under ten minutes of the half remaining the Royals took the lead with a quite brilliant goal. John’s deep cross was flicked on by Kermorgant to McCleary who took the ball on his chest, turned, and volleyed the ball into the net all in one movement. McCleary has not been at his best recently but this was piece of outstanding individual skill worthy of winning any match. Reading could have given themselves the comfort of a two goal lead just before half time when John was clean through with only Moore to beat but delayed his shot before losing the covering defender and then dragging his shot wide with the goal at his mercy. It turned out to be a crucial miss.
Referees are at their best when nobody notices them. Enough said that Darren Drysdale was the centre of attention in the second half. He had already allowed some blatant pushes go unpunished (as did his myopic assistant) and waved play on as Kermorgant was scythed down from behind believing it to be to Reading’s advantage for play to continue. The move broke down and John was booked for a foul when Reading lost possession. The far worse foul on Kermorgant went unpunished. Quinn was kicked and then dragged down by Connolly as he broke though from midfield clearly an offence worthy of a yellow card but not according Mr Drysdale. Connolly did eventually push is luck too far and received the yellow deserved. It would have been good to see Vydra playing alongside Kermorgant instead of replacing him on the hour but McDermott was determined to retain a five man midfield and in holding on to a lead at the time it made sense. However City made their changes on sixty-five minutes and they had an immediate impact. Ameobi was introduced on the right and within a minute created an equaliser. Under the noses of the referee and his assistant he controlled the ball with his hand and went on a run before trying his luck with a long range strike which beat Al Habsi, bounced off the inside of the post, and fell kindly into the path of Immers who simply had to nod the ball over the line.
Reading threatened to score the winner. Vydra drew an acrobatic save from Moore with a well-judged lob from the edge of the box, McShane was flattened in the box but this referee was unlikely to start getting things right at this stage in of the game, and Cox volleyed wide from an acute angle after John dug out a delightful deep cross to the far post in the last minute.
Today again Reading produced some flashes of good football but lacked a cutting edge. Kermorgant is a real asset with his ability in the air but even if McDermott plays without a second striker he should think about getting someone to push on beyond him to take advantage of the frequent times when he wins the long balls played up to him. There also needs to be some serious consideration given to improving the quality of crosses which all too often fail to get beyond the first defender. Admittedly today this was not helped by Robson-Kanu’s early departure. At this stage of the season however, there is nothing for Reading to play for and Brian McDermott faces a real challenge to motivate his squad, some of who know they will be moving on.
This Championship game took place 736 days ago in the 2015/2016 season.