Match Report: 2011/2012 Season

20 August 2011: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Hal Robson-Kanu (pen 74 mins).
Barnsley: Stephen Foster (27 mins), Matt Done (68 mins).
Half Time: 0-1.

Attendance: 15,878

Pos Team P Pts GD
12 Nottm F 4 5 -1
13 READING 4 4 +0
14 Leicester 4 4 -2
Reading: A Federici, I Harte, A Pearce, B Khumalo, J McAnuff, M Leigertwood, J Kebe, J Karacan, H Robson-Kanu, B Gunnarsson (M Manset, 70), N Hunt (S Church, 84).
Subs not used: S Morrison, J Obita, A McCarthy.
Barnsley: L Steele, S Foster, J McEveley (J McNulty, 63), R Edwards, S Wiseman, B Hassell, M Done, D Perkins, J Butterfield (J O'Brien, 80), C Davies, D Haynes (A Gray, 58).
Subs not used: G Lovre, D Preece.
Reading: -
Barnsley: Foster, McEveley, Wiseman.
Ref: Brendan Malone.
Losing at home to a team on a run of three consecutive defeats and yet to score a goal in the league is clearly a cause for concern. In spite of completely dominating the second half the Royals failed to take advantage of several promising situations, missed two penalties, and conceded two sloppy goals. Karacan worked tirelessly and Kebe tormented the Barnsley defence but overall it was a poor performance. Last season Long emerged to compensate for Sigurdsson’s departure but there does not appear to be anyone in the current squad ready to step into his shoes and provide sufficient goals to make the Royals serious promotion contenders.

McAnuff started the game by snapping up a loose ball in the centre of midfield and racing on to shoot from distance but generally he had little impact on the game. Liegertwood was also quiet and seemed to lack the commitment he showed last season. Khumalo and Pearce looked steady but lacked authority, and questions will need to be asked about the nature of the goals conceded. A soft goal from a set piece (again), and a gaping hole left through the centre of the defence for Barnsley’s second and killer goal.

Barnsley looked unlikely to score until defensive sloppiness allowed Foster to nod in from close range from a rare Barnsley corner which should have been cleared. Reading waited until half time before mounting a serious assault. Robson-Kanu showing skill, strength and determination went on a run before releasing a superbly weighted pass into the path of Karacan. After skilfully outmanoeuvring the covering defender he screwed his shot wide of the upright but it was an encouraging passage of play. Further pressure brought two penalties in quick succession missed respectively by Harte and Hunt. Barnsley made it two nil hitting Reading on the break through Done. It has to be said the Royals did look vulnerable on the break even against such relatively weak opposition. Harte looked particularly exposed at left back.

Remarkably Reading were awarded a third penalty and amidst ironic demands from the home fans for Federici to take the kick, Robson-Kanu slotted the spot kick confidently past Steele. Having saved leaping to his left twice previously, Steele lost the battle of wits with the Reading striker making the same choice only to see the ball roll inside the opposite post. By now Barnsley had grown in confidence and were prepared to compete more assuredly in midfield.

Brian McDermott brought on Manset and Church to snatch point but neither had the quality or composure to allow Reading to mount a sustained period of pressure and the game drifted away as Barnsley continued to defend doggedly and waste time from throw-ins. Even having been switched to right back in the re-shuffle, Karacan stood out with eagerness to press forward purposefully. The frustration of conceding a second goal prompted some fans to question the use of the money generated by the sale of Mills and Long. They do have a point.

John Wells

Definitely not the worst game we'll see this year. Comical in parts through missing two pens in 5 minutes. Comical defending too. More worried at the back than I am up front at the moment. We played well at times in the second half but some players just didn't turn up (Harte's worst game for Reading, Legs looked off pace, Khumalo was all over the shop) but very promising from some players (Kebe great 2nd half and HRK looked v good up front). We'll be fine though. Get over it. Or maybe I'm just being an RTG.
John Peel

EMBARRASSING sums that up. There are no excuses for losing against a very poor Barnsley team that will probably be relegated. The problems are not really in attack. We are scoring goals at the same rate as we were at the start of last year when we had Long. Robson-Kanu was excellent I thought and now has two goals from one start and a few sub appearances. You cannot criticise that. Karacan had a good game. In defence however, Khulamo was woeful and Pearce (who was largely blameless) needs an experienced centre half alongside him. Gunnar looks well past his best (and I have been a great fan). Harte was awfully slow again but we need his creativity (although that was sadly lacking today - apart from the excellent free kick.

The blame is firmly with the Chairman. We lost Ingimarsson, Khizanishvili and Mills early in the transfer window and to fail to sign an experienced CB is in excusable. And really we could do with two more experienced players in that position. We have missed out on any number of either free or relatively cheap players in that position during the last few months and now we will struggle to find a suitable player. And why buy Morrison at all - they obviously don't rate him enough to give him a chance so what is the point of having him? We need a centre back that can play this season and all we have brought in is a relatively inexperienced unproven player in Khulamo.

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Luke Steele made two second-half penalty saves to hand Barnsley their first league win under Keith Hill. A header from Stephen Foster gave the Tykes the lead before Steele saved the first spot-kick from Ian Harte after Jay McEveley had fouled Jimmy Kebe. Steele came to the rescue again when he saved Noel Hunt's penalty after McEveley fouled Hal Robson-Kanu. Matt Done slotted in the second before Robson-Kanu finally scored from the spot after Rob Edwards had fouled Hunt. Steele also saved a header from Alex Pearce before tipping Jobi McAnuff's fierce driver over the bar. Prior to denying Harte from the spot, the Tykes keeper pushed the Irishman's goalbound free-kick around the post.
BBC Sport