Reading FC Match Report: 2013/2014 Season - Championship


Reading: --
Blackburn: C Conway (36).

Once again a fairly ordinary, but well organised side came to the Madjeski Stadium and took all three points. Today’s performance underlined why the Royals will struggle to maintain their place in the top six until the end of the season. Having impressively outplayed high flying QPR away from home last week confidence and expectations were high. Poor passing, poor finishing and finally poor refereeing prevented Reading from salvaging a point from a game they were expected to win. The game turned on two key moments. A poorly directed header by Jobi McAnuff on the half way line allowed Rovers to hit Reading with a counter attack to take the lead against the run of play. Later Reading were denied an equaliser in the second half when the referee and his assistant failed to acknowledge the most blatant hand ball in front of goal I have seen for a long time.

It was game high on incidents but low on quality. The game punctuated by frequent stoppages for injuries and lethargic substitutions by Rovers to such an extent a total of eleven minutes of time had to be added by referee Scott. It was all very well indicating he was adding time as Rovers players provocatively ambled off when their number came up but they were actually deliberately disrupting the play and slowing the game down without any reprimand. Apart from the appalling error over the penalty decision, he made a meal of the ludicrous drop-ball situations, and was inconsistent in his interpretation of the laws of the game throughout. Most of that would not have mattered if Reading had shown the quality evident in some their recent performances.

Rovers successfully stifled Reading’s midfield and attack limiting them to one shot on target in the entire game. Too often Reading resorted to crossing the ball from deep positions which made life easy for Robinson. Most ‘keepers are happy when the ball is launched straight at them from some distance. Pearce continued to look shaky at the back and was repeatedly beaten in the air. Reading’s passing was predictable, lacking in penetration and frequently misplaced. Rovers were defending extremely well, so when they scored on thirty-five minutes, an away win looked a real possibility. Following a Reading free-kick on the edge of the box the ball came back to the half way line. McAnuff gave the ball away, Rovers broke through, and although Gunther almost recovered possession, he was impeded as he attempted to clear and Conway ran in unmarked to hit a shot which was diverted past McCarthy by the unfortunate McAnuff. McCarthy had to save from Rhodes at full stretch moments later or the game would have been over by half time. Obita stood out with the quality of his long passing, composure on the ball, and willingness to get forward. Playing at left back is allowing him to rapidly develop into a very good player. Reading’s best chance when McAnuff worked himself an opening but feebly hit his shot too close to Robinson. Pogrebnyak let fly inside the box and sent the ball high and wide as half time approached. It was beginning to look like one of those days.

In the second half Reading seemed to believe their best outlet was Obita but he was unable to get past the full back to unlock the Rovers defence. McCleary and Gunther had no better luck on the other wing and in desperation Reading resorted to playing a long ball game which favoured the Rovers defence. A triple substitution saw the arrival of Drenthe, Guthrie and Robson-Kanu and the departure of Pogrebnyak, Akpan and Mc Cleary. Drenthe, as always, created a sense of urgency but when the ball dropped to him at the far post he ballooned the ball high into the South Stand. The nine minutes of stoppage time was even more disjointed and ill-tempered than the rest of the game except by now Reading had lost their shape completely and looked even less likely to score. Let’s hope for a better performance next week at home to Yeovil.
John Wells

This Championship game took place 1489 days ago in the 2013/2014 season.