Reading FC Match Report: 2014/2015 Season - Championship


Reading: G Murray (23), P Clarke (og 69), N Blackman (pen 90)
Blackpool: --

This fixture could not have come at a better time for Reading. Without a win in seven games, leaking three goals a game for the last three games, and failing to score in five of those matches, the Royals desperately needed a win. Blackpool, in their current form, were the ideal opponents to provide an opportunity to restore a bit of confidence. Although it was a far from convincing win, it has relieved the mounting pressure on the players and the manager. It was also noted that this was Blackpool’s heaviest defeat of the season.

After an edgy opening in front of a small and subdued home crowd, Reading began to mount some pressure on the ‘Pool defence. Norwood had a couple of good long range strikes which forced Blackpool ‘keeper Lewis to make saves. Murray gave Reading the lead midway through the first half when he nodded Norwood’s cross goalwards. The header seemed to lack power but it bounced awkwardly in front of Lewis and somehow found its way in to the net. The ‘keeper really should have done bette,r but it gave Reading the lift they needed. In spite of taking the lead Reading still seemed cautious. Throughout the team their touch was not sure, passing was not slick enough, and there was a tendency for defenders were content to hoof the ball out of play when it was not really necessary. The latter being understandable after conceding so frequently of late. There was a higher percentage of long balls played than usual, but many were of a good quality, and although it meant conceding possession more frequently, it had the desired effect of putting Blackpool on the back foot. Mackie and Obita in particular got behind the defence to create chances.

Blackpool enjoyed an equal amount of possession but it was Reading who posed a greater threat going forward. Gunter finally found a decent cross only for Robson-Kanu to mistime his leap and get under the ball. With about twenty minutes left a second goal gave Reading a bit more breathing space. Under pressure from substitute Taylor, Clarke headed into his own net. A third goal nearly followed as Reading piled on the pressure. Mackie should have crowned an excellent performance with a goal but he arrived in the box at such pace he was unable to control his strike from Robson-Kanu’s driven low cross and sent the ball high over the bar from close range. The Royals defence then almost contrived to present Blackpool with a goal. After a horrible mix up (probably due to poor communication) Miller hit the post and the ball rebounded off Federici for a corner. Referee Ward, in keeping with a fairly poor performance, awarded Reading a goal kick.

Mackie had another solid performance, turning his full back inside out, and unsettling the Blackpool back four with his physical presence. (Clarke in particular was very unsettled by a robust challenge in the first half.) He was given a much deserved standing ovation when he was replaced by Blackman three minutes from time. The icing on the cake came in stoppage time when his replacement, outsmarted his marker persistence and was tripped on the edge of the box. Ward awarded a penalty. Lewis protested long and loud before Blackman made him look even more foolish by rolling the ball nonchalantly into the left corner as he lurched to the right.

The clean sheet, and more significantly the three points were very welcome, leaving Reading closer to the play-offs than the relegation zone. There is however, still a lot of work to be done to improve the defensive aspect of Reading’s game. Hector, who was harshly booked for a mistimed tackle, was unable to get to grips with Blackpool’s forwards. He particularly had problems in the air. Akpan also, given his size, was also beaten in the air far too often. Blackburn away will provide a much sterner test, but now the squad have the rare luxury of a whole week together to iron out some of the more pressing issues.
John Wells

This Championship game took place 1511 days ago in the 2014/2015 season.