Reading FC Match Report: 2012/2013 Season - Premier League
READING 3 FULHAM 3
Reading: M Leigertwood (26 mins), G McCleary (85 mins), H Robson-Kanu (90 mins).
Fulham: B Ruiz (61 mins), C Baird (77 mins), D Berbatov (88 mins).
It was the Royals fighting spirit which salvaged a point from a game which looked to have been lost twice in the final fifteen minutes. Having taken the lead in the first half with a magnificent long range effort rifled in by Leigertwood, Reading were outplayed and overrun in the second half by a slick passing Fulham side and found themselves behind after conceding twice with only fifteen minutes left to play. McCleary came off the bench to equalise only to see Fulham restore their lead with only a couple minutes of normal time remaining. Remarkably Robson-Kanu (also introduced as late substitute) prodded home from close range to send the home fans home happy, or should I say, relieved. So the crucial first win has not arrived, but at least another precious was point gained.
Throughout the game Fulham looked more comfortable on the ball, and their passing and movement left Reading chasing the ball all over the pitch. The Royals however looked dangerous on the break, and had Kebe been more willing to take players on and get behind the Fulham back four, they might have had more than one goal to show for their effort at the interval. Most of Fulham’s football was played in front of a very solid Reading defence and their goal attempts were from a long way out and too high or wide to trouble McCarthy. With Shorey and McAnuff linking up well, Reading posed more of a threat down the left. Pogrebnyak shaved the post early in the half after clever play and a delicate chip by Shorey had wrong footed the visitors defence and presented him with an opportunity to attack the ball in the six yard box. Pressure brought corners which were wasted with extremely poor delivery. The lead came when McAnuff cut inside and rolled a tempting square pass into the path of Leigertwood who responded with an unstoppable drive from just outside the box.
Reading began the second half on the front foot with Roberts bursting through on the right, but Fulham soon established a stranglehold in midfield. A goal seemed inevitable although when it came it was as much to do with shocking defending as the quality of Fulham’s play. Suddenly the Royals collectively switched off. Marking was non-existent and nobody took responsibility to put pressure on the ball. Substitute Luis took full advantage and the lead vanished with a finish to match Leigertwood’s earlier effort. Fulham then took the lead when Baird, who had almost scored following a free kick on the edge of the box glanced in a corner with a subtle header. Given Fulham’s dominance at that point, it looked to be all over as a few home fans made for the exit.
Brian McDermott made changes to bring about an unlikely comeback. On came Le Fondre, McCleary and Robson-Kanu to replace Tabb, Pogrebnyak and Kebe. Reading battled on and were rewarded with an equaliser from McCleary who snaffled up a half chance in the box. Fulham continued to torture the Royals defence with excellent passing and movement. Conceding once due to poor marking and concentration was regrettable, but to concede in such a manner twice was unforgiveable. Berbatov curled in a superbly placed strike following a slick move involving old boy Sidwell. Having worked hard to establish a lead and defended with such good levels of concentration and determination for so long it made falling behind again even harder to swallow. Gloom, anger and frustration briefly engulfed the Madjeski Stadium but the loyal home fans stayed to urge their team on. (Others preferred a place at the front of the bus queue or pole position in the car park.) Their reward was an unlikely equaliser almost on time when Robson-Kanu reacted quickest in a crowded penalty area to stab the ball over the line. Reading were not finished yet and Roberts drew a save from Schwatzer and then Robson-Kanu’s well directed header was scrambled away. Briefly, Reading looked like they were going to take all three points. That really would have been the icing on the cake.
Reading are going to have to fight long and hard to stay up this season and to do so must learn to keep the ball a lot better than they have in their last two games if only to relieve pressure on the back four. If they continue to squander possession as often and as easily as they did today in this league, McCarthy will be picking the ball out of the back of the net far too frequently.
This Premier League game took place 2066 days ago in the 2012/2013 season.