News and Views
Another Blackman Goal Sees Off Charlton
17 October 2015
By Hob Nob Anyone?
Reading clocked up their sixth league win in seven matches, to move into joint second in the Championship table, with a 1-0 home win over Charlton Athletic. The win was more comfortable than the scoreline suggested, but it took a late Nick Blackman goal to claim the points after Charlton had been reduced to ten men. The Royals were on top throughout the fixture but struggled to find the break through despite their superiority in all departments. Charlton offered very little, but this was still the kind of match that might have ended 0-0 last season. Not only did Reading secure a late victory but the winning goal once again came from Nick Blackman. Blackman's confidence is off the scale, as will be the confidence of his team mates as they continue to match the high level of expectancy at the club.
The Royals lined up with a positive side, as you might have expected at home against a side struggling in the bottom half of the table - and without an away league win all season. Al Habsi impressed in goal last week and continued with Bond forced to miss out through injury. Al Habsi again did nothing wrong after being called into action several times early in the first half. Although he had no shots to stop apart from a single effort midway through the first half he showed some confident kicking in what would have been one of the easiest clean sheets of his career. The save he did make saw him get down quickly and low to hit right and hold the ball well. It was a rare Charlton attack and the rest of the match saw Reading firmly on top. Really it was just a matter of when Reading would finally score, and after they did it was a question of if they could increase their lead. In the end Reading were forced to settle for the single goal but you couldn't help feel the Royals hadn't ever quite hit top gear.
The defence was solid throughout. McShane commanded the back four and won everything that Charlton hopefully pumped forward in the air. His ability to direct headers to a Reading target made sure Reading retained possession. There did seem to be a lack of urgency from the Royals in the first half. Up front we were failing to seriously trouble the Charlton goalkeeper. We did get some shots in but nearly all found their way well over the visitors' crossbar. Norwood and John both had opportunities that failed to find the target. Towards the end of the second half Charlton enjoyed a long spell of possession - enough to draw cheers from their supporters as Reading were content to let them play the ball around in the middle of the pitch. In the end Reading easily pushed them back and there was no end product, but it was clear Reading needed to up the tempo in the second half.
Piazon had an average first half with a few misplaced paces and was too easy pushed off the ball. However he grew in confidence in the second half and started to look like a player with bags of potential. His hard work nearly produced a Reading goal when Sa did well to cut the ball back, Piazon played the ball to Tshibola who might have done better but shot across goal and well wide. Piazon showed a few nice touches that so nearly came off, such as a clever back heel in the area that just missed his man. Blackman had had limited impact in the first half but was lively in the second. A couple of good runs towards the box ended with at least one shot off target. With twenty minutes to play the game swung in Reading's favour when Charlton's Bauer failed to deal with Blackman and instead hacked him down on the edge of the area when Blackman was perhaps set to score. It was Bauer's second yellow card giving Charlton too long for them to hang on with ten men. Piazon's free-kick got well over the wall, but continued to rise and ended up high in the North Stand rather the net.
Danny Williams then replaced Tshibola and Ola John was swapped for Gareth McCleary. The two substitutes had an immediate impact as Reading got down to the job of finishing off a weakened Charlton. McCleary went steaming down the right and played the ball into Williams and nearly produced an instant goal. Moments later Williams had another chance just on the edge of the box but he struggled to get power into the shot. Players from the starting eleven then combined to produce the vital goal with 14 minutes left to play. Piazon crossed from the left and Blackman stormed into the area to head home from the right side to make it 1-0.
With plenty of time still to play we felt Reading would double their lead but they seemed content to play it safe, not make any mistakes, and secure the win that would take them level with Middlesbrough in second place. Charlton never looked likely to get anything from the match and really it was a case of job done for the Royals. This was just the kind of performance against stubborn opposition that's important if Reading are to maintain a promotion push this season.
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