News and Views

Reading 2 Wolves 1: Things We Learned

06 March 2017
By Alex Bower

Reading returned to winning ways on Saturday afternoon with a 2-1 victory against Wolves at the Madejski Stadium. Yann Kermorgant opened the scoring when he deflected a Danny Williams shot into the net. Wolves levelled moments later through Ben Marshall when he was allowed to tap in from close range. It was captain Paul McShane, however, who was to head the Royals in front and secure all three points.

Here are some of the talking points from the game:

Points Make Prizes

After two back-to-back defeats to fellow promotion candidates Huddersfield and Brighton, Reading needed to win against Wolves. While the performance was by no means pretty, the win stopped the rot and brought back some much needed confidence ahead of Tuesday's game against Newcastle.

Lacklustre Attendances Continue

No one thought at the beginning of the season that Reading would be challenging for promotion. The reality of the situation, however, is that they are. The problem for the Royals is that there is no direct correlation between the league positioning and the attendances. When your local team is challenging for promotion to the Premier League, you would expect people to flock to games.

Despite the end of the season creeping ever closer, attendances still fall well behind those of their promotion rivals. Even Jaap Stam this week has commented on how poor it is considering their league positioning.

The main argument for people not coming to the game will be the style of football. Yes at times it is not the most exciting thing to watch. Yes it has the potential to go wrong with the pitch in the state it is. But at the end of the day the Reading players have performed above expectations this season and deserve the attendances to reflect that.

Stewarding Scenario

It is an issue that has gained increased coverage across social media and one that does not show signs of stopping. Everyone who attends games at the Madejski Stadium knows how often home fans get rightfully mocked for the near silent atmosphere. Reading could be winning the game comfortably and you could still be able to hear a pin drop.

This is why the fans in Y25 and Y26 are vital. Unfortunately those who are responsible for generating the majority of noise are being punished for standing during games. With the Reading players often pleading for an improved atmosphere, it is difficult when the stewards are encouraging the exact opposite.

Yes health and safety is important but game after game the away fans are allowed to stand for the duration. Fans buy tickets in that stand to purposely make noise and get behind the team. Forcing them to sit or potentially leave will only be a detriment to the team.

Popa Looks Promising

The surprise change ahead of the game was the introduction of Adrian Popa in place of Garath McCleary. McCleary has been a vital component in the Reading machine this season but in recent times has appeared somewhat off his usual standards. As a result I was happy to see him rested ahead of the Newcastle game.

As for Popa (the first Romanian to play for Reading) I was largely impressed. The winger showed that he had plenty of pace and a willingness to run at defences - arguably qualities that have surprisingly been missing from McCleary's game in recent times.

One of the best qualities he possesses is his willingness to chase down defences when he doesn't have the ball (unlike Roy Beerens on the opposite flank). The only concern will be his current lack of an end product. Given his lack of game time this is somewhat unsurprising. As the season comes to a close, he could be a real asset if given the opportunity.

Much Ado About Blackett

I'm sure many will be with me when I say that I am tired of singling out Tyler Blackett after games. Unfortunately, the left-back put in another disappointing performance against Wolves. It has to be said that in the first half in particular the Reading performance in general was pretty poor, but Blackett is a repeat offender. Somewhat strangely, however, the errors in his game only seem to happen when he is playing at left-back.

While he is somewhat error-prone, I do at times feel sorry for him. When Roy Beerens is playing, Blackett is often left to contend with numerous opponents by himself. That said, the misplaced passes to teammates and dawdling on the ball are worrying events that continue to occur.

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