Match Report: 2009/2010 Season

Reading: -
Middlesbrough: St. Ledger (12 mins), Lita (55 mins).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 17,638

Pos Team P Pts GD
20 Barnsley 11 11 -8
21 READING 11 10 -6
22 Plymouth 11 8 -9
Reading: Federici, O'Dea, Ingimarsson, Bertrand, Cummings, McAnuff, Howard, Kebe (Hunt, 46), Karacan, Gunnarsson (Sigurdsson, 58), Church Subs not used: Mills, Hamer, Cisse, Matejovsky, Pearce.
Middlesbrough: Jones, St. Ledger, McMahon, Wheater, Williams, Bennett, Yeates (Arca, 70), Adam Johnson, O'Neil, Aliadiere, Lita (Emnes, 88) Subs not used: Coyne, Hoyte, Hines, Digard, Grounds.
Reading: Karacan.
Middlesbrough: -
Ref: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire)
The last Reading player to score in a Reading home victory was Leroy Lita (against Watford in January). Leroy found the net again today with a superbly taken goal early in the second half, only this time his goal helped to extend Reading's appalling home run to fifteen games without a win. The confidence gained from an impressive midweek away win against Preston instantly evaporated and Reading never looked likely to pull back one goal never mind the two required to salvage a point. In the middle of the silence of the second half a lone voice proclaimed, "I'm bored Brendan!" Boredom was certainly evident in a second half performance which will worry most Reading fans for several reasons. The ironic cheers which greeted Noel Hunt's last minute shot summed up a truly inept performance. It was the first save the Middlesbrough 'keeper had made in the entire match. As Brendan Rodgers pointed out in his post match interview, Middlesbrough did not even have to play well to win this game. Both goals were the result of really poor defending, and in the second half the change of formation turned the team into a complete shambles.

For most of the first half Reading passed the ball neatly through midfield. McAnuff in particular was getting behind the visitors defence. Sadly though, his pass selection and shooting did not match his pace and excellent ball control. This was illustrated perfectly when he ran through Middlesbrough's midfield evading wild lunges only to pick out Howard when Kebe was in space to his right. Perhaps he did not have sufficient faith in his 'Premier class' team mate. On other occasions he failed to spot players who had intelligently held their run into the box and were lurking unmarked in front of goal. Reading did have several good strikes at goal, mainly from distance, but they were blocked by a resolute Middlesbrough defence. Church chased willingly, but just like Long and Hunt in earlier games, he struggled to make any impact as a lone striker. We do not have a player good enough to fulfil that role. The lack of ambition in playing two holding midfield players (Karacan and Gunnarsson) in front of a back four, was inviting trouble. It all started to go wrong as early as the twelfth minute when St Ledger was allowed to head a goal from a corner which really should never have reached him. It was the lack basic routine defensive work which created the opportunity.

Having played reasonably well for the first forty-five minutes without forcing a save from the Middlesbrough 'keeper Brendan Rodgers decided to shake things up replacing Kebe with Noel Hunt. McAnuff switched to the right wing and Howard drifted all over the place. From that point it was hard to see what formation Reading were supposed to be playing. On fifty-five minutes O'Dea allowed Lita to turn on the half way line and race through to finish in style. I know he is quick but I would have expected someone running without the ball might have caught him, but the back four were flat-footed and horribly square. After celebrating his goal Lita apologetically waved to the home fans and deservedly received a generous round of applause for showing his respect for his former club and for a well taken goal. Royals fans will question the wisdom of releasing a player of his ability when we are struggling to score. It was a day which brought into question decision making at a higher level than the manager. Rosenior scored for Ipswich and Henry notched a hat trick for Millwall.

After the goal Reading gave the impression they were chasing the ball without any real conviction. They were simply going through the motions without any belief in their ability to get back into the game. The only player worth his place was Karacan who as usual work tirelessly for the cause constantly winning the ball with his pace and anticipation. The frustration of the home fans deepened as the visitors wasted time and the referee chipped in with a couple of decisions which left everyone wondering whether he too had become so bored he couldn't be bothered to watch either. As I pointed out last week, it will take some exceptional performances to keep Reading out of the relegation zone by the end of October. November will be a test of character rather than skill, and from that point of view it doesn't look that promising at the moment in spite of the manager trying to 'talk things up'.
John Wells

From the joy of a tremendous team performance away against Preston back home for another woeful performance against Boro. Talk about highs and lows. Patience is a very testing emotion and we better get used to it based on this performance which was lacking in so many ways, I cannot recall us having one effort at goal, not one! Once again we showed glimpses of how we can play with some great build up play then as we enter the final quarter we hit a brick wall and it all falls down, we desperately need some decent strikers and we all knew it was going to happen and as sure as we were to lose at home again good ol Leroy Lita capped a fine display up front for Boro with a top quality goal. Rewind time some three years ago when Lita scored that winner against Boro in our first every game in the Premiership to secure a memorable 3-2 first win at the Mad Stad. That now feels so far away it may as well be on Pluto.
Nick Newbury

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Reading manager Brendan Rodgers:
"Everything that was good about us in midweek (the 2-1 win at Preston) wasn't good today. We showed quality to get into the areas we wanted to be in but a mixture of poor decision making and poor final ball let us down. We started on the back foot and we were lacklustre - it's difficult to put your finger on it. We need to show courage and bravery at home to make things happen and we didn't do that today."

BBC Sport