Reading FC Match Report: 2013/2014 Season - Championship
READING 1 LEICESTER 1
Reading: A Pearce (16).
Leicester: D Drinkwater (33).
Reading clawed their way back into the play-off places with a creditable home draw against the division’s top side. With all the calm assurance of a team already promoted, City eased their way into the game after conceding a goal from a set piece after only sixteen minutes. Reading on the other hand were desperate for points and, lifted by an early goal, threatened briefly to extend their lead. There was no shortage of courage or determination from the Royals but ultimately their play lacked the quality and composure required to overcome a side bound for the Premier League.
Good opportunities were wasted in the opening minutes. Pogrebnyak elected to blast the ball at a defender on the edge of the box with a free player wide to his left and McCleary irritatingly held his run as Williams slipped a really good pass inside the full back. Showing glimpses of the football that has earned the Foxes promotion, City cut through the Reading defence and put the ball past McCarthy after nine minutes but Reading were reprieved by the assistant’s flag for offside. Reading took the lead when Obita floated in a free kick from the right which Pearce headed back across goal past Schmeichel. It was a well taken goal and reflected how much Pearce’s heading has improved recently. Fuelled by the confidence of a goal, the Royals attacked City with pace and determination epitomised by Gunter’s surging run and tackle to feed McCleary who wriggled past the full back to produce a dangerous cross which was scrambled away by Scmiechel.
Not for the first time recently Reading conceded from a long range strike. Drinkwater was not closed own quickly enough and the unsighted McCarthy was unable to keep out a good strike. McCleary’s pace and strength almost gave Reading a half time lead, but with only Schmeichel to beat, his finish was poor and the City ‘keeper was able to flick it wide. The referee awarded a goal kick to compound the frustration for Reading.
The second half was a lively affair with fast open football from both sides with neither able to find the crucial second goal. Pogrebnyak almost gave Reading the lead after forty-nine minutes with a well placed header from McCleary’s cross which hit the post. Drinkwater was finding a lot of space in midfield and, but for a brilliant save from McCarthy, would have given City the lead on fifty-four minutes from a move which demonstrated why they will probably go up as champions. Nigel Adkins attributed his three second half substitutions to injury, but they did not help Reading’s cause. Losing Obita and Williams was disappointing in particular. As the game wore on Reading’s passing became increasingly erratic. The back four looked extremely uncomfortable in possession as City’s forwards pressed them. Leigertwood lumbered on and, after two late tackles resulting a red card three minutes from the end, lumbered off again. He has been one of Reading’s best players in recent years and he never has been particularly quick but, after a long lay-off, he has become even slower, and I suspect this will be his last season.
It is anyone’s guess who will finish sixth in the play-off scramble and Reading have as good a chance as anyone. It was not a great performance from Reading this evening but it was a better result than many expected. Hector and Gunter impressed with their attitude and competitive drive but it will take a bit more creativity and quality in front of goal if Reading are to make the play-offs.
Reading put in a reasonable showing at home against promoted Leicester City, to pick up a valuable point and sneak back into sixth place, with four games of the season left to play. The Royals are sixth only on goal difference now as Reading, Brighton, Ipswich and Bournemouth all target that final play-off place for a shot at promotion to the Premier League. It's now eight games since Reading last managed to win at home - a run that threatens to leave Reading outside the play-off positions at the end of the season. Out of the last seven home performances this was one of the better performances as Reading looked good in parts against the runaway Championship leaders. Reading might have sneaked as the full three points but the visitors will certainly feel the game. Reading's season has been inconsistant all term and this game felt the same with periods of Reading domination and some good attacking football followed by extended periods of disarray.
Reading had their youngsters to thank for earning a point. Michael Hector was superb in front of the back four and Jordan Obita was lively throughout. The Royals took the lead from a perfectly placed Obita free-kick on fifteen minutes. He floated it from the right to the far side of the box where Pearce rose to head it firmly back across goal and into the back of the net. Immediately after the goal Reading were actually on fire and looked like they might add a second and send themselves on their way. The passing was impressive and positive as Reading created some chances. Pogrebnyak might have earnt a penalty but one two many dramatic dives around the area probably pushed the referee the other direction and he emphatically waved play on when Pogrebnyak appeared genuinely look to have been taken down. Leicester might have already wrapped up promotion, and lost a bit of focus recently, but they still looked quality in parts and capable of scoring. A period of pressure ended with Drinkwater scoring after half an hour through a massive crowd of Reading players that left McCarthy unsighted and unable to make a safe.
McCarthy kept the scores level with a couple of good stops and racing off his line to prevent Leicester taking the lead at the start of the second half as the visitors started stronger. Good performances weren't consistant across the team. Bridge was disappointing as well as being often exposed he only seemed to be able to curve the ball out of play everytime he tried to play it out of defence. And then there was Jobi McAnuff. I like him and he's done some good things in a Reading shirt. But he will be the most disappointed with his game tonight. Nearly everything he did went wrong - even the simple things - and he spent most of the game looking annoyed at himself rather than fulfilling his captain's role. Nigel Adkins has had problems with unavailability of players and that was made worse by Williams going off injured to be replaced with Leigertwood. Leigertwood looked keen but didn't last long himself - quickly picking up two yellow cards as Reading finished with 10 men - and a single point that keeps the season alive.
This Championship game took place 2041 days ago in the 2013/2014 season.