Reading FC Match Report: 2013/2014 Season - Championship
READING 1 WIGAN 2
Reading: P Pogrebnyak (68).
Wigan: C McCann (10), N Powell (12).
Reading raised their in game in the second half and came close to salvaging a point following an appalling first half performance in which they conceded two soft goals in the first eleven minutes. The revival should have got under way after fifty one minutes when Gunter was pulled back in the box, but Sharp blasted the spot kick in to the crowd. Minutes later he was given the opportunity to make amends, but with only Al Habsi to beat, made a hash of that too. With just over half an hour left on the clock Pogrebnyak headed in a Guthrie cross, but it was not enough, as Wigan hung on desperately to their lead to record a rare away win.
As in recent home performances Reading seemed to lack urgency and penetration from the start. Wigan pressed and Reading passed backwards and sideways often resorting a hopeful punt upfield from Gorkss or Pearce in a vain attempt to bring Sharp and Pogrebnyak in to the game. Wigan scored after ten minutes. The Reading back four looked very uncomfortable as Wigan broke quickly and ran at them. Backpedalling furiously, they managed to block McClean’s initial attempt, but he when he picked out McCann on the edge of the box, his composed finish put the visitors ahead. Two minutes later Pearce lost his bearings completely and failed to make a routine clearance. Powell took full advantage. We had to wait nearly thirty minutes for Reading’s first strike on goal. Al Habsi saved well from Pogrebnyak after the Russian had made room for a shot just inside the box. Sharp also managed a strike on goal soon afterwards but his shot was deflected wide. Reading seemed to lose their shape defensively as Wigan found space in the centre of the pitch. Williams in particular seemed to be unsure of his defensive duties. The half time whistle was greeted by an understandable but unforgiveable chorus of boos.
Signalling his intent, Adkins replaced Cummings with Obita. In principle a good idea, but Obita is not really ready to cope with responsibility of playing as an attacking full back. He looked nervous and was not effective the role. With nothing to lose Reading attacked with greater conviction but it clearly was not going to be their day when Sharp failed to even hit the target from the penalty spot after good passing had put Guthrie clean through only to be halted by a foul inside the box. Encouraged by the lack of discipline throughout the team, which ultimately resulted in five yellow cards, Reading pressed forward. Un fortunately the next clear cut chance also fell to Sharp who was not having a great day and his tame effort was at a nice height and pace for Al Habsi to block. McCleary came on for Pearce and Gunter moved into the middle and Reading were now clearly throwing caution to the wind. McCleary’s pace created havoc on the right wing which is where Guthrie’s curling cross came from for Pogrebnyak’s well placed header to reduce Wigan’s lead. There was time for the equaliser and Wigan were clearly rattled. Rash challenges and time-wasting tactics brought a succession of yellow cards.
The game was now fast and open with Wigan always looking likely to break out of their defensive shell and score. McCarthy saved twice with his legs. Even with the six minutes added for stoppages, and Le Fondre added to the strike force, Reading could not find the crucial second goal. There were good performances, particularly in the in the second half, from Pogrebnyak (who suddenly started winning the ball in the air), Gorkss, and McAnuff. Drenthe’s attitude and work rate was also commendable throughout. He looked like he wanted to make things happen.
Nigel Adkins spoke after the game of playing in a manner suited to the Premier League, which is all very well if you have the players to make it work. Right now Reading are in the Championship and a more direct approach might pay dividends as it clearly did in the second half today.
This Championship game took place 2039 days ago in the 2013/2014 season.