Reading FC Match Report: 2014/2015 Season - Championship
READING 0 NOTTM FOREST 3
Nottm Forest: B Osborn (56), M Fryatt (70), G Gardner (80)
Two astonishing long range goals and a defensive blunder gave Forest a comfortable away win to boost their slim chances of reaching the paly-offs. Reading dominated the latter stages of the first half but were made to pay the price of failing to convert good chances into goals. The loyalty of the home fans is being tested to the limit with a run of three consecutive home defeats and no goals as the Royals slide ever closer to the relegation zone. Scoring has become a real problem, and with the defence leaking six goals in the last two games Steve Clarke must be wondering what to do next. Reading were stunned by Ben Osbourn’s superb curling strike from outside the box, and although they rallied briefly they seemed lack belief in their ability to come back.
Boosted by over 2000 Forest fans there was a decent crowd at the Madejski for the first time this month. Several players were recalled after the disastrous away performance earlier in the week and after a cagey opening twenty minutes, the home fans found their voice and Reading began to raise their game. The Forest defence found it hard to cope with Reading’s movement and passing. Gunter and McCleary were getting behind the Forest defence down the right and the chances came. McCleary found Cox at the far post but although he kept his volley down he did not strike it cleanly and it flew wide. On the half hour Gunter cut back a ball into the path of Cox but he miscued horribly and sent the ball high into Forest fans much to their delight. With hindsight a more controlled strike with the side of the foot might have been a better option. Cox then turned provider with a similar pass to Pogrebnyak who made a much better job of it only to see his effort blocked and deflected for a corner. Just before half time a deep cross the left found McCleary at the far post. His low shot was blocked but may have been going just wide anyway.
Having finished the half so strongly Reading fans had no reason to expect such a disappointing second half. Reading almost took the lead immediately when a Chalobah corner eluded everyone until Pogrebnyak poked it wide at the far post. Forest also came close to taking the lead a couple of minutes later when Fryatt’s subtle flicked header was saved brilliantly by Federici with an acrobatic leap as it dipped under the bar. Then out of the blue, a loose ball ran to Osbourn who curled it superbly into the top corner giving Federici no chance. Reading might have equalised almost immediately but no one reacted to Gunter’s cross which slid across the box needing only a touch to convert it into a goal. Fryatt killed the game off midway through the half when he took on Pearce, who obligingly sat down, while he lashed the ball past a helpless Federici from close range. Reading’s unconvincing attempts to get back into contention were finally rendered meaningless when Gardner unleashed an outstanding strike from at least thirty-five yards. Federici a little too far off his line to do anything about it as the ball flashed in to the net off the underside of the bar. Reading were denied a consolation goal when Darlow saved from Chalobah at full stretch when he was set up by Yakubu. It was certainly Forest’s day.
It felt as if it was business as usual at the Madejski Stadium this afternoon as Steve Clarke reverted to his favourite starting eleven - but again saw them lose at home without scoring. Reading's home form is now atrocious after they have failed to score in three consecutive home defeats. It was Reading's second straight 0-3 reverse and saw the hard work of some recent away wins undone as the Royals slipped back to 18th in the table.
After the poor showing at Huddersfield in mid-week Clarke thought it best to shuffle the team around once more and recall his preferred starting eleven. That saw Cox and Pogrebnyak back up front with McCleary and Robson-Kanu back wide. Chalobah and Williams were in midfield and Chris Gunter returned at right back, after recovering from injury, to force Kelly onto the subs bench. Jake Taylor and Hope Akpan who both started on Tuesday night weren't even on the bench, and Yakubu was back to his role of coming on with twenty minutes left to play.
Visitors Nottingham Forest were probably worthy winners in the end but there was plenty of familiarity in the way the game went. Reading had the better of the first half and looked well placed for the second half, but then went a goal down not long after the break after a goal from nothing caught Federici off guard. They never really recovered from that goal and Forest were able to make the most of another defensive mistake and another error in placement from Federici to wrap up a win that, in the end, was straight forward. Forest's first and third strikes were spectacular long range screamers that flew into the roof of the net but Federici will surely feel disappointed not to have done better with such long range shots.
The first half had been much brighter. The atmosphere was much improved - helped in the North East corner by some bizarre stewarding targeting two fans for simply occasionally standing up, singing, and trying to enjoy themselves. The incident provoked a reaction from the fans as the stewards backed down and the resulting atmosphere was unusually good for this part of the ground. Reading had a few chances down the other end and won a couple of corners. From one corner Pogrebnyak headed just over. Simon Cox had chances after breaking into the area but his shots failed to find the target. Gareth McCleary was having a good game with some fast forward runs littered with step overs that looked like they might create some openings.
All that promise quickly faded in the second half. Federici made an excellent save before the mistakes returned for Reading. Reading still had the better of the possession but went from being in control to chasing a game they looked unlikely to get back into. Pogrebnyak found the side netting and had one decent effort saved, but Reading's shots were severely restricted.
Forest were excellent in defence and Reading found a packed area with no way through. Several attacks broke down as they were forced to put the ball out wide again with no options in the middle. Forest made it look easy down the other end and after their first it really felt as if the result was never in doubt. It does look like yet more changes are required to give Reading a chance of picking up what are quickly becoming vital league points. Bolton are the next trip for Reading on Tuesday night and it's very difficult to imagine us picking up points before what could be further embarrassment at Bradford next weekend.
This Championship game took place 1744 days ago in the 2014/2015 season.