Reading FC Match Report: 2014/2015 Season - Championship


Reading: O Norwood (87).
Rotherham: M Derbyshire (52), L Frecklington (58).

Reading FC crumbled in a pathetic 2-1 defeat against fellow league strugglers Rotherham United. A gutless performance was little reward for the travelling 210 Royals fans, many leaving bewildered about the future of the side.

Steve Clarke mixed things up following the Brentford defeat. Mikkel Anderson making a rare start in goal, with Stephen Kelly and Jake Cooper coming into the side to form a back three partnership with Michael Hector. Jem ‘Pirlo’ Karacan returned as captain with the ‘odd couple’ pairing of Pogrebnyak and Cox returning up front.

It was obvious from the kick off that these were two poor sides. Rotherham unable to capitalise on the acres of space behind the Reading wing backs Obita and Gunter, and Reading unable to string more than 3 passes together. Neither side looking to have the guile or ability to break down the opposition. Some overzealous challenges, particularly from Gunter and Cox, the only early action to bring the crowd to their feet.

A Pogrebnyak shot in the side netting the only movement of note from the Royals in the first half that was worth clapping. Considering this was maybe the last chance saloon for some players, notably Cox and Norwood, to convince Steve Clarke that they had a future at the club Reading lacked energy and commitment. This group of players should have been competitive against a lowly Rotherham side, the fact they weren’t is more worrying about Clarke’s ability than the teams. As the half progressed Rotherham started to break down the Royals defence. Derbyshire smashing a chance over the top in 40th minute when well placed. A Frecklington volley spinning off Anderson’s punch and wide of the post in the 43rd minute.

As Reading started the second half they showed more intent with the ball, however, as with a number of games this year they were unable to turn possession into anything positive. Despite Reading having most of the play, it was Rotherham who took the lead in the 52nd minute.

Stephen Kelly failed to press Danny Ward quickly enough when he received the ball out wide. His cross looked to be harmlessly going in the arms of Anderson when somehow Derbyshire was allowed to pounce on the cross and turn it into the net. A desperate goal to concede for a team lacking in desire and spirit. As has been the case all season, the goal did little to inspire the Royals into life. They rolled over in fact, and allowed Rotherham a second in the 58th minute which effectively ended the contest. Ward was again allowed the time to cross from the left and Frecklington turned the ball home at the far post. It was a double blow against a Royals team that already looked down and out.

A Norwood shot in the 79 minutes was the catalyst for an improved final ten minutes from the Royals. It was also brought the chant of the match with 200 Reading fans celebrating the attempt with a chant of ‘How shit must you be, we’ve just had a shot’.

It was Norwood driving home from 25 yards as the game went into injury time that brought Reading’s first league goal for 400+ minutes. It brought a nervy few minutes for the Rotherham fans. In fact, McCleary should have snatched a draw when a cross flashed in front the goal and the on rushing McCleary swung and miss.

Without doubt this defeat is the lowest point of a disappointing season. Gradually team performances have got worse, first under Adkins, now under Clarke. Clarke and the players all need to take a collective responsibility for the position we are now in. Reading FC look cannon fodder in a relegation battle next season and it’s difficult to see how it will be any different. There will be little money to spend and history dictates teams that try and rebuild quickly often end up in a worse state than when they started. This squad of players should be competitive at this level, they are not and a lack of leadership on the pitch appears to be mirrored with a lack of inspiration off the pitch.

You feel Clarke has clung onto his role due to the fact he believes this isn’t his team. His talks afterwards full of criticism about a lack of desire and a team in decline. Well now is the time for the talking to stop and for Clarke to deliver. It is his team and whilst I like his honesty, it would be nice to feel there was some positive foundations on which this team can be rebuilt. At the moment it’s difficult to see and maybe Reading FC will struggle further before the benefit of the academy bears fruit.
Dave Roberts

This Championship game took place 1858 days ago in the 2014/2015 season.