Reading FC Match Report: 2016/2017 Season - Championship


Reading: G McCleary (10), C Gunter (62)
Nottm Forest: --

As so often happens in football, two former Forest players produced the goals which extended their recent poor run of results. Reading will be delighted with a win and a clean sheet which has lifted them in to fifth spot although Jaap Stam was quick to put the situation into perspective with his post-match analysis. In a fine example of hitting the nail on the head he reflected "... We also gave away possession far too easily, our first touch was not good enough and our passing was not accurate enough..." Quite clearly Stam does not want to raise expectations too high too soon in spite of a second successive victory. Although the Royals won comfortably in the end, it was a far from convincing performance and only achieved courtesy of some excellent goalkeeping from Al Habsi and some inept finishing from the visitors.

Reading made a good start in spite of some sloppy passing in the opening exchanges. Swift picked up a ball outside the box and lashed a great dipping strike which Stojkovic did well to block, but he stood no chance with McCleary’s finish from the rebound which was struck sweetly into the corner past the grounded ‘keeper. Instead of capitalising on the advantage Reading looked strangely lethargic and were let off when Kasami headed tamely at Al Habsi with the goal at his mercy. As always Reading enjoyed a plot of possession without working the goalkeeper. The game was punctuated with a succession of petty fouls. Moore was unlucky to receive a yellow due mainly to the unwarranted loud squeal from Kasami on contact. Lansbury had far too much to say for himself and seemed intent on winding everyone up. Chances came as the half progressed. A Kermogant volley was headed away and Williams hit a shot which was well saved one-handed by Stojkovic. Al Habsi made a string of saves notably one from Lichaj at full stretch. The Reading ‘keeper deserves credit for preserving Reading’s lead but he could have relieved the pressure a little if he had elected to catch some of the high balls instead of flapping at them.

Lansbury finally received the yellow card he deserved and then succeeded in provoking Van den Berg into joining him in the book. Stam wasted no time in replacing him with Evans thereby removing the risk of a red card although Lansbury can count himself lucky to stay on the pitch for his reaction when Van den Berg grabbed him. Stam denied this was the reason for the change. Either way Evans came on and did a very good job all round in his place. The game hung in the balance as Forest increasingly denied Reading time and space on the ball in their own half forcing more long balls from the back four. The second and crucial goal was well timed and came from the most unlikely source. I would certainly not advocate Gunter getting into the opponents box but I was proved wrong as the Welsh full back produced a finish of the highest quality which leaves me wondering why everyone else seems to find it so difficult. There was a slightly anxious moment when referee Davies hastily awarded a penalty when the ever irritating Lansbury took a tumble just outside the box. Thankfully Davies redeemed himself by keeping calm and after consulting his assistant correctly awarded a free kick just outside the box which came to nothing.

The two goal cushion was clearly going to be sufficient to see Reading claim their second successive victory and consolidate their position in the top half of the league. Forest were missing several players through injury and suspension but their fans were generally disgruntled and expect better things. At one point they were even fighting amongst themselves. Reading continue to plod forward without producing the sort of display which hints at promotion but they are certainly in better shape than many teams in this league at the moment. I am encouraged by the way Jaap Stam continues to maintain his high expectations of the way his team plays and is committed to ensuring his players learn and develop. Given time I believe he will succeed. A bit of extra cash might come in handy too!  
John Wells  

This Championship game took place 1135 days ago in the 2016/2017 season.