Reading FC Match Report: 2016/2017 Season - Championship
READING 2 WOLVES 1
Reading: Y Kermorgant (48), P McShane (78)
Wolves: B Marshall (50)
After two successive away defeats, albeit against teams in the top three, Reading needed a win to restore confidence and keep their bid for a top six finish on track. Although they achieved a narrow victory it was a far from convincing win. Wolves, low on confidence, were happy to contain Reading without venturing forward with any real conviction for most of the first half. The second half proved to be more eventful and the outcome hung in the balance until Paul McShane headed home Swift's perfectly delivered free kick just over ten minutes from the end. Williamson's red card five minutes from time virtually extinguished any hope of Wolves snatching a point which they might justifiably claim they deserved.
With McCleary rested Popa started wide on the right and Van den Berg came back to anchor midfield after recovering from injury. It was a dull first half as Reading’s attempts to break down a well organised defence was far too slow and predictable. Apart comfortably gathering a long range free kick from Swift as half time approached Wolves ‘keeper Ikeme had very little to do. Al Habsi had to be on his toes as Wolves almost sneaked a goal at the near post from a corner. Wolves most likely source of a goal appeared to be capitalising on Reading’s unforced errors playing the ball out of their own half.
Wolves came out for the second half in a more positive frame of mind but fell behind to a somewhat fortunate goal for the Royals. Williams miscued a shot from outside the box but with Ikeme moving to his right to gather the ball Kermorgant stuck out a foot and diverted it into the net with the unfortunate Wolves 'keeper completely wrong –footed. The lead did not last long. Wolves broke down the right, Dicko crossed and Marshall somehow got in between McShane, Gunter and Al Habsi to slide the ball in from close range. It was a disappointing goal from Reading’s point of view given the apparent adequate numbers in the vicinity to deal with the danger.
Jaap Stam freshened up the attack bringing on Grabban and Meite to replace Popa and Beerens. Popa made a bright start but faded, and Beerens had been contained well by Iofa. Wolves continued to commit players forward and Al Habsi came the rescue with a fine save from Coady after Van den Berg was caught out by a hastily taken Reading free kick on the half way line allowing Wolves to steal the ball break quickly. With Wolves growing in confidence Al Habsi was called upon to make another good save from Saville. The Reading ‘keeper got to the ball smartly and crucially held on to the ball to prevent leaving any scraps for the Wolves forwards to pick up. Swift had an indifferent game, a couple of subtle touches here and there but little impact. He saved his best moment to set up what proved to be the winner for McShane. His free kick delivered with inviting precision into the gap between the back four and the ‘keeper. McShane gave it the finish it deserved with a well-placed header.
Grabban disappointed again. He had a fleeting chance to score but hesitated and was closed down, made wrong decisions when releasing the ball, and defensively he was liability. Three times in matter of minutes he allowed Iorfa to lay the ball to get behind him in to go clear of the Reading defence. With Blackett looking off the pace Reading’s right flank looked extremely vulnerable at times. With Wolves threating to grab an equaliser Kermorgant flicked the ball on and ran in to Williamson. Referee Madley ‘bought it’ and capped a poor display by sending the Wolves player off for a second yellow. Not that any Reading fans were complaining as it gave their team a slightly easier end to the game than they were expecting.
It was a crucial win as it looks like the best opportunity to pick up three points over this very tough run of games. There were times today when the defensive organisation went worryingly awry but thankfully McShane and Moore were right on top of their game and held it together. A lot rests on their shoulders next week when the Royals face perhaps their biggest test of the season – an in form Newcastle at home.
This Championship game took place 325 days ago in the 2016/2017 season.