Reading FC Match Report: 2017/2018 Season - Championship
READING 1 HULL 1
Reading: J Bodvarsson (87)
Hull: F Campbell (28)
Reading seemed destined to succumb to a third successive home defeat without scoring until Jon Dadi Bodvarsson came off the bench to salvage a point with a superb late strike, and had Liam Moore made better contact with the last kick of the match, would have taken all three points. It was however not a Reading performance worthy of a victory in spite of a staggering seventy-four percent possession. In fact Tomori came close to wrapping the game up immediately before Bovarsson’s equaliser running through Reading’s defence with relative ease before dragging his shot wide. A draw was fair result mainly because neither side played well enough to deserve to win.
Hull, clearly low on confidence, sat back and allowed Reading to attack but Reading’s passing and movement was sluggish to say the least. It was an extremely dull first half which saw City take the lead with an incredibly simple goal. Larsson rolled a ball into the space behind a flat-footed Reading back four for Campbell to amble through and slide the ball past the advancing Manone. Remarkably Reading started without a recognised striker relying on McCleary to lead the attack and with Beerens and Aluko providing width in attack. It was not a set-up which suited the players. Hull ‘keeper McGregor had very little to do. Reading’s crosses were generally poor, but when they were delivered into the right area nobody seemed willing or able to attack the ball. In a rare passage of incisive play Beerens found Aluko at the far post but he was unable to get sufficient contact to guide it into the net. Possession was squandered with poor passing and the build-up was laboriously slow and predictable. It was in short simply boring.
The second half had a bit more spark but it was Hull that came closest to scoring in the fifty-fifth minute when Larsson rattled the crossbar from a free kick just outside the box. There was some concern a few minutes later when Larsson was given another opportunity from a similar position. This time Manone manged to gather his deflected free kick. Frustration began to grow amongst the crowd although the home fans tried at times to rouse their team. Frustration was evident within the team as Aluko could not disguise his feelings when Obita was too slow to reach or react to his well weighted pass inside the full back. Moore was also showing signs of frustration with the lack of intensity form the play in midfield. Jaap Stam puzzled and angered the Reading fans by replacing Kelly with Ilori. His intention was to allow Van den Berg to play in centre midfield. Ilori actually made a significant contribution breaking up Hull counter attacks and getting the ball moving forward with purpose.
With fourteen minutes remaining Stam made his final change replacing Gunter with Bodvarsson. McCleary went to right back to accommodate the change where he looked far more at ease than as a central striker. Almost immediately he fired in a decent strike from outside the box which flashed just wide. The introduction of Bodvarsson transformed Reading’s attack. The Icelandic forward received an enthusiastic response from the home crowd for his effort and willingness to exert pressure on the City back four. Finally there was a focal point for the attack. He competed for high balls, held the ball up (his touch was excellent) and linked up well with Aluko to score with a fine strike, low and hard from outside the box which nestled just inside the far post. Stam was full of praise for his front man after the game which will have repaired his damaged confidence after missing two sitters in his last home appearance. It does beg the question however why, as the only recognised striker in the squad, did he not start the game!
The late goal sent the fans home in a more positive mood but Jaap Stam's post-match interview ruffled a few feathers. It was probably not the best forum for his candid opinion of the fans negative reaction during the game. He is of course right to point out that booing your own team is not good for morale but he would have been wise to deliver the message in a slightly more subtle choice of words. As for declaring his team will not win the league, no one wants to hear that even if it is true. After all it is early days yet and promotion is the goal not winning the league. Hopefully all will be forgiven before next Saturday. Reading are going through a transition and the fans do have a part to play.
This Championship game took place 365 days ago in the 2017/2018 season.