Reading FC Match Report: 2015/2016 Season - Championship
READING 2 HUDDERSFIELD 2
Reading: O Norwood (15), O John (84).
Huddersfield: J Paterson (2), N Wells (26).
For the second time in four days Reading had to settle for a point at home, but on this occasion it was very much a case of two points dropped rather a point gained. In a game they should have won, second half substitute Ola John rescued Reading with a well taken late equaliser after Reading had fallen behind twice in the first half with some very sloppy defensive play.
Reading surrendered the initiative early in the game when Obita gave the ball away with a careless pass and were punished by a clinical finish by Paterson. Al Habsi then had to make a good save from Patterson to prevent Huddersfield from taking a two goal lead as the newly formed back four looked distinctly edgy.
Urged on by their fans Reading pressed forward and were soon back on level terms when Norwood surprised everyone, possibly including himself, by whipping in a free kick from a wide position which squirmed past Steer inside the near post. The goal should have provided a platform for the Royals to push on for a much needed three points but it was not to be. Hesitancy amongst the back four, waiting for an offside flag which never came, allowed Wells to nip in the score a second goal for the visitors. I suspect Obita was playing the Town forward onside when everyone else had stepped up. Obita’s defending was poor on his last appearance at Fulham and he was equally poor defensively again this evening in the first half. To rub salt into he wound the Huddersfield celebrated the goal and then as Reading prepared for the re-start they all decided to decided leave the pitch for some refreshments and a chat with the coaching staff on the half way line.
It was the first sign of referee Malone beginning to lose his grip on the game. Obita going forward was a very different proposition. He suddenly seems to have found a burst of speed which took past defenders enabling him to produce good balls into the box.
It was overall a frustrating first half for Reading. Huddersfield got behind the ball and Reading forced to pass the ball back and sideways with monotonous regularity. When they did try to pick their way through the congested area around the edge of the penalty area, the passing and touch was simply not good enough. Blackman threatened to create something beating players and passing the ball well but invariably he was marked by two or three Town defenders.
Honest and accurate, as always, in his post-match interview Steve Clarke explained his reasons for making changes to team for this game and admitted he may have made a mistake with his selection. He certainly put it right with his second half substitutions. Fernandez, Sa and John replaced McCleary, Williams and Piazon, the three least effective players from the first half and the team was transformed. It may have taken until the eighty-fourth minute to finally level the scores but it was a well-deserved reward. Fernandez passed the ball really well and sent a long range shot just over the bar, Sa gave the attack a focus and when John came on he was clearly intent on scoring his first goal for the club. McShane was showing real leadership winning headers, driving forward and winning tackles in the visitors half of the pitch. Had referee Malone given what looked a clear cut penalty early in the second half when Vydra was brought down from behind, Reading may well have gone on to win, but it was just one of several poor decisions.
On one occasion he unbelievably blew his whistle (he seemed surprised to hear it too!) when Reading were attacking because a Town player was about to enter the field of play without permission. (This is a bookable offence anyway. The player was dabbing an open wound with a dressing so probably should not have been allowed back on anyway!) He then re-started with a drop ball giving Town the chance regain possession. Town barely got out of their own half and the only concern for the Reading defence was when Al Habsi dropped a high ball under pressure. For second game running Reading frustratingly ran out of time to score a winning goal.
I am sure Steve Clarke will be his selection great deal of thought over the next couple of days, but he could do a lot worse than to start with the eleven who finished the game this evening.
This Championship game took place 537 days ago in the 2015/2016 season.