Reading FC Match Report: 2015/2016 Season - Championship


READING 2 FULHAM 2

Reading: H Robson-Kanu (pen 24) , H Robson-Kanu (41)
Fulham: M Dembele (8), R McCormack (pen 52)

A goal of the highest quality illuminated an otherwise mediocre first half to give Reading a lead which had looked unlikely for most of the first half. After the interval the Royals seemed more than capable of finishing off a Fulham side struggling at the foot of the table, but let the visitors back into the game conceding a penalty early in the second half after coming close to extending their lead through Kermorgant. Fulham were happy to play for draw and Reading seemed unable to gather sufficient momentum to pierce their defence. Perhaps pre-occupied with the impending FA Cup Quarter-Final, this performance fell well below the level achieved in their recent good run of results.

Without having to try particularly hard Fulham pinned Reading in their own half for most of the opening fifteen minutes taking advantage of some lethargic defending from a corner to go in front through Dembele after eight minutes. The ball was delivered to the far post and when the ball was headed back into the goalmouth the Royals defence froze collectively allowing an unmarked Dembele to prod past Al Habsi from close range. The Reading defence looked worryingly short of pace generally but Hendricks was going past Obita with every time he received the ball. Reading slowly roused themselves from their slumber and began to get the ball to John on the left and Robson-Kanu on the left. The equaliser was provided by a moment of madness from Amorbieta who unaccountably flattened Robson-Kanu in the box as he chased down a ball running harmlessly away from goal. Robson-Kanu confidently sent Lonergan the wrong way and rolled the ball into the corner. Back on level terms, Reading were still unable to impose themselves on Fulham. Al Habsi surprisingly spilled a long range effort from a free kick. The referee, irritatingly for Fulham, manged to get caught up in the play twice giving Reading possession when they were building an attack.

Four minutes from half time Reading took the lead with a fine goal. Hector slid the ball through the Fulham defence to find John who timed his run to perfection and clipped the ball over the advancing Longran leaving Robson-Kanu the simple task of nodding the ball into the unguarded net. It then became apparent why Fulham have lost so frequently this season. Their defence suddenly looked fragile and made several unforced errors as Reading raised their game.

Robson-Kanu, having picked up an injury just before the break, did not re-appear for the second half being replaced by McCleary on the right. Reading almost scoring immediately. Norwood’s superb chip found Kermorgant who collected the pass with a perfect first touch and held off a strong challenge before getting his shot away which flew just wide of the far post. The approach work deserved a better reward. Reading looked likely to kill the game off early in the half dominating possession but it was not to be. After fifty-two minutes Fulham levelled the scores. Obita was caught upfield as Fredericks picked up the ball just inside the Reading half. Obita had not been able to get near him all afternoon and immediately delegated the responsibility to Cooper who was slightly better placed to halt his run. Obita could have possibly got back to help Cooper out but chose instea to point and shout instructions at Cooper. Fredericks however was now in full flight and Cooper never looked likely to stop him and resorted to bringing him down clumsily in the box. McCormack tucked his penalty away convincingly. Fulham showed little ambition after that and Reading made increasingly laboured attempts to break them down.

Good chances came from crosses from Norwood and John, but Cooper, Rakels and John all mistimed their leap and were unable to direct their header with sufficient power to trouble Lonergan. Reading’s cause was not helped by McCleary wandering all over the pitch often leaving Gunter as the only outlet on the right. He was nowhere near as effective as Robson-Kanu. As for the other substitute, Rakels, he would have been more effective if he had stayed upright instead of throwing himself to the ground whenever a Fulham player came near him. Hector again stood out. I lost count of the times he won the ball and he made two full-blooded tackles in the centre of the pitch which were quite remarkable for their timing and sheer power. It is a pity for Reading he was not playing in his current position from the beginning of the season.

Fulham will be satisfied with their afternoon’s work but suspect they have underachieved this season. Reading could and should have taken all three points. Reading now have a tricky week ahead focusing on a big Cup game on Friday and long trip to Huddersfield for an unwanted league fixture on Tuesday.

The Royals will raise their game against Palace and they clearly have a chance with home advantage but I fear for Gunter and Obita with Bolasie and Saha bearing down on them on Friday evening.
John Wells

This Championship game took place 570 days ago in the 2015/2016 season.