Reading FC Match Report: 2013/2014 Season - Championship
READING 0 SHEFF WED 2
Sheff Wed: C Maguire (pen 10), B Afobe (58).
The Royals lost ground in their quest for a place in play-offs with a disappointing home defeat to a team they could, and should, have beaten. Reading made an awful start, and effectively lost the game in the opening ten minutes as Le Fondre and Pogrebnyak each missed a clear scoring opportunity, Pearce was sent off, and Wednesday took the lead through Maguire from the penalty spot. It was game which promised goals but was ruined by the early red card. Reading remained positive and Wednesday, wary of the threat carried by Reading’s attack, were content to sit back and began time-wasting almost as soon as they had taken the lead. It was only to be expected by a team hovering just above the relegation zone.
Reading started well, passing the ball confidently with L e Fondre and Pogrebnyak linking up well and dragging Wednesday’s centre backs all over the place. The visitors looked extremely vulnerable to anything played through the middle. In the third minute Le Fondre found himself clear of the defence but opted to take the ball round Kirkland and was dispossessed when an early strike would almost certainly have yielded a goal. A couple of minutes later from a very similar situation, although this time with a defender breathing down his neck, Pogrebnyak prodded the ball past the advancing Kirkland but the ball lacked sufficient pace to reach the empty net before it was cleared. Pearce was all a sea against a very lively Wednesday attack. His third blunder in as many minutes resulted in Ofobe getting past him in the box. It was hard to be sure what happened but Ofobe was in the clear, went down, and referee Hill gave a penalty to Wednesday and a red card to Pearce. Adkins said later he was going to appeal against the decision, and he may have case, but if I were him I would start planning how to reshuffle the defence for the next game. If I were Pearce I would plan not get so tight to a forward with Afobe’s pace in future.
To his credit Adkin’s made a positive decision in keeping Le Fondre and Pogrebnyak up front, relying on the energy of Williams, McAnuff, and Akpan to cope in midfield, dropping Mc Cleary to right back as Gunter took over from Pearce at centre back. Seemed a reasonable plan and Reading in spite of being a man short looked more likely to score. Not that Wednesday seemed too bothered about scoring. They were content to contain Reading and run the clock down by rolling around on the floor at the slightest hint of any physical contact. Referee Hill was taken in by it, accumulating five minutes of stoppage time instead of allowing the game to continue. McAnuff and Pogrebnyak came close to hitting the target and Wednesday hit the bar just before half time. The game was very much in the balance at the interval.
Wednesday brought on former Royal, Antonio, and came out looking for a second goal. McCleary completely misjudged the bounce and allowed Wednesday to outnumber Reading at the back leaving McCarthy to save superbly from an unmarked Antonio. Reading pressed for the equaliser but the killer blow came from a blunder by McCarthy of all people when he failed to hold on to a long range shot and Ofobe had the simple task of clipping the ball over the grounded ‘keeper. Blackman, Robson-Kanu, and Guthrie were brought on to revive Reading’s challenge but regrettably they played into Wednesday’s hands by resorting to pumping high balls to Pogrebnyak. Lack of width forced play into crowded areas and Guthrie began spraying square passes around. As weariness set in, it began to resemble a pre-Christmas Reading performance.
Given the circumstances, overall Reading gave a good account of themselves. I am sure the players will not dwell on this game too much. It was just one of those days. Next Sunday, with or without Pearce, I am confident Reading will perform well at Loftus Road.
This Championship game took place 1142 days ago in the 2013/2014 season.