Reading FC Match Report: 2016/2017 Season - Championship
READING 0 BARNSLEY 0
A well organised and determined Barnsley side held on for a point in a match dominated by the Royals. Reading huffed and puffed but failed to make the most of some promising situations while the visitors defended resolutely and looked very dangerous on the break. In fact it was Barnsley who came closest to breaking the deadlock when Watkins hit the post on sixty four minutes. Reading however came close to snatching victory in stoppage time when Williams fiercely stuck shot from the edge of the box was diverted over by ‘keeper Davies. Reading started with new signings Oxford, Grabban and Popa in the bench. Swift was also left out, although I am sure he will be back for the home game against Brentford on Tuesday. Stam likes to rotate his squad and keep everyone guessing with his selection.
It was clear from the outset that Barnsley’s game plan varied little from most visitors to the Madejski Stadium this season. With two towering and effective centre backs in Roberts and Donaldson and a well organised midfield Barnsley provided stubborn resistance for the Royals. Much of the early attacking play came down Reading’s left flank through Obita and Beerens who between them made space to put numerous ball into the box. Reading’s first sight of goal came from a clever ball from McCleary into Kelly inside the penalty area but he was quickly closed down and his shot was blocked. On the whole it was a half of wayward long range efforts and a lack of penetration from either side where it really mattered. Barnsley were quick on the break, and when Obita dallied and was dispossessed just inside Barnsley’s half, Reading were rescued by Blackett’s pace and determination to get back and snuff out the danger. In contrast Reading were positively sluggish on the counter attack, which had Jaap Stam demonstrably urging his team forward with greater urgency.
The second half was more eventful as Barnsley took the game to Reading as they grew in confidence, particularly in the opening minutes of the half. With Kelly replaced by Grabban it was clear Stam was hoping to pose more of a threat in front of goal. With Evans dropping deeper in between Moore and Blackett, Obita and Gunter were given even more licence to join the attack. Gunter certainly was far more involved after the interval, producing good crosses and getting into Barnsley’s penalty area. Unfortunately when he was found in space with a sight of goal by great pass from McCleary he fluffed his lines spectacularly. Undeterred he found himself in on goal and there were calls, with some justification, for a penalty as he was bundled over. Some reckless challenges from Reading defenders on the half way line resulted in Hammil bearing down on Al Habsi unopposed; and he really should have put Barnsley ahead but his shot was a woeful as so many that had gone before. Kermorgant struck a shot sweetly but straight at Davies and the usual flurry of late substitutions had little or no impact on the game which looked destined to be goalless long before the final whistle.
It was frustrating for the home fans to watch at times, but Reading did look like a team pressing for promotion. They struggled in front of goal today, but looked very solid at the back with everyone doing their defensive job effectively throughout the team. They may not have done enough to win but they certainly looked as if they wanted to. Apart from the occasional Al Habsi howler Reading look much more comfortable in possession than earlier in the season. It was good team performance but Blackett stood out today with some excellent defending and distribution.
This Championship game took place 136 days ago in the 2016/2017 season.