Reading FC Match Report: 2014/2015 Season - Championship
READING 0 WIGAN 1
Wigan: J Pearce (17).
A scrappy goal from a corner gave struggling Wigan their fifth league win of the season as Reading’s home from continues to decline. This was surely one of the poorest performances from the Royals for a very long time time. Steve Clarke was brutally honest and accurate in his post-match summary. In his interview he revealed he was ‘embarrassed to be a coach of a team that plays like that’. It was, as he put it so succinctly, ‘rubbish’. It was certainly an evening to forget as even more fans than usual stayed away making a mockery of the official attendance of over 14,000. Those that did make the effort sat in silence as their team failed to create any clear scoring opportunities against one of the poorest teams in the league. The manager accepted his responsibility for the poor performance but no matter how well prepared his team is, there is little he can do when his players make poor decisions all over the pitch throughout the game.
After fifteen minutes of scrappy play a poorly judged back pass to Federici put him under pressure and he lost possession to Leon Clarke in the penalty area and almost conceded. With the help of Pearce he managed to clear the ball. It was only a brief reprieve as Wigan opened the scoring from the resulting corner. Federici failed to gather the ball and Jason Pearce forced the ball over the line from close range. Robson-Kanu had a chance to equalise almost immediately when he pounced on Al Habsi’s poor clearance just outside the box, but his shot was blocked by a Wigan defender as the Wigan ‘keeper scrambled back into position. A McCleary effort was deflected just wide as Reading pressed to find an equaliser. Once again Reading suffered from a lack of width as McCleary frequently drifted inside to the congested area in the middle. Kelly did his best to compensate but found he was caught out of position on more than one occasion when the attack broke down. Pogrebnyak battled as he always does but appeared intent on turning into trouble and losing possession ignoring the option of a simple short pass to keep the move alive. Cholobah filled in for the injured Hector at centre back, and although he won his share of balls in the air his distribution was appalling all evening. It seemed a strange choice with Cooper, a tried and tested centre back, on the bench. The collision between Williams and Pearce attempting to head the same ball epitomised the lack of understanding and communication which blighted the performance. Boos rang out at half time to break the silence which had engulfed the stadium for most of the half.
Reading rallied briefly at the beginning of the second half and threatened to mount a period of pressure. Chalobah headed narrowly wide from a rare good corner to the far post. A minute later Robson-Kanu was slightly less accurate with a header. Wigan had been deliberately wasting time form early in the game. A genuine injury to Herd on fifty four minutes lead to a long stoppage to further disrupt play. As the game wore on Reading began hoofing the ball forward aimlessly which invariably was dealt with comfortably by Wigan’s back four. The Royals found themselves pinned in their own half due to their inability or unwillingness to pass the ball through midfield. Often the player in possession had no passing option which made it very difficult to build any kind of attacking momentum. Yakubu and Blackman replaced Cox and Robson-Kanu, and although Yakubu demonstrated again his good touch Wigan’s goal was not threatened. Once again Blackman roamed freely and the lack of width and once again became a problem, this time on the left. A rare moment of quality saw Norwood ping a diagonal ball onto Blackman’s chest behind the Wigan defence only to see the chance snuffed out by an outstanding last ditch challenge.
Wigan’s most significant contribution was the most shameful exhibition of time-wasting I have seem for a long time resulting in an unprecedented eleven minutes of stoppage time being added. Over half their team were shown the yellow card and it should have been more. Hand ball is usually an automatic yellow but referee Simon Hooper’s poor performance was in keeping with the quality of the match overall. He allowed both teams to stand about five yards from the ball at free kicks and booked Pearce, one of the few Reading players to have a reasonable game, for winning the ball cleanly and fairly.
It is going to be difficult to sell season tickets next season judging by the number of empty seats recent home games, but I was relieved to hear Steve Clarke was angry about the team’s performance tonight. I share his anger and hope he can harness that energy shake of the malaise which seems to affect his team at home. I am sure he will do his utmost to improve things with the squad he has to work with at the moment but I suspect he will be wanting to move a few players out at the end of the season. It is now abundantly clear the current squad is not capable of promotion this season, or next for that matter.
This Championship game took place 831 days ago in the 2014/2015 season.