Reading FC Match Report: 2015/2016 Season - Championship


READING 1 HULL 2

Reading: J Cooper (4)
Hull: A Hernandez (18), A Robertson (79)

The Royals slumped to their fourth consecutive defeat against promotion chasing Hull City leaving Brian MCDermott with the unenviable task of trying to motivate a squad containing a high proportion of loan signings through the final three games of a now meaningless season. There was little incentive for the players to raise their game, and judging by the extremely poor attendance, little incentive for the home fans to turn up to watch their team. Even a bright start, including an early goal from Jake Cooper in the fourth minute, failed to lift the mood of the crowd. Reading dominated possession but two defensive lapses allowed City to come back and snatch victory with a late Robertson goal.

With injuries and suspension weakening the squad Reading played with Rakkels, Vydra and Cox up the middle, Hector in front of the back four, and Norwood and Quinn playing wide in midfield. The formation showed promise initially but once again a lack of width made it easier for the visitors to stifle Reading’s attempts to penetrate their defence. Passing through the congestion around the edge of the box requires a precision of passing and movement Reading were unable to achieve. Cox and Hector threatened to weave their way through but were crowded out and were unable to test the ‘keeper. Reading took the lead from a good delivery by Norwood from the left wing which was nodded in by Cooper. Cooper’s ability in the air was a real asset defensively throughout, but his lack of pace was exposed soon after when a long ball from Huddleston dropped into the space behind the back four. Maybe Al Habsi could have off his line quicker but certainly Hernandez easily outpaced Cooper to tuck away the equaliser.

Reading worked hard to re-establish their lead and Norwood came close with great strike from the edge of the box which was well saved by McGregor. Hector and Norwood kept Hull in check with some robust but fair tackles which Huddlestone in particular did not enjoy and made his feelings known to the referee. Reading might have re-taken the lead when City almost conceded a comical own goal when a clearance rebounded of a City defender and flew past the post for a corner.

Reading came out looking for a second goal after half time with renewed enthusiasm but at times were slow to break out of defence and once again a lack of width forced the player on the ball to play backwards or sideways. Ten minutes into second half the referee lost the plot. Rakkels went down under a heavy challenge in the box and after a lengthy delay he pointed to the spot. As Norwood prepared to take to kick the referee consulted his assistant and then awarded a corner. I suspect the penalty was initially awarded due to the referee misinterpreting his assistants signal. Either way it was a shambles but it did finally get the crowd going – briefly.

Neither side looked likely to score the crucial second goal even when Kermorgant and John replaced Vydra and Cox. Kermorgant won just about every ball in the air including a decent header on target from McCleary’s cross. John was, once again very disappointing as he roamed across the pitch having very little impact. Hull scored the winner courtesy of some sloppy defensive work from Reading about ten from the end. McCleary had a decent game at full back but naively he allowed Robertson to cut inside to run at the Reading defence. Sadly for Reading nobody took responsibility for blocking his route to goal and he accepted the invitation to shoot from the edge of the box and drilled it low past an justifiably incensed Al Habsi. Reading did not look likely to find a way through the City defence and Cooper was lucky not to see red when, as last defender, he brought down substitute Akpon. In keeping with his poor performance the referee waved play on as Steve Bruce waved his arms in disbelief.

On the basis of this evenings game Reading fans might be wondering why their team has not reached the play-offs when the likes of Hull City have. I suppose conceding soft goals late in the game and forwards not taking their chances might have a lot to do with it. Let’s hope Brian McDermott will be given the resources to begin building his own squad this summer.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 525 days ago in the 2015/2016 season.