Reading FC Match Report: 2014/2015 Season - Championship
SHEFF WED 1 READING 0
Sheff Wed: S May (83).
The Royals will leave Yorkshire disappointed to not be returning to Berkshire with at least a point. While they failed to create enough chances to have won the game, the defensive display was solid enough so full debutant Mikkel Anderson was rarely tested. A massive deflection from a harshly awarded free kick being enough to give Sheffield Wednesday the three points.
As the 500 Reading fans turned up at the historical Hillsborough ground they were greeted with the news that both Federici and Hector had joined the busy treatment room. The ongoing injury situation must surely raise further questions about the medical team and training methods currently deployed at the club.
Anderson and Cooper were awarded their first league debuts for Reading while Jamie Mackie was replaced by Jake Taylor. Nick Blackman switched to the right and Taylor took up his usual position on the left. Other that the team lined up as per the previous victory against a resilient Millwall.
A tough scrappy contest ensued. Both teams pressing the ball, forcing rushed inaccurate passes. Although Reading looked their most threatening throughout the game from set ball situations. A Norwood corner in the 2nd meeting flashed across the box with Cooper unable to fully connect.
Despite some dangerous running with the ball from the Sheffield Wednesday midfield and the busy Stevie May, they were restricted to some wayward shots from distance. Cooper and Pearce showed strength and commitment to thwart the Wednesday attacks. Cooper in particular showed great maturity on his league debut. A towering presence, calm on the ball with a positional sense over and above his experience.
In the 12th minute Pearce brought the Wednesday fans angrily to their feet as he appeared to block Stevie May’s run with his elbow. The block was unseen by the linesman and referee as the psychotic owl spectators in unison screamed for action against Pearce. A call that lit the fireworks for continual moaning from the Wednesday fans on every decision from the referee thereafter.
Reading should have been front in the 19th minute as Cox stole the ball in the Wednesday half. Following a driving run down the right he pushed the ball across to Murray, who should have done better as he could only steer the ball wide of the goal.
In the 30th minute a hopeful lofted ball from Akpan found Cox. Cox flicked a through ball for the on rushing Murray. Murray, clear, was bundled over from behind by Coke. The referee had no option but to point to the spot. In the commotion that followed the decision, it was disappointing to see Blackman and Murray fight over who should take the resulting penalty. A decision that surely should be made prior to the start of the match.
Westwood made a decision early and dived to the left as Murray stepped up. Murray uneasily drove the ball down the middle of the goal allowing Westwood a comfortable save with his feet.
The heated half played out with niggly free kicks awarded to both teams and little danger for either keeper. The second half followed the same trend as the first half. Some gritty Reading defending as the Wednesday midfielders tried to penetrate the Royals rear guard with driving runs. Reading, seriously lacking width as both Obita and Gunter found themselves pushed back, relying on set pieces for their attacking threat. A well worked Reading free kick in the 57th minute brought an unorthodox but effective save from Westwood as Cooper rose in the six yard box to head home.
Murray hit the bar from a 63rd minute corner after Norwood and Pearce combined from another dead ball scenario. Anderson spent most of his league debut demanding the ball from the ball boys and crowd as Wednesday continually drove their shots wide of the target.
Pogrebenak replaced the frustrated Murray in the 66th minute as Reading pushed for a winner. Soon after Reading had some sustained pressure as they forced four corners in quick succession but failed to create a goalscoring opportunity. Cox was replaced by Mackie in the 72nd minute.
Following a rare mistake by Cooper in the 75th minute May went over in the box looking for the penalty. To the disappointment of the Wednesday fans the referee wasn’t impressed and waved away their claims. Reading’s best chance of the half came in the 77th minute as a call from Adkins on the touchline demanded that Blackman had a shot from a free kick he had won just outside the Sheffield box. His freekick flew over the Wednesday wall and brought a quality save from the ex-Coventry keeper Westwood.
The defining moment of the game came in the 82nd minute as Cooper was adjudged to have handled the ball on the edge of the box when it appeared Cooper had been fouled. May, as he had all game, drove a ball that looked to be going harmlessly wide. Anderson was helpless as the shot took a wicked deflection off the feet of the Reading defence to divert the ball into the bottom corner.
The game played out at a frantic pace as Reading searched for an equaliser and Wednesday tried to find a second. Akpan was replaced by the injury returning Guthrie in the 87th minute. Try as they might Reading were unable to really threaten Westwood in the final minutes and the game disappointingly ended the recent Royals four game winning streak.
The game cemented Reading’s lack of width in the side. Despite the recent much cavorted Reading attacking prowess, Reading only really threatened from set pieces. However, there were enough positives from the game that suggest they will provide a competitive challenge in the Championship.
This Championship game took place 918 days ago in the 2014/2015 season.