Reading FC Match Report: 2015/2016 Season - Championship
READING 0 MK DONS 0
MK Dons: --
Reading fans had to endure another frustrating afternoon at the Madejski Stadium as they saw their team dominate a recently promoted side of limited ability but fail to find that crucial goal to chalk their much needed first league win of the season. Steve Clarke opted for a slightly more adventurous 4 – 4 - 2 formation pushing Robson-Kanu further forward to support Sa who has looked isolated in recent games. In terms of chances created it proved more successful than formation employed in the previous goalless home draw against Leeds, but weak finishing was the telling factor once again. Quinn and Robson-Kanu spurned good opportunities in the first half as did Norwood and Tshibola in the second as Reading did everything right apart from finish.
Reading stamped their authority on the game in the early stages. Throughout the team players were comfortable with the ball at their feet (with the exception of Bond in dealing with back passes). There is a good blend of youth and experience in the side and with that came the confidence to pass the ball accurately under pressure and play some tidy football in midfield. Reading worked hard to create chances and met with a degree of success. Obita was halted with a clumsy challenge in the first minute and Quinn found a good cross but Sa, under pressure, could not make a good contact with his head. Sa broke through on sixteen minutes and was unlucky to have the ball taken off his toe as he turned back inside to lose his marker.
The referee was showing a worrying lack of authority as the game wore on, which was to have greater significance later in the game. Sa had a shot blocked in front of goal and the ball fell kindly to Robson-Kanu. With only the ‘keeper to beat, his strike lacked conviction and ‘keeper Martin was able to deflect the ball away to safety. Basically the ball need to be hit but confidence plays a big part in those situations and currently Reading lack that in front of goal. Soon after, Williams went on one his typically penetrative runs at the heart of the defence. Surrounded by half a dozen Dons defenders and no support in sight, his only option was to shot and his decent effort flew wide of the upright. MK Dons had few opportunities in the first half.
Their first opening was provided courtesy of a weak left-footed clearance from Bond, but the excellent Royals defence soon snuffed out any danger. Robson-Kanu won the ball in the air on at least four occasions and it was disappointing Sa did not anticipate the ball being flicked on. With half time approaching Sa, showing typical awareness and good touch, set up Quinn with a good shooting opportunity but his effort drifted harmlessly high and wide. Completely against the run of play MK Dons carved out a chance which Church rolled against the post. If he had scored it would been particularly galling for Royals fans. Reading continued to press forward after the interval and the visitors were reduced to rare counter attacks. Further frustration early in the half came when Obita and Norwood were given a brief sight of goal by declined the opportunity by passing the ball and responsibility to someone else. The referee now was having a poor game and provoked more anger from the home fans and players when he booked Tishibola for a hard but fair challenge. Undeterred the young midfielder was almost immediately involved in a move which presented him with a scoring opportunity. In trying to do the right thing he took the shot on with his weaker foot and his shot was easily gathered by Martin. Soon after Steve Clarke wisely took him off to avoid the possibility of a second yellow but he had played extremely well and looks set for a long run in the team. He is strong and composed in possession and rarely wastes a pass. Reading were denied a clear penalty when McShane shaped to nod the ball into an unprotected goal from close range and was completely taken out by a desperate lunge form a Dons defender. It was weak refereeing by any standard. Even the Dons manager admitted it should have been a penalty in his post-match interview. Williams had another good long range strike saved as did Blackman when he cut inside and went on a direct run on goal from midfield.
The visitors saw the game out with relative ease as Reading began to lose their way. The substitutions had very little impact and yet another two points slipped away leaving Reading with poor return of three points form their opening four games.
Reading looked a strong unit again today but I am beginning to wonder if attacking flair and creativity are being sacrificed at the expense of the solid and disciplined defensive shape of the team. On two occasions I was surprised to see five players behind the ball as Reading took a free kick in their opponents half. It seemed a little over cautious too say the least! It was a reflection of the lack of incident this afternoon that the BBC Berkshire commentary team were reduced to discussing the thickness of Mick Gooding’s ankles towards the end of their show!
This Championship game took place 701 days ago in the 2015/2016 season.