Reading FC Match Report: 2015/2016 Season - Championship
READING 1 ROTHERHAM 0
Reading: H Robson-Kanu (66).
Hal Robson-Kanu’s composed finish midway through the second half was sufficient to secure all three points for Reading. Recently appointed Neil Warnock’s influence was clearly evident Rotherham’s performance. The visitors had little to offer in terms of footballing quality and collected five yellow cards in an ugly first half. They came looking for a point and got what they deserved. Nothing.
Brian McDermott retained the formation which worked so well against West Brom in the Cup on Saturday, but replaced Cox with Kermorgant as the lone striker, and Rakels with John on the left. Rotherham successfully stifled Reading in the early stages of the game and restricted Robson-Kanu and John to a couple of crosses. United pressed effectively and played the ball long and early from the back. Al Habsi had pull off a very good save getting down smartly to his right to keep out a header from Woods after United had worryingly won three headers in succession in and around the box. It was in fact Rotherham’s only strike on target in the entire match. Robson-Kanu found Kermorgant with good cross, but although the Reading striker kept the ball down, it flew wide. Kermorgant competed well but was isolated and when he did win the ball in the air there was nobody close enough to benefit.
Referee Johnson had a busy first half as United kicked, dived, and argued their way to a grand total of five yellow cards, and it could have been more. With Warnock snarling on the touchline it was not pleasant to watch. Ex-Royal Halford had a particularly embarrassing half first with tantrums when he was subjected to a strong challenge and launching himself at Cooper in a pre-meditated attempt at what he probably perceived as revenge.
Rotherham were, of necessity, more restrained in the second half but the quality of their football was no better. Their lack of imagination was epitomised by their main attacking ploy, the long throw, which they used incessantly. As the game wore on it was developing into a stalemate and Brian McDermott realised it was unlikely Kermorgant was going to puncture United’s defence single handed and brought on Rakels to keep him company up front. Norwood, who was not having one of his better games was sacrificed, leaving the magnificent Hector and industrious the Quinn to occupy the centre of midfield. The change brought instant success. Within a minute Rakels cut the ball back to Kermorgant on the edge of the box. Kermorgant did enough to prod the ball into the path of Robson-Kanu who calmly side-footed the ball past Camp into the far corner of the net.
Relegation has never really been on the agenda this season but three clean sheets and five points have pushed the Royals nearer the top half of the league. The back four, assisted by Hector, is looking very secure but a cure has yet to be found for a lack of goals. Kermorgant was off target a couple of times this evening, but also Quinn, Norwood and Hector all failed to hit the target from the edge of the box with a clear sight of goal. Perhaps Rakels will be part of the solution, or maybe Vydra will begin replicate his Cup goal scoring form in the league. If there is a solution the current squad I am confident McDermott is the man to find it.
This Championship game took place 400 days ago in the 2015/2016 season.