Reading FC Match Report: 2015/2016 Season - Championship


FULHAM 4 READING 2

Reading: L Piazon (13), O Sa (49)
Fulham: R McCormack (50), M Dembele (54), A Kacaniklic (56), M Dembele (74).

Reading FC were cruising to another victory at a wet Craven Cottage before a crazy six minutes saw them decapitate in front of a large travelling army of fans.

Before the fans could catch their breath following Sa’s solo effort put the Royals two up, the normally defensively solid Royals found themselves losing three two. It was a knife wound that punctured the Reading performance and they were unable to recover.

Fans and the team alike were confident before kick-off. There were two changes following the Rotherham draw, a returning Vdyra replaced McCleary and Obita started in place of Andrew Taylor. Nick Blackman was pushed out to the right and Piazon to the left.

The game started in typical fashion for this season as Reading dominated the ball. Fulham were chasing shadows as the Royals move the ball shiftily and cleanly. Vdyra effectively acting as the linkup between the midfield and the attack. Orlando continually making the Fulham defensive work. Reading were pressing Fulham well, winning the ball and using quick one touch football to exploit the spaces.

In the 12th minute, a smart Reading move lead to the Royals taking the lead. A quick forward ball into Orlando Sa, saw the dangerous frontman push the ball into the Vdyra. Vdyra’s demonstrated his quick thinking with a smart ball through to Piazon who was in acres of space inside the area. Piazon had the simple task of passing the ball past Joe Lewis and into the corner of the net.

As the Royals celebrated in front of the Reading fans it looked like it was going to another good day. The half continued with the Royals in control. Norwood was controlling proceedings with efficient use of the ball and support of a team that looked confident and secure. There was a feeling they should have been more clinical with the half chances they created. Blackman shooting directly at the keeper when well-placed and Piazon seeing his shot deflected over the top.

Fulham started to work their way back into the game during the last ten minutes of the half without creating any real chances. Reading were defending well, clearing when under pressure and retaining possession when not. As the half closed you it appeared that the Reading lead was under little danger.

The second half started as the first ended. Fulham were pushing forward with the Royals looking comfortable in defensive waiting for the breakaway opportunities. In the 49th minute as the impressive Orlando Sa forced a mistake to pick up the ball just inside the Fulham half. He drove at the heart of the Fulham defensive and worked himself into space on the right hand side of the area. A fine finish across Lewis followed as the ball nestled into the corner.

Unfortunately the two goal cushion didn’t last for long. A poor clearance from Obita allowed Fulham to work the ball into McCormack on the edge of the Reading area. With his back to goal he flicked it up and rolled Chris Gunter before volleying into the bottom corner. It was a poor goal to concede that only served to rejuvenate Fulham and their fans.

Two minutes later Fulham were level. A stretching Hector appeared to handle the ball with his failed clearance attempt from a cross on the left. As the ball dropped McShane could only poke the ball into the path of Cairney who pushed a pass into Christenssen. With Christenssen clear on the right hand side of the area and Obita failing to cover, his whipped cross was bundled over the line by Dembele.

If that wasn’t hurtful enough, 51 seconds later Fulham took the lead. The Royals defensive lost their shape as McShane pushed into the Fulham half, his pass into Piazon was won by the onrushing Cairney. Cairney pass into Dembele gave Fulham a two on two with no defensive cover. Dembele’s pass into Kacaniklic saw him have a simple task to finish the ball past a helpless Al Habsi.

The damage was done and the Royals looked shell-shocked. Everything they did well in the first half was now going wrong. Norwood seemed unable to pass to anyone in African violet and conversely Reading couldn’t keep hold of possession and dictate the play. In the 70th minute, following a corner Orlando Sa did have a header blocked on the line but that was the closest the Royals came to a reply. Blackman was ineffective as he tried to inspire a comeback. His shooting unusually wayward.

Fulham finished the game as a contest in the 74th minute. A long Joe Lewis kick saw a poor Mcshane header drop into Dembele. Following a neat one two with McCormack Dembele easily slotted the ball past Al Habsi.

It is difficult to understand what happened although the back four, in particular, need to take a look at themselves. Neither full backs did enough to prevent either crosses nor shots for the first two goals. Both Centre Backs had poor positioning and clearances for the others. When momentum swings in a game you look for your senior players to lead the team. McShane in particular failed on this occasion but it’s unfair to be overly critical following the run of late. Hopefully we can look back at the result as a freak one off.
Dave Roberts

This Championship game took place 522 days ago in the 2015/2016 season.