Reading FC Match Report: 2014/2015 Season - Championship
MIDDLESBROUGH 0 READING 1
Reading: S Cox (7).
An early nonchalant chip from Simon Cox was enough for Reading FC to secure their first away win of the season. It will be a resilient second half performance from a young inexperienced Reading team that will take the plaudits though.
With a catastrophic injury list travelling Reading fans expectations were low as they set out on a 500 mile roundtrip. It would have been a relief upon arrival to hear the news that Hector and Obita had passed late fitness tests.
With Norwood and Mackie available for their first full team debuts, Obita was able to take his more natural left back position. After their substitute cameo roles in Tuesday’s carling cup win Ryan Edwards and Jake Taylor were brought back into the starting eleven. A sparse Riverside Park witnessed a fast Middlesbrough start. A Michael Hector slip in the 1st minute enabled Middlesbrough to throw in an early dangerous cross. A corner for Middlesbrough soon followed but the shot from the edge of the area was high and over. Tuesday night’s hero Federici was soon called into action, producing two saves in quick succession as the dangerous Adomah continually turned the Reading back four.
The game’s defining moment came in the 7th minute with Reading’s first penetrative foray into the Middlesbrough final third. Some good team play on the right hand side between Kuhl, Gunter and Mackie found Ryan Edwards. The keen Australian dinked a perfect through ball for Simon Cox, who produced a stylish finish that shocked the watching crowd.
With Norwood patrolling centre midfield and Obita pushed back into left back Reading appeared to have more balance across the pitch. Norwood was stretching the play with some nice passes and the hard working Mackie and Edwards chased every ball. Edwards had a good chance in the 9th minute but his shot cleared the bar by some distance. A 12th minute Pearce header had Middlesbrough scrambling to defend.
The resilience of the Reading defence was tested in the 25th minute as Pearce and Norwood produced brave last minute blocks to nullify a dangerous Middlesbrough attack. The combination of Pearce and Hector looked strong all game, Hector’s sometimes unconventional style is complimented by the disciplined and old-fashioned Alex Pearce.
As the half progressed Edwards was pushed wide right with Mackie pushing closer to Cox in a more traditional 442 formation. Cox started to drop off looking to pick the ball up deeper. Middlesbrough continued to attack without threatening Federici’s goal. Some good pressured defensive work restricting Middlesbrough to long shots. The half ended as Reading dropped deeper with Middlesbrough on top. A far post cross dropped over the head of the stretching Kuhl; Adam Clayton’s volley flew well wide.
A Middlesbrough corner fell to an unmarked kite on the six yard box. His header flew over the top of the goal. The second half started with Federici conducting a chorus of boos every time he had the ball. A frustrated Middlesbrough crowd sensing their team were going to struggle to break down a determined Reading back line. Middlesbrough pushed forward resulting in wayward shots and corners. Statistics telling the story as Middlesbrough managed 6 shots on target from 24 attempts and finishing with a corner count of 14.
Akpan replaced Kuhl on 54 minutes and, surprisingly, Cox was replaced with Tanner soon after. In the 65th minute a Middlesbrough cross was deflected onto the post by a covering Gunter as Reading dug in, working hard to protect the narrow lead. Akpan unfairly booked in the 67th minute following a committed but fair tackle. Jake Cooper replaced Norwood in the 82nd minute as the Royals looked to see out the game. Cooper sitting in as a left centre back of three. The demanding Middlesbrough fans were left frustrated as Bamford failed to connect on a low Leadbitter cross in the 90th minute. Any connection would have surely brought an equaliser.
Whilst Middlesbrough continued to bombard the Reading area with crosses and high balls, Pearce, Hector and Cooper stood strong. Federici rarely called into action. As the referee signalled the end of the game, the relief on the Reading players was etched all of their faces. Fist pumping and man hugs as they celebrated in front of the 242 Reading fans. There is no doubt this wasn’t the performance of a promotion challenging team it was, however a brave and resilient performance. A measure of the team bond in a young squad that is playing for the shirt they wear.
This Championship game took place 1668 days ago in the 2014/2015 season.