Reading FC Match Report: 2014/2015 Season - Championship
READING 2 SHEFF WED 0
Reading: P Pogrebnyak (29), N Chalobah (40).
Sheff Wed: --
In a highly entertaining match Reading deservedly took three valuable points from a team renowned for their fine form away from home. With everyone expecting a tough game Steve Clarke’s team selection once again caused a few raised eyebrows. New signing Chalobah started, with Norwood, regarded by many as Reading’s best player this season, relegated to a place on the bench. His decision was vindicated as Reading turned on an impressive performance with Chalobah scoring the decisive second goal just before half time. Reading now have a manager who clearly knows what he is doing and is not going to easily swayed by public opinion.
Wednesday, bristling with confidence, dominated possession for the opening five minutes but Reading soon settled into their stride. Good defending kept Reading out following a good cross from McCleary, and then the first clear chance fell to Cox, who wasted the chance with a tame strike which Westwood was able to deal with comfortably. Almost immediately Federici had to deal with an attempt from McGuire which he deflected up wards and gathered at the second attempt. A minute later Chalobah found McCleary with an incisive pass but he looked uncomfortable with the ball on his left foot and curled his shot wide. It was no surprise when Reading took the lead on twenty nine minutes. A good deep cross form Kelly, uncharacteristically slack marking by Wednesday, and a powerful header from Pogrebnyak left Westwood picking the ball out of the back of the net. Loovens received a yellow card for taking out McCleary on the halfway line when he was clearly going to break through the Wednesday defence.
Cox could have doubled the lead when put through by McCleary but his left foot was also found wanting. Reading increased their lead on forty minutes. McCleary broke down the right, delayed and finally ignored, the most obvious pass to Pogrebnyak, free and wide to his right, electing to play the ball inside to Chalobah instead. Chalobah’s finish was superb. Striking a ball on the half volley across the line of flight of the ball is probably the most difficult skill in the game but he made it look easy. The ball flew past a startled Westwood before he had time to react. Reading were now rampant and a goal line clearance was required to prevent Robson-Kanu’s lob from making it three, two minutes later. The last action of the half was a finger-tip save from Federici after Obita’s indecision had conceded possession for the second time just outside his own penalty area.
The second half was even more eventful thanks to some excellent play from Reading and some appalling decisions by the officials. McCleary rifled in a tremendous shot only to see his effort disallowed by a flag for Cox being in an offside position in spite of having no involvement in the build up to the goal. Reading looked likely to add a third goal every time they broke out of defence. Pogrebnyak raced clear of the defence and was brought down for a clear penalty. The only person in the stadium who did not think it should have resulted in a card of some colour was the man with the whistle. Clear foul, last defender … oh well who needs consistent refereeing anyway. Robson-Kanu stepped up and rolled the penalty to Westwood’s right for an easy save. Reading should have been out of sight by now, but the missed penalty roused the huge contingent of travelling fans and the mood changed. Wednesday surged forward and the challenges came thick and fast. A hefty challenge went unpunished in midfield which understandably offended Hector’s sense of fair play and he delivered his own version of justice for which he later received a yellow card.
McCleary was replaced by Blackman after constantly making the wrong choices and losing possession at an alarming rate. Mackie and Norwood came on to steady the ship and although Wednesday huffed and puffed this new look Reading side never looked like surrendering the lead. Steve Clarke’s impact on this squad of players us quite remarkable. (Pogrebnyak is a prime example of the transformation and deservedly took the Man of the match award.) They now look like a team, they do not concede goals easily, and today they began to look very dangerous going forward. It was a fine performance all round. It was a pity a few more home fans could not brave the cold a bit longer to applaud their team off the field at the end – they deserved it.
This Championship game took place 848 days ago in the 2014/2015 season.