Reading FC Match Report: 2012/2013 Season - Premier League


Reading: G McCleary (53 mins), A Le Fondre (55 mins).
West Ham: K Nolan (23 mins, 79 mins, 87 mins), R Vaz Te (34 mins).

So. Farewell then, 2012/13. Our season on the road ended as it started; in the Capital, throwing away a promising position in the match to slump to a 4-2 loss with a hopeless goalkeeping error thrown in for good measure. Since that initial away defeat by a similar score line at Chelsea, a season punctuated by slapstick defending has yielded a mere 8 league points from our travels despite a ‘goals for’ tally away from home which eclipses that accumulated by top half sides such as Swansea and Sunday’s conquerors, West Ham. If the Premier League was a court of law then the case for Reading’s defence would have long since been dismissed.

Reading have deployed 11 different men in their back 5 throughout the season through a combination of poor luck with injuries and mistake-ridden individual performance and Adkins shuffled the pack again with the surprise reintroduction of Kaspars Gorkss who hadn’t featured since the autumn and who latterly had been involved in Wolves slipping cataclysmically from the Championship in a mutually unsuccessful loan spell. This was a curious decision from Adkins who only needed to pick the phone up to his predecessor or to Neil Warnock to discover how poorly Gorkss had coped with Premier League football. Otherwise it was the same team as Pogrebnyak kept his lone berth up top despite increasingly disinterested displays from the Big effing Russian. If the sacking of McDermott was to lay foundations for Adkins to experiment ahead of next season then why the Dickens is Nigel keeping faith with people who haven’t performed thus far?

As befits a final day fixture in the sunshine between two sides with nothing to play for, this game was an open one. Much like the Fulham game, Reading were allowed time and space to create chances and did so by working the ball around the park with no little skill to involve the wingers. Much like the Fulham game, Reading gifted the opposition clear cut opportunities with shocking defending and - unlike Fulham - West Ham made the most of the numerous chances which came their way. It is admirable that Adkins desires his players to retain possession, looking to build from the back but in many cases they look uncomfortable on the ball, particularly across the back 4. And it was no surprise when midway through a first half in which Reading had held their own, we fell behind thanks to McCarthy dwelling on a backpass and wanting to find a colleague with a short pass, such are the promptings of the new management team. Instead, an ultimately hurried panicked clearance was the result and the ball rebounded off Carroll into the path of Nolan who could not miss. A ludicrous goal to concede.

Up until then, Reading had played nicely enough with McCleary on the left looking particularly threatening; it was he with the first effort on goal of the afternoon and his cut back was met with an ugly swipe like a novice golfer in Marbella rather than the Premier League footballer that Robson-Kanu purports to be. West Ham served early notice of the ponderous nature of our defence when Carroll slid in at the far post and nudged the ball wide when well placed. Guthrie hit a decent effort fractionally wide and HRK played in Gunter after a raking cross-field pass only for the full back to lash into the side netting when a pass across goal looked the better option. It was a bright start but it was Fred Karno's Circus at the back with the first goal, McCarthy then making a belated case for his surprise England inclusion with a heroic save against the crossbar from Nolan after Carroll caused the Reading defence all sorts of trouble and then a second goal when a deep cross was shamefully allowed to be retrieved with consummate ease by Carroll as Kelly dithered and Vaz Te made an untracked run to pass the ball home. With self-deprecating humour, the small away following who forked out a disgraceful £49 for this fixture informed the gleeful home fans: That's why we're going down. It was all too easy to see just why we'd been relegated 3 full weeks ago.

West Ham were threatening to run away with it, but two half time substitutions gave us new impetus as the ineffective Pog and HRK were replaced with Le Fondre and Blackman. Le Fondre's running caused West Ham problems, Karacan and Guthrie were starting to dominate the midfield and get the ball wide and within 10 minutes of a second half that all assembled expected to be an end-of-season procession we were level. McCleary connected nicely with a loose ball on the edge of the box, gambled and got lucky with a deflection. Two minutes later and it was 2-2, another good cross field ball found Blackman who put an early cross into the far post where West Ham had failed to track Le Fondre. Reading were almost ahead when another neat move found McCleary whose cross was inches away from being tucked in by Le Fondre to complete the turn around.

But while we all marvelled at the rare treat of seeing Reading pass the ball and create chances, the fact remained we were still shoddy-looking defensively. Kelly's loose pass was intercepted but the chance went begging but this was a warning sign as the makeshift left back - once again looking thoroughly uncomfortable out of position - was taken out by a simple ball over the top and Nolan walked through to score. In the closing stages of the game we gifted West Ham a fourth, a cross from Kelly's side - natch - was headed in easily by Nolan to complete a hatrick of soft goals as he drifted wrong side of Gorkss who showed on the day nothing other than the same wretched form we saw from him before Christmas. Missed opportunity - a fair assessment of both this game and the entire season.
Neil Maskell

This Premier League game took place 2601 days ago in the 2012/2013 season.