MATCH REPORT: 2008/2009 Season

Reading: -
Nottm Forest: McGugan (61 mins).
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 21,196

Pos Team P Pts GD
1 Wolves 35 64 +20
2 Birmingham 35 61 +10
3 READING 33 59 +29
4 Preston 35 56 +4
Reading: Federici, Rosenior, Duberry, Pearce, Armstrong (Lita 76), Kebe (Tabb 60), Matejovsky, Gunnarsson (Cisse 77), Stephen Hunt, Doyle, Noel Hunt. Subs Not Used: Hahnemann, Harper.
Nottm Forest: Smith, Wilson, Chambers, Morgan, Lynch, McGugan (Thornhill 82), Moussi, Cohen, Anderson, Tyson (McCleary 30), Earnshaw (Breckin 86). Subs Not Used: Gamble, Heath.
Reading: Pearce.
Nottm Forest: Earnshaw, Morgan.
Ref: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire).
Reading fans had to endure yet another frustrating and disappointing afternoon at the Madejski Stadium. As so often happens in football Reading were punished for not taking their chances when they were on top. For half the game a very nervous and disorganised Forest defence held out mainly due to an even higher level of anxiety about finishing from the Royals. Jimmy Kebe set the tone by failing to convert a golden opportunity in the opening minutes. He was given an amazing amount of time and space in front of goal. Having eventually brought the ball under control, in spite of not being closed down, he struck it wide from close range. It would be wrong to make him the scapegoat for today's defeat, and I would not wish to see his confidence further undermined, but he simply is not playing well enough to merit his place.

Reading played some good football in the first half. Stephen Hunt and Doyle were getting the better of Forest down the left and Rosenior was pressing forward down the right. Gunnarsson headed over from a Stephen Hunt free kick and Rosenior forced a good save from Smith with a well struck effort from well outside the box. As half time approached you see the belief draining away from the forwards and the crowd could sense it might be another one of those days. Forest's main ploy was to disrupt the flow of the game with a series of fouls and time wasting tactics throughout. Even manager Billy Davies joined in with the cheating when he deliberately kicked a ball onto the pitch as Reading prepared to take a quick throw. Once again Federici was prevented from releasing the ball quickly, this time by Earnshaw, and as in other games the offence went unpunished.

The second half saw a further deterioration in the quality of Reading's passing and an increase the time wasting from Forest. The referee seemed to do nothing about it apart from slowing the game further by having long chats with the offenders. A yellow card might have discouraged the cheating if it had been picked up earlier in the game but Forest knew they had a weak referee and took full advantage. Things went from bad to worse when Mc Gugan ran at the Reading back four who backed away and allowed him to smack a shot low and hard into the corner of the net from the edge of the box. It gave Forest the chance to waste another chunk of time with a protracted celebration which again the referee might have broken up a bit sooner. Coppell in desperation threw on all the substitutes but the desperation in Reading's play had taken hold and the quality of the crossing never really troubled the Forest defence which was growing in confidence as full time approached. Even Matejovsky started to give the ball away.

Tabb came on and looked a far better option than Kebe so surely must start on Tuesday. Maybe Kebe might be more effective used in a short burst near the end against tired defenders. He has played well this season but not for a long time now. It would also be interesting to see how we played without Stephen Hunt, but if he must play someone ought to ask him to stop spinning and hoofing the ball down the line without first having a look to see who is there. The result was even more frustrating when so many of the chasing pack also had dreadful results and the opportunity to gain ground was lost. I think Steve Coppell has persevered with one or two players longer than he should have. I agreed with the changes he made today but we have not really looked convincing since Bikey and Ingimarsson have been out of the team. Reading are a team capable of beating any team in this division but at the moment they also look capable of losing to any team. The reality of the situation is that there is not a team in the Championship capable of achieving the consistency to make them clear favourites to go up, and whoever does eventually make it will have a lot of work to do in the transfer market this summer.
John Wells

This is turning into a slow long lingering death . Words almost fail me and with one pathetic point from the last three home games there is a big sense of deja vu as just like last season from what looked so hopeful after Christmas our form has plummeted like a giant stone falling off a cliff and the season looks like imploding with it and crashing on the rocks below . Maybe if Kebe had put away the sitter after three minutes it would all have been different but he with great skill he blasted wide from six yards out . He's playing so bad it's he who should be farmed out on loan preferably back to Mali not Henry who played well against Birmingham the last time we performed well . Coppell is running out of excuses , it's very hard to make them the way we are playing at present totally devoid of ideas , passion , guts, pride and skill. How long before the lamentable "I've taken them as far as I can"?
Nick Newbury

I was hoping for a backlash from the Bristol game and the first half looked promising but then the second half fell apart indeed much like the second half of our season. We can talk about changing the team, would Kebe be better employed at the head of a 5 man midfield running on to Doyle's flick ons ( but then Kebe is like many modern footballers, an athlete but sadly not very good at football) but this is ignoring the fundamental issue. We didn't strengthen properly in January and we have here over the last two seasons a case of diminishing returns. The squad has done well but that was in the past and the sell by date has passed. So we can tinker with what we've got and we should (the Hunts and Kebe out, Bikey in, 5 man midfield) but we're in no danger of going up. This isn't just a bad run, it's the end of the recent dream, we're so devoid of confidence and are clueless and all that against a team how many places below us exactly?! Good to see some passion in the technical area though, but that was as good as it got. And talking of which, as the saying goes, if you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got.
Nick Tilehurst

Got an opinion? E-Mail us at
Appropriate submissions will appear on match report pages

Reading's promotion hopes suffered a blow as they slipped to a surprise home defeat against Nottingham Forest. The hosts had the better chances, with Jimmy Kebe volleying wide, Brynjar Gunnarsson heading over and Kevin Doyle and Stephen Hunt wasting opportunities. Forest gradually improved and Robert Earnshaw shot over before Adam Federici made a fine save from Chris Cohen. Lewis McGugan won it for Forest when he drove into the box, foxed Michael Duberry and fired past Federici.
Reading boss Steve Coppell: "It was frustrating and ultimately very disappointing. It the first half we played really well and there was a buzz in the dressing-room, but as soon as we re-started we just weren't as fluent. At 1-0 down we tried to get as many goalscorers on as possible but Forest clogged us up and slowed us down."
BBC Sport