Reading FC Match Report: 2021/2022 Season - Championship


READING 1 NOTTM FOREST 1

Reading: S Dann (64)
Nottm Forest: P Zinckernagel (4)

Reading fans had barely had time to settle into their seats before they saw their team 'switch off' defensively and allow Forest's Zinckernagel weave his way unchallenged through their team's midfield and defence and drill the ball past an unprotected Luke Southwood. With the news of a six point deduction during the week which saw Reading drop perilously close to the relegation zone, this was not the start required to boost morale. To their credit for the remaining eighty plus minutes Reading were resolute in the their defending, enterprising going forward, and ultimately salvaged a well-deserved and much needed point courtesy of a second half equaliser from Scott Dann.

Reading reacted well to falling behind in the first half and might well have equalised before the interval. Rahman's fierce strike was parried away by Samba, Drinkwater had a shot blocked by Samba with his feet after good work by Yiadom, and Puscas had a very good chance to level the scores, but his confidence is shot to pieces and his hasty attempt was straight at the advancing Samba. Referee Woolmer, not for the first time in this stadium had a poor game. Having allowed Forest’s full backs to clatter in to the back of Reading’s wide players several times early in the game without so much as a warning, somehow managed to find reason to dish out three yellow cards to Reading players. The third of which, given to Rahman following a superbly timed tackle on Johnson to break up a Forest attack, was utterly absurd.

The impact of new signing Andy Carroll must not be underestimated. When he came off the bench after sixty-one minutes, Carroll’s presence lifted the crowd and the team sparking a revival which had Forest looking rattled at the back for a lengthy spell midway through the second half. His first contribution was to win the ball in the air in the box, and his knock down into a dangerous area was desperately scrambled away by the Forest defence for a corner. Swift’s corner, which I suspect was not struck as well as he had hoped, was swept past Samba by Scott Dann.

Carrol’s introduction also prompted a change of formation with Moore the player withdrawn to accommodate the new signing. Switching to a back four to play Carroll up front alongside Puscas transformed his demeanour. He played like a man relieved of a huge burden. His energy levels increased and he began making runs in to the box and struck shot on target. Reading now appeared to have the momentum to go on and take all three points, but this Forest side are well organised and having a good run in the league (They are now unbeaten in their last seven games away from home.) and were clearly not going to roll over accept defeat.

Former Royal, Lewis Grabban, demonstrated exactly why Reading him go. He had three good opportunities to add to his team’s tally and failed miserably. First he ran across the box and delayed his shot until the chance disappeared, later having beaten the Reading defence blasted the ball in to the side-netting from close range, and finally his tame finish which beat Southwood was cleared off the line by Moore.

This was not Reading’s finest performance by far, but perhaps one of their grittiest. It is a real bonus having Carrol ruffling a few feathers in the opposition defence, and the attitude, after the appalling early lapse in concentration which gave Forest an early lead, was good. Moore, Laurent, Drinkwater and Swift were generally below par by their standards. Tom Holmes, in contrast, was at his best and Paunovic was justified in switching him from right back to centre back to replace Moore when Reading switched to a four- four- two formation even though it did restrict Yiadom’s licence to forage deep the Forest half. Yiadom often looks Reading’s most likely player to create scoring opportunities these days.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 19 days ago in the 2021/2022 season.