Reading FC Match Report: 2021/2022 Season - Championship


READING 0 SHEFF UTD 1

Reading: --
Sheff Utd: J Bogle (57)

It is hard to know where to begin to analyse this extremely poor performance from a Reading team which has often passed the ball well, shown resilience and character defensively and created and scored some very good goals. Last night what occurred can only be described as a collective failure by the team and the manager and his coaching staff. Against a Sheffield United side struggling to score goals and going into this match on a run of four games without a win, Reading managed only one shot on target and allowed their opponents to dominate possession overall. Until an appalling defensive error by Rahman was punished by Jayden Bogle after fifty-seven minutes to give United a deserved lead, neither team looked capable of even creating chances, never mind scoring a goal.

In an excruciatingly dull first half United enjoyed long spells of possession without testing Southwood. Reading were confined in their own half for the first ten minutes as United passed the ball sideways and backwards. Morgan Gibbs-White rattled the bar with from a free-kick just outside the box with Southwood beaten after fourteen minutes, but apart from that neither goal was threatened. Reading seemed content to sit back and allow United ample time and space to pass the ball around in the middle of the pitch, and when in possession quickly give the ball back to their opponents. To say Reading’s play lacked intensity would be a massive understatement. They were slow to close opponents down, lacked commitment in challenges, decision making was poor, and nobody seemed inclined to move to make themselves available to receive a pass. United pressed high to force Reading to play long balls out of defence which United dealt with comfortably. The pace of the game was so slow even United seemed to lose concentration, passing the ball out of play on at least three occasions when not under any kind of pressure. Surely the second half could not be worse could it? Well from a Reading perspective that certainly was not so!

The second half continued in the same pattern as the first half until United finally found a moment of quality to take the lead. Veteran McGoldrick cut in from the left wing and floated a cross to the far post. Rahman was not having a particularly game but in a split second he managed to lose sight of the ball and Bogle who he was allegedly marking. Bogle arrived at the back post to volley inside the post with such ferocity Southwood had no chance to react. It was a well taken goal which should never have been allowed to happen.

A few minutes later United’s Fleck went down a long way from the ball and the referee immediately stopped the game to allow the medical staff to treat him. Play was help up and the crowd was silent for over ten minutes before Fleck was taken off the pitch and on to hospital. Thankfully Fleck later recovered and was discharged from hospital.

What unfolded after that can only be described as an embarrassing shambles from a Reading perspective. Ejaria, Dele Bashiru and Rahman were substituted. The eagerly awaited introduction of Andy Carroll at least gave Reading more potency, Halloovic played wide on the right and showed some nice touches, and Holmes came on to allow Yiadom to get forward. Paunovic justified the omission of Holmes from the starting eleven on the grounds he wanted to include more forward players, completely missing the point that the change resulted in Yiadom, Reading’s most effective Reading player going forward in recent games, had to drop back into his usual full back spot! Laurent ended up at left back, Moore kept wandering around as makeshift centre forward. As for Puscas, it is really time for him to be ‘rested’ for a few games – at least! Drinkwater amongst others started hoofing the ball forward hopefully to Carroll. Carroll finally managed Reading’s first attempt on target after eighty-five minutes with a powerful strike form outside the box but Foderingham got behind it easily. Reading looked increasingly desperate and unlikely to find an equaliser.

With players returning to fitness there is hope of a revival to keep Reading away from the lower reaches of the Championship but everyone, including the manager will need to reflect on some of the basics of the game otherwise they will be dragged into a battle for survival. With a fully fit squad it should not be a problem but it does depend on returning players hitting the ground running and Paunovic getting his tactics and selection correct.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 16 days ago in the 2021/2022 season.