Reading FC Match Report: 2018/2019 Season - Championship


Reading: --
Sheff Utd: B Sharp (83), S Baldock (og 86)

Just when there were encouraging signs of progress on the pitch, with some improved performances in recent weeks, the owners of Reading Football Club stepped in re-appointing former CEO Nigel Howe and presumably approved his decision to sack manager Paul Clement in his first twenty four hours in post. The consequences of such a pre-meditated ill-advised and decision was plain to see in the disastrous outcome on the pitch today. After a run of five tough matches had produced six points, some excellent goals and only one narrow away defeat to high flying Leeds United, caretaker manager Scott Marshall was thrust into his new role with insufficient time to prepare his team for yet another tough game against a team chasing promotion. Following a bright first half, Reading faded badly after the interval and were completely outplayed by United before conceding two late goals.

Marshall put his faith in promising youngsters and a four- four-two formation leaving his more experienced players on the bench. Initially it appeared a good decision. Reading had pace throughout the team and passed the ball quickly and effectively albeit without really penetrating the United defence. By half time Reading were in control of the game dominating possession overall but crucially had not managed shot on target. United on the other hand had the ball in the net twice but in each case the goal was disallowed with the scorers in a clearly offside position.

Nobody could blame Paul Clement’s half time team talk this week for the events after the interval. Sensing Reading were there for the taking, United manger Wilder introduced attacking midfielder Duffy and the visitors were on the front foot from the re-start. Within ninety seconds McGoldrick had a good chance to give United the lead time as Reading’s defensive frailties re-surfaced. A good save from Jaakkola kept the scores level. Gunter headed the ball off the line with Jaakkola beaten. United were looking dangerous every time they attacked but Reading stood firm. With the rain falling heavily the ball was fizzing around and Reading could not retain possession sufficiently to relive the pressure on the back four.

As confidence drained out the young Reading side the back four became increasingly hesitant and began passing the ball sideways and backwards. The pressure got to Jaakkola who lost concentration letting the ball run out of play for a corner. Blackett conceded a corner in passing back to his keeper without noticing he was on the other side of his goal! In an attempt get the Reading attack going Barrow replace Sims (who had spent the first half passing to opponents). Sadly Barrow hardly touched the ball. In spite of United’s dominance the scores were still level with less than ten minutes left. The scene was set for United substitute, the experienced former Reading striker Billy Sharp, to apply the killer blow. Having come close with a glancing header He lost his maker at the far post for a tap in with seven minutes from time. To rub salt into the wounds substitute Sam Baldock made his brother’s day heading past his own ‘keeper for United’s second a couple of minutes later. Reading never looked likely to win this game and even more worrying, they failed to register a single shot on target in the entire match.

So with almost half the season gone Reading slip into the relegation zone without a clue about who the next manager will be. It is remarkable how badly the club have handled the current situation. It was always going to be a challenge to avoid the drop this season but that challenge has become even greater almost overnight. Having removed the scapegoat, even the Radio Berkshire commentary team were struggling to identify their next target to blame. One thing is sure, the next manager will need to be very strong indeed.

John Wells

This Championship game took place 777 days ago in the 2018/2019 season.