Reading FC Match Report: 2014/2015 Season - Championship


Reading: --
Leeds: L Murphy (63), S Byram (90).

Reading’s run of good performances and results came to an abrupt end at the Madejski Stadium this evening as all the individual and collective flaws in Steve Clarke’s squad evident earlier in the season emerged once again. Recent Leeds results, (scored 5 and conceded 4 in the last five games) including a win against Bournemouth, indicated it was not going to be easy. Indeed United performed well above the level of a team struggling at the foot of the table, Reading were well below par and the visitors deserved their win.

Steve Clarke re-shuffled his team again bringing in Norwood and Blackman at the expense of Cox and Robson-Kanu. He also opted for a 4 – 1 – 4 - 1 formation with Cholobah playing in front of the back four and Pogrebnyak as a lone striker. Reading started brightly and full of confidence following two impressive victories. The ball was passed crisply and Cholobah won a series of headers in midfield. Leeds worked hard defensively to deny Reading time and space and took no chances at the back happily hacking the ball out when danger threatened. As the game progressed Leeds began to look more at ease, stringing passes together and getting at the Reading back four. Reading lost their way and might have fallen behind when an appalling misunderstanding between Obita and Norwood on the half way line presented an opening for Morison who struck the post with his shot. There were passages of scrappy play with both teams giving the ball away unnecessarily.

The second half brought little change. Norwood’s passing was unusually poor, Blackman continually made the wrong choices at the end of promising runs, as did Williams. Both were guilty of conceding possession and woeful finishing. Pogrebnyak battled on but being on his own up front was invariably surrounded by Leeds defenders and quickly dispossessed. Delivery from set pieces was poor throughout, rarely clearing the first defender, and the poor timing of runs and passes ruined several promising situations.

Wootton revived memories of the old Leeds by scything down Williams from behind which drew a yellow card and an angry reaction for the Reading players. It was the sort of game which seemed destined to remain goalless. The game turned in the sixty-third minute when Murphy tried his luck from outside the box and his well struck shot squirmed into the net off Federici. Steve Clarke claimed he was unsighted. Maybe - he was certainly surprised. Clarke immediately reverted to a 4 – 4 – 2 formation replacing Norwood with Mackie. That didn’t last long as new signing Yakubu and Cox were sent in to liven up the attack. By now Reading were looking very disjointed and although Mackie was expected to play out wide when Blackman departed it appears he did not really take that role on board. The lack of width made it easier for Leeds to snuff out Reading attacks. To rub salt into the wound the lack of a passing option on the left contributed to Hector losing possession on the halfway line and with the Reading defence and midfield all over the place Leeds were able to work an opening for an unmarked Byram to nod a second goal from close range.

Steve Clarke commendably defended his players in adversity, but he will certainly have found out a little bit more about the weaknesses in his squad this evening. The lack of a goalscorer was even more evident than usual this evening and a ‘rusty’ Yakubu did not, on this showing, look likely to be the solution to that problem. I hope he proves me wrong. I still have confidence in the new manager and he will not be fazed by one poor performance but there is still a lot of work to be done.
John Wells

This Championship game took place 3415 days ago in the 2014/2015 season.