MATCH REPORT: 2008/2009 Season

Reading: -
Barnsley: -.
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 19,420

Pos Team P Pts GD
3 Sheff Utd 43 76 +25
4 Cardiff 43 73 +16
5 READING 43 71 +29
6 Burnley 43 69 +7
Reading: Hahnemann, Rosenior, Duberry, Bikey, Armstrong, Kebe, Tabb, Karacan (Cisse 90), Stephen Hunt (Little 68), Kitson, Noel Hunt (Long 49). Subs Not Used: Matejovsky, Federici.
Barnsley: Steele, Hassell, Moore, Foster, Kozluk, Bogdanovic (Mifsud 80), Teymourian, De Silva, Colace, Hammill (Campbell-Ryce 81), Macken (Odejayi 90). Subs Not Used: Muller, Guedes.
Reading: Bikey, Duberry.
Barnsley: Moore.
Ref: Richard Beeby (Northamptonshire).
Reading continue to limp towards the play-offs with yet another disappointing home performance against relegation threatened Barnsley. A mediocre first half display gave the visitors sufficient encouragement to believe they could take a point, and by the end you could sense they even fancied taking all three. It is a commonly held belief that the table doesn't lie, and that may well be the case, but as far as Reading are concerned it is certainly misleading. If the burden of high expectations has dragged them down since January they should find the play offs much easier because on current form nobody is expecting them to succeed.

There was no lack of effort today especially in the second half when relentless pressure could not be translated into goals. Reading's best chance of the first half fell to Tabb following a good run down the left by Noel Hunt. With ample time and space to weigh up his options he decided to curl the ball inside the left upright. It was well placed but at nice height for Steele to tip behind for a corner. With hindsight I'm sure he would have opted for a bit more power. Kebe had an infuriating half making the wrong decision on virtually every occasion, spurning opportunities to cross and running into trouble when a simple pass would have retained possession. It not a matter of not having the ability - he simply does not know when to take players on. When he gets it right, as he did twice in the second half he opened up Barnsley's defence with ease. Barnsley were organised to frustrate Reading with Colace playing in front of a back four, four in midfield and one up front. Reading found it hard to get their crosses in and when they did Steele's handling was faultless.

Noel Hunt was finally succumbed to an injury inflicted by a heavy shove from Moore in the first half and was replaced by Long. Kitson's work rate was tremendous but when chances fell to him he was unable to generate the power or accuracy with his heading to convert chances into goals. For all their second half pressure the Barnsley 'keeper had little to do. Another save from Tabb and a shot from Kitson were dealt with comfortably. The home crowd really got behind the team but the mass exodous before the additional five minutes were played indicated that they, like the players, did not really believe they would score.

I'm sure the Royals will scrape into the play-offs and then anything might happen.
John Wells

Iíll put as much effort into this as the players did in the first half. Rest S Hunt, play Kebe as a sub i.e. late second half impact player, build from the back i.e. Marcus throw the ball to the full backs, donít hoof it up field. Second half performance was better but letís put this into perspective, Barnsley are one place from relegation. As for mindset, forget what might have been, assume anything now is a bonus and try to play with some freedom. Yes weíve thrown away a season of potential but this isnít a collapse from top of the league a la Wolves of some years ago, so anything out of the season really is a bonus and whatís the worse that can happen, just what weíve been expecting since Christmas i.e. we donít go up. So at least have a go for the few games that remain.
Nick Tilehurst

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Reading manager Steve Coppell on his side not winning at home for the seventh successive game:
"It's massively disappointing once again. It's the strangest run of results at home I have known at any club I've been at. It's been the strangest season in many ways. Earlier on when we were winning games I was thinking 'how on earth were we winning those by threes, fours and fives?'. We were poor in the first half. It was almost as though there was nothing at stake for either team. It was shadow boxing. In the second we were what I expected us to be and we had opportunities. We just didn't have our shooting boots on."

BBC Sport