Match Report: 2009/2010 Season

Reading: Mills (13).
Sheff Utd: Quinn (42), Ward (62), Cotterill (90).
Half Time: 1-1
Attendance: 16,025

Pos Team P Pts GD
20 N Forest 4 2 -3
21 READING 4 2 -5
22 Peterborough 4 1 -4
Reading: Federici, Rosenior, Cisse (Davies, 66), Mills, Pearce, Bertrand (Harper, 88), Sigurdsson, Tabb, Karacan, Hunt (Church, 75), Long Subs not used: Hamer, Henry, Robson-Kanu, Gunnarsson.
Sheff Utd: Bunn, Montgomery, Morgan, Kilgallon, Walker, Taylor, Quinn, Treacy (Cotterill, 26), Ward, Evans (France, 85), Henderson Subs not used: Bennett, Bromby, Reid, Sharp.
Reading: -
Sheff Utd: Cotterill, Morgan.
Ref: Mick Russell (Hertfordshire).
Readingís poor start to the season continued today with a home defeat against a workmanlike Sheffield United side. In spite of taking an early lead with a well taken goal by new signing Matt Mills, Reading engineered their own downfall with sloppy defending and an appalling goalkeeping error from the usually reliable Federici. For most of the game there was little to choose between the teams. United were physically superior but Reading were playing the more creative football albeit in the middle of the pitch.

United created the first clear chance of the game when Treacy was allowed to turn far too easily in the box. Fortunately for Reading he was insufficiently composed to convert what was a good chance and blasted over. An early spell of Reading pressure produced the first goal. Having won a free kick wide on the left Sigurdssonís excellent delivery was headed in by Mills.

Reading continued to press and a sharp exchange of passes ended with Tabb firing just over the bar. Bertrand was causing United problems with his willingness to take players on. Tabb and Karacan were busy in midfield and kept the ball moving. Cisse provided an essential physical presence in midfield but occasionally reacted too slowly and was struggling to get the right side of his man. With half time approaching very sloppy marking all round resulted in Quinn having the simple task of sidefooting the equaliser at the far post with Federici stranded.

Reading responded well after half time and were causing panic in the United defence although were unable to create any clear openings. It was an open game and Mills had to make a superb tackle to prevent United from taking the lead. Sigurdsson began to grow in confidence and took on two United defenders before hitting a great long range effort which clipped the outside of the post. In the sixty-third minute, against the run of play, United took the lead. Poor marking from a throw in allowed United to work a shooting opportunity just outside the box. Wardís strike was powerful but straight at Federici who surprisingly allowed the ball to squirm though his arms and into the net. It was a savage blow to a team already low on confidence. Readingís shortcomings in attack became increasingly apparent as they toiled to get back into the game but never really looked likely to score. The final blow was struck by Cotterill when the Reading defence failed to close him down. It was a good strike but he should never have been allowed to shoot. The scoreline flattered United who, in my opinion do not look like strong candidates for promotion.

Brendan Rodgers gave an honest and accurate appraisal of the game and Readingís current situation and the need to bring players in. It was encouraging to see Reading resist the temptation to resort to hoofing long balls but we need to see more of the spark provided fleetingly by Sigurdsson in midfield. Also I am not sure Long has the qualities required to lead the attack. He is a direct and positive player but lacks the skill and guile to link up effectively with midfield and bring other players into the game. I am also concerned by Roseniorís decision making which far too often results in giving conceding possession. It is too early to panic but there is a lot of work to be done and it seems likely that the Royals will be looking to stay rather than go up this season. The sooner the home fans can accept that the better and get behind their team. It is time like this when we not only find out although the character of the team, but also about the commitment of the fans. Even when a goal up the home fans were very quiet. No matter how poor the results are, the team and the fans need to remain positive - so those who booed at the end need to understand they are only making things worse!
John Wells

"Where's the money gone" - That was the chant that greeted the final whistle against a good Sheffield Utd side yesterday as the demons of a long hard Championship season start to appear, very early all be it. It's also a very fair question which all us fans want to know, we're talking many millions, many millions. I guess the answer is easy, it's gone into JM's fat back pocket. The side is unrecognisable from last season and we are blessed with youth, but this is a brutally competitive league, and I fear we all worry deeply on the consequences if we don't start getting some results soon. To win games you have to score goals and with Long up front that is not going to happen, simple. We desperately need a couple of strikers and though everybody goes on about Tommy Smith I'm not sure he'd be our saviour either, but it would appear JM won't pay £2M, that is deeply worrying and huge slap in the face to the thousands of loyal fans who have pumped literally thousands of their hard earned cash over the last six years and before. Yes we play good football and it looks very pretty but that would be fine if we were comfortably mid table but we're not. We need scrappers and players that are prepared to get stuck in and grind out results. What a difference a couple of years make.
Nick Newbury

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Reading manager Brendan Rodgers: "I understand the fans' frustrations. They want to see their team winning and have just come to an end of a five-year cycle of success. They know we need some players in and we will do that. This is early stages of an exciting project. We are going through pain with the young players but it will pay off."
BBC Sport