Reading FC Match Report: 2013/2014 Season - Championship


Reading: P Pogrebnyak (pen 20).
Barnsley: S Dawson (16), R Noble-Lazarus (53), D Jennings (57).

A rousing chorus of ‘that was embarrassing’ from the few remaining Royals fans at the final whistle perfectly summarised yet another poor Reading home performance. The official attendance of over 16,000 masked the harsh reality that huge numbers of season ticket holders could simply not be bothered to turn up to support their team when they on the verge of reaching the play-offs. The stadium was half empty and with only a handful of Barnsley fans making the trip, the atmosphere was subdued to say the least.

Reading’s home from has left a lot to be desired recently but this evening it plummeted to a new low. Visiting teams know that Reading are vulnerable on their own soil. Barnsley simply closed Reading down quickly all over the pitch, passed the ball swiftly and accurately and took full advantage of the space generously donated by Reading to score three very well taken goals. As expected Reading attacked briskly in the opening minutes firing in some dangerous crosses which Barnsley dealt with effectively. Three times in the opening phase of the game McCleary ignored the overlapping runs of Obita and cut inside. I imagine the theory is that he would cut inside and score. It almost worked when he burrowed through the Barnsley defence, but Steele saved well.

However the Royals back four (and McCarthy) looked jittery in possession. McCarthy made a poor decision to release the ball to Gunther as he was being closed down quickly. Panic set in and Gunther’s back pass was equally poor and was cut out by Barnsley. With McCarthy chasing a lost cause the ball was cut back to Dawson who steered the ball past a couple of Reading defenders in to the unguarded net to give the away team the lead on sixteen minutes. Reading bounced back quickly when Pogrebnyak bustled in to the box and was brought down when he did not really look likely to threaten the goal. Pogrebnyak tucked the spot away confidently. On the stroke of half time Pogrebnyak had a golden opportunity to play Drenthe into a goalscoring position but he delayed his pass and was brought down.

The game was settled early in the second half as Barnsley’s slick passing and excellent finishing stunned the Madejski crowd with two goals in the space of four minutes. Noble-Lazarus curled the ball inside the far post from the edge of the box on fifty-three minutes. Jennings added the crucial third on fifty-seven minutes. His goal was remarkable for the power and accuracy of the strike, and for the unbelievable amount of time and space he was given by the Reading defence. Pearce came closest to pulling a goal back with a header which Steele tipped over the bar. The introduction of Le Fondre and Robson-Kanu made little difference as Barnsley stuck to their game plan and ran out comfortable winners to lift themselves off the bottom of the league.

I have rarely seen such a poor performance from a Reading team. (Probably need to go back to the Tommy Burns era to find something worse!) The balance of the team looked wrong. The passing was poor and the movement again almost non-existent. Neither Obita or Blackman were able to get behind the Barnsley defence, Pogrenyak looked slow and clumsy and McAnuff and Akpan did not make a good combination in the middle. Drenthe, as always, was full of energy but he over-hit almost every pass or free kick. His lack of composure was never more evident than when he had a sight of goal just after Barnsley’s third goal but lashed it wide with a wild swipe at the ball.

Reading looked far from play-off contenders but remarkably they remain in the top six as all the other results went their way. The run of poor home performances seem to indicate the problem goes a bit deeper that a loss of form of an off day. Doubts are beginning to creep in about selection and tactics. Confidence looked low tonight and was not helped by a low attendance and the ridicule the team were subjected to from their own fans. The next game is a going to be a test of character as much as anything else.
John Wells

This Championship game took place 1940 days ago in the 2013/2014 season.