Match Report: 2009/2010 Season

30 January 2010: Championship
Reading: Long (29 mins).
Barnsley: -
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 15,580

Pos Team P Pts GD
21 Ipswich 27 29 -8
22 READING 27 26 -16
23 Plymouth 26 24 -14
Reading: Federici, Mills, Griffin, Ingimarsson, Bertrand, McAnuff, Karacan (Howard, 84), Sigurdsson, Gunnarsson, Long, Church (Bignall, 74). Subs not used: Rasiak, Thorvaldsson, Kebe, Hamer, Khizanishvili.
Barnsley: Steele, Foster, Moore, Dickinson, Shotton, Doyle, De Silva (Hallfredsson, 74), Hammill (Adam, 81), Colace, Macken (Bogdanovic, 46), Hume. Subs not used: Preece, Gray, Potter, Butterfield.
Reading: Gunnarsson.
Barnsley: De Silva.
Ref: James Linington
Following his appointment as manager earlier in the week, Brian McDermott celebrated with a vital home league win. The burden of poor home form clearly still weighed heavily on the players minds as good approach play often culminated in a hasty final ball or wayward attempts on goal. The crucial goal, scored by Shane Long, came after twenty-nine minutes following a period of intense pressure. A deep cross from the right was knocked back by Bertrand and Long lashed home from close range. Barnsley, in spite of their mid table position, looked very edgy. Miscued clearances and sloppy passing gave the Royals further heaped even more pressure on the visitors defence. Long was looking sharper than he has for some time, and although some of his passing let him down, his touch was allowing him to hold the ball reasonably well. Church was full of running but he also failed to make good use of possession having worked hard to get into promising positions.

The back four is now looking very settled. They all look comfortable in possession, pass well and defend effectively as a unit. The fact that Federici did not have a save to make says as much about their performance as it does about Barnsley’s lack of penetration. Reading led by one goal at half time and it should have been two when another slick move involving McAnuff and Church put Karacan through with only the ‘keeper to beat. It was good to see he had the confidence to strike it with his weaker foot but the ball dribbled wide of the far post. Karacan was substituted late in the game, probably because his passes were going astray, but the speed at which he broke forward throughout the game and his phenomenal work rate were crucial features of this victory.

Barnsley could not raise their game in the second half but an understandable eagerness to hang on their lead resulted in a lack of discipline and needless free-kicks were conceded by the Royals. It was the free kicks and that old favourite of desperate teams, the long throw, which created most of the pressure for the away side, but Reading were able to match them in the physical battle, even dealing with ‘the tank’ (Luke Moore), coming up from the back.

McAnuff seemed to disappear in the second half until he popped up to smack a shot against the inside of the post. Had it gone in it would have been deserved and the home fans spared the torture of hanging on for the points five minutes into added time. Barnsley, it has to be said, never really looked like scoring, and they now have the distinction of being the only team to have lost twice to the Royals this season. We may not be out of the relegation zone yet but at least today the players looked as if they were prepared to scrap for survival.
John Wells

It was chalk and cheese today, in patches we knocked the ball around really well then we couldn't string a series of passes together and resorted to head tennis. We had loads of chances and every time the final ball or finish/shot was dire, I'm still encouraged we are creating chances and hopefully the goals will come as we pick up points and start winning games. Choosing MOTM today was tough, maybe Gunnar, Mills or Long, but they all had their poor moments. Long always looked threatening and has vastly improved his heading. His passing and general decision making is still dire, but that should come with confidence and goals. He took his goal well but it was laid on plate by Sig. Mills generally solid but a lot of silly fouls and misplaced passes, and Gunnar generally solid and remarkably skillful but with little result. Barnsley though were crap, maybe they had on off day but you have to wonder how they are so far above us in the table.
Pie Eater

Not sure what to make of today. It was the ugliest we've played all season and yet we won, and should have won a lot more comfortably. It says a lot about what you need to do to succeed in the Championship I suppose. Having said that, I thought Barnsley were dire, and hardly posed any threat. Was that down to the way we played? I don't think so.
Rotherwick Royal

A win that will certainly help, however if we are to ever recover properly from bad form then we MUST take our chances. We must of had 3 or 4 clear chances before actually scoring and then the goal itself was very scrappy. Long does no where near the work of Church or Thorvaldsson and doesn't have a finish, just like the rest of the striking force at them moment. So am I the only one that thinks Long is getting starts from goals rather than performance which isn't a bad thing but he is not scoring enough and doesn't finish well ENOUGH!

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Reading manager Brian McDermott:
"Today is just what we needed. We showed courage and spirit, although 1-0 is always a bit hairy towards the end of the game. In the past things have happened when we were leading 1-0, but the important thing about this result is that we got all three points. Shane Long was excellent, he was really athletic and he won his headers, and there are signs of a growing partnership between him and Simon Church. But we have five or six strikers fighting for a place in the team."

BBC Sport