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Reading 1-0 Leeds

There was always two questions going into this game; How would the return of McDermott and Hunt be received, and would Brian be able to replicate the tactical victories that saw us take this division two years ago?  The first question was answered pretty much straight away with both of our former employees being warmly welcomed back to our humble abode, although that stopped almost the instant Leeds took a very familiar kick-off routine to the wing.

Everything looked bleak within five minutes as a poor pass from Guthrie was collected by Ross McCormack, and in fouling him Jem managed to injure himself. Post-match Adkins and Pearce have both come out and the sounds coming out of the Reading camp are concerning. Looks like Karacan could be out for a long time, which is a shame as he was one of the only decent things to come out of the Brighton game. The poor guy must hate playing against Leeds.  This did, however, give Hope Akpan his first chance to impress in the league this season. Something tells me he won't be leaving for Crawley any time soon.

Twelve minutes in Blackman was robbed of the ball, before Morrison ended up being nutmegged, thankfully a poor shot at the end saw the Reading goal safe and just a minute later Drenthe played a beautiful through ball to Bridge, but his cross saw Blackman pipped by the defender.  The first real shot Reading had was a beautifully worked piece of play, even if the initial high cross from Drenthe was a little lucky to find Blackman, who nodded down to Robson-Kanu, in turn laying it off for Williams who took a touch and fired to Paddy's right. A good save by the Leeds' keeper, even if it was 'keeper's height'.

Blackman's day did rather consist of some good set-up play before over-hitting or mis-hitting a cross. This is probably easiest explained by the fact that he's not a winger. I don't really understand playing him out-wide when on the bench is McCleary, maybe he wasn't fit but the moment he came on we looked more of a threat from the right-hand side.  To be fair to Nick he won a couple of headers, when he finally knocked the ball past a player you could see why Nigel Adkins must think he has potential but he's just not realising it yet. Otherwise I'd be perfectly happy with Obita out wide, who seems to be ready to break into the team at a moment's notice.

Williams didn't seem to be the same player who changed the game against Watford, as he constantly lost the ball, and never really got into the same positions where he looked a threat. Around the half-hour he lost the ball which set up a Leeds attack, and it wasn't the only occasion such a sentence could be written. Luckily Reading broke and Akpan fell over in the penalty area, if this was the same match as Sunday I'd be very surprised if he wasn't booked for simulation. He seemed to push forward in the first half, admittedly into the space behind the defence but I did worry for our defence when he was the furthest man forward on the edge of their 18 yard box in case Leeds broke quickly.

Two minutes later Austin was allowed to skip through both Guthrie and Akpan before he shot just wide. Hitting the net support behind the goal. Akpan never really seems to go in for tackles when the ball's 50/50, and at one point you could see Adkins get visibly angry at his lack of devotion.

Warnock's booked in stoppage time in the first half. Big moment.

Of the seven corners we never really looked a threat. Although Morrison should have bagged at least one, possibly two. He put the ball over the bar on three or four occasions, somehow missing one at the back post from a free-kick twenty-five yards out on the right. I would suggest working on set-pieces because we simply weren't good enough today (except for one six minutes into stoppage time at the end of the game).

On the hour mark Hunt was pulled off to warm applause from both sets of fans, replaced by the young winger, Poleon.

Royston Drenthe, one of the picks of our first half seemed to drop off in the second, maybe that's because he seemed to pull a muscle sprinting for a free-kick at the end of the first 45. He was almost anonymous other than a nice chip into the area to an unmarked Williams, but the ball didn't sit down for him and when he eventually took his chance it was against a golden shirt.

Hal Robson-Kanu who had held the ball up well, alongside a few nice shots and runs, was dragged off in favour of super-sub Adam Le Fondre. Within the first two minutes he'd already made more of an impact than he had against Brighton. Running and getting on the end of clearances although never managing to break through their back line.

Although our backline looked solid, Pearce didn't deal with Poleon well at all, a few times managing to nip round in front of him to grab the ball. Alongside a less than impressive Morrison I'm surprised that Leeds didn't manage to test Alex McCarthy much, with only one shot on target. Our first choice keeper was once again impressive, punching and catching crosses, corners, and free-kicks which probably saved some awkward moments of the ball bouncing around in our area.

Yet again we weren't penetrative enough, possibly because our crossing was poor yet again, possibly because every time Guthrie attempted any balls to the middle of the park we ended up losing the ball again. Akpan played a few nice through balls, but maybe needs a bit more time at this level and as mentioned Williams was fairly poor.

Thankfully, around minute 95 Leeds have a chance to win the match which they somehow manage to miss. McCormack's free-kick was met by an unmarked Pearce, Jason - also wearing the number 5 - who somehow put the ball wide of Alex McCarthy's right post. Very similar to Ricardo Vaz Te's chance last season at the same end - although that was the opposite post. Anyway, forty seconds later and Adam Le Fondre is bundled to the ground by Stephen Warnock. Another yellow makes a red, as we're all too well aware. Now, I'm not sure who Stephen Warnock was meant to be marking at the resulting free-kick but Royston's cross was flicked on by Williams before being bundled into the net by Adam Le Fondre!

It put the gloss on what was perhaps an uninspired performance, but hopefully we'll build on it in our 3rd game in 6 days away at Derby. Nigel Adkins, who in his post-match with BBCRB called the Madejski, the 'Madjeski', said that the Under 21s may get their chance to step up so I would assume that Obita's time is now, especially if McAnuff is still carrying a knock on Saturday.

At the end of the day though, Nigel Adkins 1-1 Brian McDermott.


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