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Reading 0-1 Charlton

Despite good wins over Rotherham and Blackpool Saturday afternoon's loss to Charlton Athetlic means that The Royals have only picked up 8 points from a possible 33, and only won twice in the last 11. The latest result comes despite Reading having 61% possession, twenty shots, and all twelve corners in a game which they dominated but rarely threatened - as the fact that only two of those twenty shots hit the target illustrates perfectly.

The game started well for the home side, Murray nodding a cross from the right just over the bar. His link up play with Mackie and Cox was one of the positive points, although as the stats show it never led to much. Part of this was down to overplaying, 'the trouble with Arsenal is...' style. Nobody seemed to want to shoot from the edge of the area, and thus Charlton could easily regroup and frustrate us.

Obita's crossing didn't help much, almost every ball in from the left was easily dealt with. In fact, if you want a case study on why he should be pushed back into defence this game is perfect. Under pressure his crosses tended to hit the first player in red, and I can't remember a single ball making it into a dangerous position for Murray to attack. Alongside that he doesn't beat his man, instead he either attempts a difficult ball into the box, or lays it back to Gunter but then drifts inside sapping the width, and slowing down the play. Playing in defence he gets slightly more time to pick out crosses when the ball's laid back to him, and he doesn't need to go past defenders.

That said Gunter didn't aid him. Alongside Obita he was culpable in slowing down play due to his lack of a left foot, which hampered him immeasurably. It took away his attacking threat, and I only remember one ball down the touchline which unlocked Charlton, but the subsequent cross from Obita was, unsurprisingly, easily cleared.

As already alluded to, on the other wing the tireless Mackie had much more success. Obviously benefitting from playing with Cox before, the two from Forest worked tirelessly to win balls and get into good positions. The only time this faltered was when it was left to Murray to come out to the right, as none of the other forwards - Mackie, Cox, or Obita - are particularly known for their heading.

There was a brief period in the first half where Charlton were on top, and in that fleeting moment you can tell why the Addicks are six points above us in the table. Williams hassled Vetokele but failed to win the ball, and within moments the same player was leaping, unmarked, to flick Solly's cross past the diving Federici - absolutely nothing the Aussie could do.

Hector should have levelled moments later as his header on the six yard box somehow missed the post. I thought he had a good game despite the scoreline, and he actually managed to shimmy past defenders a couple of times and help set up chances but his heading has got to be better from a man of his size.

In the second half Reading were slightly more threatening, a good save from the Charlton keeper kept out Mackie after he was through, Norwood hit the post, and Blackman - after he eventually came on - narrowly missed the right-hand corner with a shot from the edge of the box. The problem was that Reading's 'all-out-attack' - read: loss of heads - gave Charlton chances as well, and it was only due to Federici's exceptional double save that The Royals weren't two behind.

The biggest problem was that Adkins left it far too late to make changes. It was obvious to everyone that substitutions were needed, but instead the manager left it until 80 minutes to freshen things up, which gave almost no time for the players coming on to bed into the game. Stranger still was the decision to replace Mackie with Pogrebnyak 3 minutes from time, when it was obvious that Obita was a much better candidate. Or, with three minutes left, take off one of the holding midfielders.

This match should've been an easy win at the end of the day when you look at the statistics, but instead Charlton have managed to leave with all the points, and, in fact, managed double our shots on target with only 39% of the ball - that says a lot.


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