Skip to main content

Birmingham 2-1 Reading

Football's back, and this summer has been an exciting one by anyone's standards, but particularly for a club with Reading's recent history in the transfer windows. Indeed Quinn, Sá, and McShane - who was given the armband - all started their first competitive matches in a Reading shirt, alongside Aaron Tshibola making his full debut.

However after a lively start where Norwood hit the bar within the first five minutes, after a foul on Sá, the same problems as last season seemed to take hold. Charles Watts put this down to a lack of firepower - which I think is incredibly harsh. The moment the back four or Norwood got the ball the two strikers - Blackman and Sá - started runs up field, where the ball would be pinged the length of the field in a half-baked attempt to try and find them. Nobody showed for the ball, and when they did they were ignored in favour of the Hollywood ball. Inevitably this led to a loss of possession, and the cycle restarted. With McShane and Hector absolutely dominating the Birmingham attack we never looked in danger, but a central free kick was deflected by Sá - who turned his body to let the ball past - changed that. They took an age setting up the wall, and it still managed to go straight through them.

Things got worse immediately after the restart as Toral nodded in Donaldson's cross two minutes after play had resumed, but from there Reading started to come back into the game. Williams twice drove to the edge of the box, only to see his shot just miss the keeper's left post both times. Then Gunter, who had an outstanding second half, put in a perfect cross for Blackman to leap, and guide his header into the far corner. Kuszczak has to take some blame, only being able to parry Williams' initial shot to the wing rather than holding it. From then it was all the men in African Violet; McShane hit the bar with a header, and Tshibola had a shot that appeared to all but the referee to have crossed the line. Everything wrong with the first half - namely the long, hit-and-hope balls - had disappeared, replaced with movement and skill.

With the substitutions of Blackman, and Quinn The Royals somewhat lost their way, and Birmingham came back into the game slightly before Simon Cox was brought down in the box to set up a draw with the last kick of the game. Orlando Sá, presumably wanting to make an impression, stole the ball after a lengthy debate, only to have an incredibly tame attempt saved and Cox's rebound, from a tight angle, seen wide. Sá looked absolutely gutted at the end of the game, and trudged off with head bowed.

The midfield, despite lacking width, showed what they could do in the second half. Williams' cutting in from the right was potent, and Quinn's hustle on the other side was invaluable. Tshibola looked conservative, often passing short when he possibly could have been slightly more aggressive, but in his first full game that's understandable. Obita was possibly the weak link in the team, particularly in the first forty-five, but after their goal he had less of a defensive role to do, and helped out the attack well.

The refereeing performance was atrocious. The decision to book Tshibola after nothing but what appeared to be a shoulder barge midway in the Birmingham half - his first foul - was criminal. Likewise the man in black missed the midfielder's shot cross the line (if it indeed did). After allowing Kuszczak to hold the ball for upwards of fifteen seconds he then booked Cox for standing in front of the keeper. As far as I'm aware he never booked anybody for time wasting, despite the home team slowing the game down at any opportunity, and one Birmingham player managed to get away with booting the ball into the stands after Sá missed his penalty.

At the end of the day Reading deserved to win the match, let alone draw, but this is only the first game of the season and there were very positive signs going forward. Hopefully with McShane and Hector at the back - who were outstanding on the whole - even when the team goes through a lull we won't be conceding soft goals which cost us so dearly last season. Sá looked strong, and like he'll enjoy the challenge - he clearly should have scored today but it will come. Likewise Blackman looked lively, and although not everything he does manages to come off he was solid and bagged the goal.


Popular posts from this blog

Replacing Omar Richards

In the summer team report I wrote: "we  really  don't want to be going into 2021/2022 without any LBs so a new contract for Omar has to be on the agenda early". And yet, that seems to be exactly what's happening with Richards set to depart for pastures new. Whether he goes to Bayern Munich or not, bigger clubs are circling. There's a couple of options internally, and the club are also looking elsewhere. Ethan Bristow The youngster has been the go-to left-back for cup matches and tends to start for the U23s. He's been brought onto the bench since Richards' injury, but has found himself behind Gibson and McIntyre in the pecking order. Bristow's little run inside drags the right-back narrow, and gives Aluko space to attack He has good vision to spot a pass, and often plays them first time to not allow the defence to put him under pressure. That's normally followed by an intelligent run, and not always to get the ball - sometimes he simply pulls a defe

Reading FC Season Review | 2020/2021

When your season starts with your manager having to watch your opening match from the hotel because he's not been hired in time to beat the quarantine, anything above getting relegated should probably be classed as a success. And Reading exceeded surely even the most optimistic of pre-season predictions. Veljko Paunovic Veljko Paunovic almost exclusively utilised a core group of players in a 4-2-3-1, only changing things when enforced. One of the consequences of that is that Reading had more players play over 3,000 minutes than any other side (roughly three-quarters of the season). That consistency is often seen as a good thing, but in a condensed season, it surely contributed to the injury woes. It can't have helped that the manager also used the second-fewest number of players over the course of the season. His substitutions were often categorised as late (Reading's subs played just 16 minutes on average, only Norwich's played fewer) or non-existent (Reading were 19t

Bournemouth 4-2 Reading

Reading slipped out of the promotion places for the first time this season after a fourth defeat. It looked like the international break had worked for the away side, after they lead by two goals at the break, only to concede four after half time. Semedo plays both a poor pass, and the wrong pass. Should drive, or pass to Aluko in space rather than trying a very difficult through ball. Before the game, I was critical of Alfa Semedo's continued inclusion, but it was his long legs nipping in before Begovic that won Reading their penalty. Despite that he just didn't offer enough in the rest of the match, costing his team going both ways. In the first half he had a great opportunity with a header - admittedly a chance he helped to create - but he got it completely wrong. As a defensive midfielder, heading should be well within his wheelhouse. Then there was the first time ball to try to put Ejaria through that went completely wrong, rather than easier pass to the completely unmarke