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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Reading 0-3 Wigan

Where do you start after an absolute drubbing?

Probably at the root problem, and that was Mark Bowen's tactics. Now, I have no particular issues with 4-4-2 as a system, but I think it's a horrible formation for our collection of players. The 4-1-4-1 works because the two unconvential wide men push up and in toward the striker to form an offensive three (in some way). In a 4-4-2 they have to act as more legitimate wingers, because the two up front are operating in the advanced space. So the decision to play Ejaria - not a particularly quick or direct player - on one wing, with Araruna - someone who has never been in position - is just terrible decision making. It, yet again, screams of Bowen's basic decision process. More attacking = no DM, more strikers.

Please don't get me started on the comment that everyone should know how to play it. You still have to pick the right players.


Not only that, but Wigan were able to play through the lines too easily. With Morsy, Willia…

Bowen's Brand New Box

The first game of pre-season is done, and wasn't it an interesting one? Mark Bowen previewed a brand new 3-6-1, with more central midfielders than anybody could have dreamt of. As theorized we played a back-three and wing-backs. The midfield, however, had that unexpected additional body, meaning that Joao played as a lone striker.Consistency is a much sought after commodity in football, so I suppose it can be classed as a positive that there's only a single new recruit in the squad. Laurent's role as one of the deeper midfielders was slightly surprising, because everything from his stint at Shrewsbury implied that he's a similar, but more offensive player than Rinomhota. Swift takes the majority of the ball, so he's not expected to be the main playmaker, but he was comfortable in possession and picks the right pass when needed. Plus his pressing, and positional play were encouraging.Morrison played in the centre of defensive trio. When he was in possession McIntyre…

A Potted History of Veljko Paunović

Veljko Paunović is Reading manager. The Serbian is a relative unknown here, but after leading his home nation to the U20 World Cup he put his name on the proverbial map. That lead to taking over at MLS side Chicago Fire in 2015, where he stayed for four years before being fired with one of the worst ever MLS records. For the past year, he's been unemployed.Serbia's victory at the U20 World Cup in New Zealand was a surprise. 2015 remains the only tournament that Serbia has qualified for since the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The tournament opened with a loss to Uruguay, a game in which they played a 3-6-1. For the subsequent group games they switched to a 4-2-3-1 or alternated to a 4-1-4-1; both Mali and Mexico were dispatched 2-0.They kept the same set-up for the knock-out phase, but were never as convincing, needing extra time in every round. An injury-time equaliser against Hungary combined with an own goal in the round of 16, penalties were required to see off The USA in the …