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Reading 1-2 Norwich City

When stepping into the Madejski on Wednesday night I was, while not optimistic, confident that we'd see an improvement for the last home game against Sheffield Wednesday. What I got, however, was a horrible re-run.

You would have thought that all the discussion before the game would have been about not giving Teemu Pukki, the striker who has contributed to five goals in eight games, any room to add to his tally. Less than fifteen minutes Moore steps up for a challenge in midfield, which he manages to win, but the ball breaks loose to Todd Cantwell who has all the time in the world to pick out the striker. Yiadom had come across to cover for Moore, but dropped too deep which played the Finn onside and allowed him to curve the ball around Walker.

Maybe Ilori should have tracked the run, or actually attempt to make a tackle when he got close enough; or potentially Gunter could have made more of an effort to get back. Maybe one of the midfield three could have sat in the hole and saved Moore from having to rush into midfield, saving us from a 3-on-3 at the back. Instead Reading's defence managed to find the one scenario that ended with the ball in the back of the net.

The game wasn't all negative, as much as it may have felt at the final whistle. When Reading have played well this season it's been because of a high press which results in winning the ball and breaking quickly. However, for the last few matches it's been missing almost entirely. It was again absent for the early parts of midweek, but largely spurred on by Kelly it eventually started clicking into place. The flowing football that Norwich had enjoyed for much of the first half hour was stifled and we gained a platform.

In the first half hour Norwich had 65% possession. They absolutely dominated. They were able to shift the ball far too easily and get themselves out of tight spaces. From the 30th minute to Bodvarsson's goal we flipped that on its head and registered 57% ourselves, and played much closer to how I imagine the fans want us to in the process. On the front foot, pressing forward - the only problem is we weren't able to create much. Meite had a scorching 30 yard shot turned round the post, but Baldock up front by himself never feels like he'll be much of a threat.

The subs did seem to improve the side - and I think all three can question why they're on the bench. Bodvarsson's goal takes him to roughly one every 100 minutes, which puts him second in the league in terms of minutes per goal (of those with more than a couple). Barrow always seems like more of a threat than any of our other wingers when on song though that seems to be less frequently so far this season. Sims has obviously been a standout signing from the summer, but maybe his loan status is holding him back.

So having got level through Bodvarsson - with some nice work on the wing by Swift - we, swiftly, decided to throw it all away in favour of yet another home defeat. Ilori makes an interception that nobody reacts to, before going to ground and failing to win the ball - allowing his man to advance into the area. A low cross is half dealt with by Moore who can't adjust his feet quickly enough to get real contact on it. I thought that when Vrancic decides to take it off the foot of Cantwell, and instead turn in the area, he'd lost the chance, but not a single Reading player got close to him. Instead he turns and slides it into the far corner. Walker may be big but I think he got his angles a little wrong - basically clutching the near post when the shot comes in.

You can see in the reaction to that goal that the players are distraught. I've never really bought into the idea that these are players who don't care, or even that these are players that just aren't good enough. Bodvarsson is on a scoring hot streak, Barrow can tear defences to shreds, Kelly and Swift can split them apart, Moore and Ilori have proved themselves to be more than capable, Yiadom is the full back that people have been wanting for years, and Meite is still learning his trade but has potential. While I disagree with the complacency Kelly showed when he said that this team are too good to go down, I do agree that they should be but right now I can only see us being relegated.


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