Skip to main content

Reading 1-1 Rotherham United

Surprise, surprise another draw against a fellow relegation rival. On the whole disappointment reigns after another promising start only to tail off in the second half.

Rotherham were pretty content to sit back in the first half - which let Reading play their football. Culminating in a goal that is pretty much the definition of Gomes football. The majority of the team touched the ball in a flowing, counter-attacking move from back to front which Ejaria finished into the top right corner.

That meant that in the second the away side needed to show more impetus, and they took control of the match. Reading dropped deeper and deeper until the inevitable happened. While Rotherham may have earnt their title as route one specialists, their goal was well worked. A beautiful ball in the from the centre-right nodded down to Ajayi who finished from within the six yard box under Martinez.

Both sides had chances to win it - in fact Reading had numerous. Oliveira missed from two yards following a rebound off the keeper from McCleary's shot. They'd broke forward with numbers but failed to convert. The striker did need to adjust his body, but seemed to have enough time. After recycling the ball Ejaria could have grabbed his second - slaloming into the box and shooting at the keeper - but he failed to find a corner on that occasion.

Then there were a couple of 'half-chances' for The Royals. Rotherham's goalscorer did just enough to put off Miazga, who nodded wide at the back post. Then Baker wasted another header as he, completely unmarked, found the arms of the keeper from about 15 yards.

Late on Barrow capitalised on some confusion between Rotherham's CB and keeper to nip in between them. His momentum took him wide of the 18 yard box, but he needed more composure to either find a better shot, or pick out Oliveira inside the penalty area. In the end he just trickled the ball across and the keeper managed to get back and smother it.

At the other end, Joe Newell missed to the right from the penalty spot after another long throw into the box. Given that Reading didn't convert their own chances, I don't think there could have been any complaints had Rotherham snatched it at the end - but thank goodness they didn't.

Let's be real - Reading should have won this game. Rotherham may have pinned them in their own half for much of the second forty-five, but even then they had chances on the break. McCleary had the beating of their back four on almost every occasion but then either didn't have the support, or stuttered when he got into a position to shoot.

That's why many people found bringing on O'Shea for Meite to be such a surprise, rather than unleashing one of Harriott or Barrow. Especially given that their impact was obvious when they did come on. It did, at least in my mind, make sense to bring on Reading's most decorated player. Early in the season his best strength was reading the aerial ball, and winning every header. He was brought on to sit in front of the defence and try to deal with the long ball, alongside being an asset at set pieces. Ejaria, who drifts about enough anyway, moved out wide where he could try to continue his influence in the final third. There was logic there.

I do think that it was a good time to bring on a new winger, given the holes that Rotherham were leaving. When they did get on they had their equaliser and didn't need to throw everybody forward. Personally I would have kept Ejaria in the middle - he was having a great game - and instead make a double sub. Swap Meite for Barrow, whose pace would be devastating that late in the match, and bring O'Shea on for Baker.

I don't want to get on the back of Oliveira - not that one man and his blog is really going to affect him - but he didn't have a good game. Often too selfish, shooting or going alone when a pass is a better option. He was dispossessed for Rotherham's goal, and had no real impact at the other end. The one aspect that really frustrated me is his miss from two yards - not so much for the miss itself but the fact he spent the next phase of play on the floor, or meandering back into play still offside. We still had possession, and still had a real opportunity but he didn't make himself an option. Normally I'd say his work rate is one of his real positives, but in that moment it was a real issue.

On the flip side, I do think that there were some good performances. Ejaria, obviously, but also Swift - who ran Reading's attacks, and McCleary. You could argue that Swift drifted in and out, but the team as a whole had dropped so deep that he had no real ability to dictate play at that point. He needs that water carrier who allows him to play higher up the pitch. Ideally he needs Ezatolahi back, but it could be that we've seen his last game in a blue and white shirt already. Moore also deserves a special mention for a couple of great blocks.

While many billed it as a must win, and it absolutely was two points dropped, I think it was more important we did not lose. We still have big, winnable games against Ipswich and Wigan up next but if we don't come back with at least four points there I think we're in more trouble.

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 …