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Reading 3-2 Wigan

Reading showed three moments of quality to overcome a combative Wigan side.

Wigan's first goal comes down to a lack of midfield presence. Ejaria gets pushed off the ball, Yiadom dives in, and all of a sudden Wigan overload the box. Powell's finish trickles in, but was perfectly placed inside the corner. I did think there was a foul on Blackett with no real advantage, his foot seemed to get trodden on. That being said he didn't really break a sweat getting back, which is also an issue for Wigan Goal #2. If we're being super critical Moore probably gets himself a little too deep - actually ending up right in front of Martinez - and Baker should probably be tracking Powell's run. At the end of the day, we were in a bad position from the moment we lost the ball.

The first piece of real (Royal?) quality came with John Swift standing over the ball in first half stoppage time. In the programme versus Rotherham there was a fairly lengthy piece that touched on his dead ball technique and it was nice to see that work is paying off. The keeper seems to be far too close to his near post, and takes another step when the ball's struck, and then can't get back across. It's a beautiful goal though.

Playing out from the back is always a fairly risky strategy. On the most part the quality of our five January loanees has meant that we've been fine, however on Saturday one of Martinez's attempted bowl outs was intercepted. Blackett was again out of position (not his fault) with no sense of urgency to get back (probably his fault). A scramble in the box somehow ended with a mishit overhead kick finding an unmarked Joe Garner at the back post. Queue an all too familiar feeling of disappointment.

It must be said that Martinez redeemed himself later on. A ball in behind Blackett was pulled across the six yard box, but somehow the goalie managed to get himself in front of Powell's redirection. It was like having Al-Habsi back. One mistake, five huge saves.

Mo Barrow has played 122 minutes in the last two matches and has been dreadful for 120 of them, but if he keeps popping up with vital goals then I will absolutely accept him being a liability. I did not even know that he could strike a ball that well. He managed to find a pocket of space, take a terrible first touch, and still strike from twenty-five yards right into the bottom corner. I know Paul Cook was frustrated at the fact that Baker stole the ball before it got back to the keeper, but it was a drop ball. Once it bounces it's in play, and he was perfectly entitled to go for it. Particularly as Wigan were clearly trying to slow the ball down, again. I've seen Reading concede a goal while a substitution was still being made, so I feel like we deserve this.

Yakou Meite's winner is the reason I go to watch football. I believe it to be the definition of 'scenes'. A beautiful ball in from Harriott found Meite unmarked to head home. The reason he was unmarked - a fairly obvious foul on Jonas Olsson  - is incidental. It's encouraging to see a good ball into the box; it's been so long since we've had a decent corner taker. I don't think it's the defender's fault they only have three goals between them.

One thing I can agree with Paul Cook about is the standard of officiating was dreadful. Blackett was fouled for the first Wigan goal, the freekick for Reading's first goal was soft, and to complete the full circle, Olsson was bundled over for the last goal of the game. The referee failed to put his stamp on the game, and let Wigan waste as much time as they wanted. When the whistle went you could bet there was a yellow shirt to kick the ball away.

I fully expect for Leeds to batter us, because in the last two games we haven't played well despite picking up results. I'm not sure what Gomes can really do tonight but we need to find a holding midfielder who can actually break up play, otherwise we'll be in real trouble. However, I am more confident that we can pick something up away at Stoke which is a nice feeling.

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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.

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