Skip to main content

Norwich City 2-2 Reading

Given the weekend's capitulation against Hull a midweek trip to the top of the league could be seen as another potential stumbling block on Reading's road to safety. As it happened, it was another sign of the progress being made under The Best Manager in World Football, José Gomes. As an early aside, the man's never even made it to two years in the main role so I'm going to be gutted when he inevitably leaves.

Even pre-match it was fairly obvious that The Royals weren't going to throw the kitchen sink in search of three points. A back five, complete with Chris Gunter, were protected by three in midfield - Baker, Rinomhota, and Ejaria. Méité and Barrow continue their partnership given that Oliveira was, as Football Manager would say, ineligible.

Midway through the first period, and definitely against the run of play, Barrow raced onto a loose pass. Under Clement not a lot would have come of the situation, but Gomes' Barrow knocked the ball past the defender, and played it low into Méité. The big Ivorian still had a fair amount to do, being on the left corner of the six yard box but with one, beautiful movement he turned and fired high past Krul.

For the next fifty minutes Reading put on an away performance clinic. They wasted time at virtually every opportunity - the sort of game management we've lacked, the defense worked well as a unit, and when they were breached Martinez pulled off some fine saves. Crucially, they managed to drag a fairly decent Norwich side to their level. Pukki in particular had a dreadful day in front of goal, only hitting the target with one of six attempts.

Not only that, but the two up the other end continued to cause a nuisance of themselves. Méité had a glorious chance after more good work from Barrow. On his left foot he pulled the ball across the face. He has to work on that; a very similar miss almost cost us against Blackburn earlier in the year.

It was, however, fairly inevitable that a team famed for late goals this season would eventually break through. And, where the forwards had failed, up step the centre backs. Ben Godfrey played a little one-two on the edge of the area before rifling into the top corner, before Zimmerman headed in from a corner. For a sport often so hard to predict, sometimes matches just follow the script.

It's fairly easy to be critical of both goals. A give and go shouldn't take Rinomhota and Méité out of the game, and really someone should have been out quicker to the danger. Plus in hindsight it's very easy to talk about having a man on the back post for the corner. But these were players who played their heart out for 85 minutes, and succumbed to the champions elect. A side who have scored almost 25% of their goals in the final ten minutes. There's no shame in that.

All of a sudden we seemed in slightly more of a hurry - I don't think it was due to Norwich that the referee signalled a further six minutes. With seconds remaining in added time Norwich almost broke away, only for Yiadom to win an excellent tackle to keep play in their half. Andy Rinomhota eventually picked the ball up with the clock ticking over into the 97th minute, played it out to Garath McCleary, who squareed up his defender on the edge of the box. Stiepermann raced out to stop the danger, leaving Rinomhota entirely unmarked, and McCleary played it through the German's legs back to the future Player of the Season winner.  His strike was basically a mirrored version of Godfrey's; straight into the top corner.

The entirety of Norwich's defending for that passage of play was suspect, but I would argue it's no less than what Reading deserved. Farke's comments post-match were almost laughable; There's more than one way to win a football match. And it serves to show how little Sky Sports pundits seem to know about us. I have no problems with them thinking that we're the most likely to get relegated - most days I think the same thing - but to argue that we don't have the fight means they haven't actually watched any games recently.

Any gameweek in which Rotherham drop points and we take something away has to be celebrated. This weekend they travel to Stoke - where they could definitely pick up some kind of result - so that keeps the pressure on. Realistically we have to keep picking up points at home because, as good as this result was, our away form this year hasn't been good. I think one win will be good enough to see us safe, but it's been such a tumultuous year that I'm not certain of anything.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Scout Report: Brentford

It almost feels superfluous to write about a Brentford team who have already been covered so extensively. Famed for their player recruitment the core of their side is a young, attack-minded group of players who seemingly love to play together. They tend to play 4-3-3, with Watkins as the main striker, and Benrahma and Mbeumo attempting to find space to either side of him. The midfield three is given stability by Christian Norgaard in the holding role, while Dasilva and Jensen are free to push on. Even goalkeeper David Raya Martin is crucial to the team's attacking intent. His quick distribution reminiscent of Marcus Hahnemann bowling out to Bobby Convey to set the winger away. That said defensively the Spaniard can occasionally be caught out, infamously allowing Ryan Tafazolli to pass the ball from the halfway line into the Brentford net. That's not the only mistake he's made this year - a missed punch condemned Brentford to a loss at Kenilworth Road, and similarly lead to

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

Starting the Year Renew

Ah, 2023. A new year. A time to take stock of what you have, and look forward to the twelve months ahead. The first thing on Paul Ince's plate is to renew Andy Carroll and Amadou Mbengue's contracts - something he's been very vocal about wanting to do. Mbengue is a difficult one. Yes, he is undoubtedly an exciting prospect but this is a club with six other senior centre backs. He'd be useful cover elsewhere, namely at right back, but Kelvin Abrefa has also showed some promise in that position in his, albeit small, cameos so far. Ince has already said his preferred back three is Yiadom, Holmes, and Sarr. Mbengue could be first-choice backup on the right side of that three, but given Yiadom is captain and played more minutes than anyone outside of Ince and Hendrick, realistically he won't get much of a look in. Likewise TMc is probably ahead of him for Sarr's spot. Shifting Moore and Dann in the summer still leaves him in the same position - and that's before