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Reading 1-2 WBA

Sometimes teams are just better. And that was certainly part of the reason for the loss midweek, the other side of the coin is that Reading made too many basic mistakes that allowed the league leaders to capitalise.

Swift tries to force play through the middle. In this moment, we are all Yiadom. It also shows how wide Reading wanted to play with the full-backs.

Reading were always going to look better in the game against Hull. The Baggies attack more, which allowed Reading more space to play into, and defensively we've often been set up to soak up pressure from more aggressive sides. Even in this game though there were times when it was still difficult for Reading to get the ball forward.

It's good to see Puscas get a goal, even if it's from the penalty spot. On the whole, he had an alright game. A chance late on went begging when he didn't make a good connection, but there are signs that he's getting used the league a bit more. The penalty arose from Bartley inexplicably punching the ball, but there was some setup. Swift actually played the exact same ball in for the previous corner too, with slightly different runners, which also caused problems and led to the second corner and pen.

Interestingly Obita took over corner duty from the right at the end of the first half after Swift hit the first man with one of his. As implied, Reading actually caused problems from corners all match. Obita's first ended up with pinball inside the box, but there were too many bodies in front of Puscas for him to force home.

In the build-up to the goal Araruna presses and allows Krovinovic in behind him. HRK drops into the space opened up by Pereira dragging Pelé to the left

Initially, Pelé seemed to sit deeper, with Araruna and Swift in front of him. That was exploited by WBA by overloading that area of the pitch, and Reading's midfield couldn't deal with it. Araruna, in particular, seemed to work hard, but was poor positionally which allowed him to be bypassed too easily. There's an easy case to make that it almost directly leads to a goal. He leaves space which Krovinovic exploits; too easily playing the ball out to Robinson on the flank. His ball across is struck first time by an off-balance Pereira. There was no real danger from the initial chance, but Rafael didn't manage to push it wide enough and Pereira capitalised on the rebound. Our man between the sticks doesn't make many errors, but that was certainly one.

Morro tries his best to get someone to cover Robinson (pretty sure it should be Moore) but nobody ends up picking him up quick enough and he hits the bar.

Like West Brom, Reading were also given a warning before Bartley made amends for his mistake to put the away side in front. Reading defended a corner on the right-hand side well, but West Brom recycled possession, and found Robinson under little pressure on the left, despite Morrison trying to highlight that. His shot rattled the bar before the ball went out for another corner. Reading, again, defended the initial ball in well. But there was another man lurking at the back post who nodded over Rafael after West Brom manage to put the ball across at the second attempt.

Rino draws four players, and opens up space in behind. WBA regroup well, but Meite still gets a good shot off.

The subs were a mixed bag at best. Rinomhota is someone we've been crying out for, and his energy helped us to move up the pitch. He seemed to be everywhere. Our best chance in the second half came from him almost managing to round Johnstone but was forced too wide and their defence managed to get back to stop any further chance. Not only that but having him on the pitch freed up Pelé to venture further forwards, a couple of bursting runs with the ball catching the eye. In fact, both were able to commit players and open up space elsewhere. Something that could be a real benefit going forward.

What. We've. Been. Missing. Rino moves into space. Swift and Ejaria helpfully hiding behind players to further illustrate the point.

The subsequent replacement of Pelé - who had easily been our best player - for Charlie Adam, made little sense. We're up against a team that are lightning quick, and adept at winning balls in the air which almost entirely counteracts his strengths. I always think that the plan with Adam is for him to provide the impetus forward, which doesn't necessarily mean long balls toward the strikers but does often end up that way. Sure, West Brom had stopped pushing as far forward, and it did give him more opportunity on the ball, but on the whole, his passing was poor - as highlighted by his 50% success rate. To be fair, he did almost make an instant impact with the ball for Meite's disallowed goal, but it wasn't to be. That's the one ball - a beautiful cross from deep - that he has in his locker that our other options don't.

I'm also not convinced with bringing Baldock on, especially taking Swift off. Swift has been under some pressure recently, but he's still the main chance creator in the team. I appreciate that we are chasing the game, bringing on a striker seems a no-brainer, but Baldock was too easily marshalled out of the game by their defence. I'd have much rather seen a like-for-like swap with Olise instead (if we really wanted to substitute Swift), who seems adept at picking out pockets of space to play in, and wouldn't have allowed the defence to negate him quite so easily. I'm still miffed how Olise didn't get any game time, given that he would have been a better option than either Adam or Baldock. I think that my main problem is that the substitutions seem a little basic. It feels like Bowen was thinking we need to be more attacking, so the default option is just to take off the DM. And then we're chasing the game, so let's just chuck on another striker, without really thinking whether they're good substitutions.

At the end of the day, 2-1 is flattering to Reading. West Brom hit the bar twice, Livermore probably should have scored, and Reading's goal was gifted to them. Still, there were positive signs and some we actually managed to build on with a win away at Sheffield Wednesday (the benefit of writing a review after the next game).


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