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Reading 0-0 Middlesbrough

Normal service resumed at the Madejski as The Royals didn't manage to find the net for the fourth time in the last six home matches. The point leaves Reading seven points from the relegation zone, but also only a measly eleven points from the play-offs with a run of games against those outside of the top six.

The game itself was interesting for a number of reasons: the first league match without Glenn Murray, who doesn't look like he'll be joining Reading any time soon; the continuing re-emergence of Gunter, freed from the captaincy; and the strange sequence of decisions that tend to make up a Saturday afternoon for Michael Hector.

It was obvious from the outset that Boro were going to cause problems, and as they should sitting fourth in the table, twenty-one goals to the good in GD column. Hector's first error of the match was to try to win the ball back after he'd miscontrolled it, effectively leaving Pearce with a two-on-one to deal with, but thankfully they managed to miss the target. The game was as much about missed chances as it was about brilliance from Adam Federici. Both were showcased in the first half as Adam Reach skied over from six yards, but a good interception from Pearce and a great save from Federici both contributed to keeping the score at 0-0. In fact the best thing to come from our frontline was Pogrebnyak putting in a great tackle, there's a first time for everything!

Thirty seconds after the break Middlesbrough should've found themselves cruising to victory after Bamford broke down the right but his cross was behind his team-mates. Reading did eventually find a foothold, Robson-Kanu seems to be a favourite with the management team if not the fans, but was so close to finding his way in behind after Cox slipped a ball through but a terrific tackle managed to stop him in his tracks. Pogrebnyak never managed to jump high enough from an Obita cross as he headed over, and the game finally managed to find a spark when the left-back was booked for what looked like a fantastic tackle - although whether the card was for the initial 'foul' or the reaction it's hard to tell.

Other than that there's obviously the magnificent save by Federici from Bamford but there was never any real threat to the other end. Gunter's link-up was often the highlight, finding space in-behind as he did so often last season, but Norwood and Robson-Kanu were ineffective at best. Karacan finally came back after his injury which is obviously a huge plus, although we play Leeds in a few weeks so the comeback may be shortlived. He's exactly the kind of player we're lacking at the moment though, somebody who will sit in front of the back four and win the ball, hopefully allowing Williams to play higher up the field and make those bursting runs that got us out of trouble on a few occasions last year.

Although it doesn't sound like we'll be dipping into the transfer market it would be really nice to bring in a new CB to play alongside Pearce. I like Hector but he's not ready yet, far too often he picks the wrong decision and he's let off the hook too much. I wouldn't mind Cooper getting a few games under his belt either, with seven games in the next month to play. Pogrebnyak clearly doesn't have the fitness yet, he looked absolutely drained even before he was replaced by Blackman on the hour mark - there was one opportunity to get in the box that could have created a scoring chance but the guy just couldn't (or, admittedly, wouldn't) make up the ground. So it will be interesting to see how Blackman has to cope if he's to be relied upon - he showed at Huddersfield he has the ability but fulfilling it is a completely different kettle of fish.

Thankfully Wolves took Fulham to penalties in their FA Cup replay, and with over 2,000 travelling fans this is a great chance to put some more space between us and the drop zone. Obviously with a win Fulham would move above us, and then with the next game being Millwall away things start to look rather fragile.


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