Skip to main content

Nottingham Forest 1-0 Reading

Starting with two ties against promotion chasing sides was never going to be the ideal way to kick off the season, but once again Reading largely held their own in a tight encounter - only to be edged out late on.

Again, The Royals probably had the better of the early exchanges in a somewhat surprising, not-seen in yonks 4-4-2 formation. Firm twitter favourite Yakou Meite finally getting a start on the right wing, while Sam 'The Saviour' Baldock played off Bodvarsson. The set-up worked much like against Derby, with a high press harrying Forest who never really settled. The only real issue was that the ball kept bouncing off our Icelandic giant.

Both wingers seemed to have the freedom to drift inside, and linked up in the middle of the pitch for Reading's best chance of the game - Barrow sliding in Meite, who was put under pressure as he shot and didn't manage to get any real power. Similar in style to Bodvarsson's miss last week, although this was in an even better position.

Forest were almost ahead before half-time as the otherwise impressive Ilori allowed Grabban to wander in behind, though Mannone stayed big from a tight angle. As an aside I wasn't a massive fan of the Reading fans getting at Grabban - played out of position for much of the season he was here, but still made an impact at points.

There was also a lofted ball down the middle that the Forest player - who I know have no recollection of - failed to bring down. He still had a bit to do, but it was a fine ball to put him in a good position.

After criticising Kelly last week for a lack of composure he had a bigger impact at the weekend. A couple of much better free-kicks and balls over the top for Jon Dadi, probably helped by the fact that there was actually someone staying up top to play the balls to.

The goal, in many ways, was just unfortunate. McShane blocks a shot, it ricochets awkwardly for Blackett to get a hold of, and it pops loose for Soudani to curl, beautifully, into the net. Maybe Tyler should have been stronger but we have definitely conceded worse goals.

Barrow started to become more influential as we were chasing the game, putting in a couple of decent balls - and taking on his full back more than he had done in the first half, but to no avail. It was surprising how content we seemed to be with a measured build up play when we'd stuck Bod and Meite up front - I would have been pinging balls into them all day long.

Again left to rue a moment of quality, but promising signs. The real test was always going to be this run of games against sides who'll be struggling come the end of the season: Bolton, Blackburn, Sheffield Wednesday comprise three of the next four league matches.

Plus we can look forward to seeing some of the fringe players start in tomorrow's Carabao Cup game. Walker could put more pressure on Mannone with a good performance, Popa if fit, and Clement - who may feel a little unlucky to not be closer to the starting XI given his positive pre-season - are all surely candidates to make a start.


Popular posts from this blog

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

The Big Man Cometh

In the grand scheme of things, I consider myself a bit of an Andy Carroll sceptic. Reading have a penchant for signing players that spend the majority of their time in the physio room, and Carroll aligns with that transfer policy to a tee. It must be said that given the lack of other options, and a short term deal that has no real risk for the club, there isn't any big downside in gambling on the Geordie. With that being said, even I was calling out for the introduction for The Big Man at half-time on Saturday. Reading had a heap of possession just outside the box in the opening forty-five but couldn't translate that into chances. Drinkwater had a tame shot saved after good work from Yiadom, but the best chance of the half fell to Puscas after a fortuitous deflection off a Forest player. The flag went up for offside but it didn't matter as the striker couldn't convert anyway. Both managers had done a fairly good job at negating the other side's strengths. Forest'

"We’ve never been so flat"

There have been some abysmal Reading performances this season, I don't really need to list them out. But in that dirge, there are two performances that I haven't fully come to terms with my feelings on. The visits of Sheffield United and Luton to The SCL are a clash between feeling like the concept behind the tactics was  reasonable and the implementation clearly not working. But there's one issue with my reading of the game; Veljko himself wasn't happy with either performance. In fact, he used the exact same word to label both - 'flat'. Reading's three in midfield meant they could cover SU attacking midfielders and wing backs And yet, the set-ups for both seem to perfectly explain why the team may be flat. Against The Blades they switched to a 4-3-2-1, with Ejaria dropping deeper to form the three alongside Drinkwater and Laurent. That trio were effectively tasked with stopping McGoldrick and Gibbs-White from being able to come central. On Wednesday we may