Date:Tuesday May 6 2014
After what has been a disappointing campaign on the pitch, despite various constraints off it, Vital Reading gives an overview of the best and worst performances, goals, teams and players.
Best Player - Pavel Pogrebnyak - I wouldn`t argue with Obita being named player of the season, but if there is one player I wouldn`t begrudge a move it`s Pog. His transformation from being completely unwanted to becoming our best striker in a matter of months has been incredible. Along with McCarthy and Gunter, has probably been one of the first names on Adkins` team sheet, leading the line superbly and chipping in with a credible 13 goals this campaign.
Best buy - Danny Williams - When you look at the four players that were brought in over the summer and in January (albeit only one in Jan), this one isn`t hard. The style American midfielder has been likened to that of Royals legend Steve Sidwell, with his tenacious and tireless box-to-box approach. It`s just a shame that his injuries halted what could have built upon a very good first season in England for Williams.
Worst buy - Wayne Bridge - Don`t get me wrong, the former England international had a very good start to life at the Madejski Stadium, showing the quality and experience he had in abundance he bought with him here. However, he suffered a lengthy injury absence and was seemingly rushed back last month and was constantly over-ran. While it did unveil the talent of Obita at left-back, I`m sure we could have done without paying his wages while on the sidelines - will probably be released in the summer.
Biggest flop - Royston Drenthe - Arguably the biggest signing in our history, but probably proved why he made the call to drop down to the English second tier. You have to sympathise with him in that he was reportedly being forced out the club in January, but I`m sure that fairly average form and a few injury and fitness problems didn`t help him. There was the odd moment where Royston showcased his quality seen from his Real Madrid days, but we did not see anywhere near enough of it.
Best home performance - Bolton - 7-1 win - Our home form has been pretty dire this season and probably cost us a play-off spot or maybe even more, but this game was really extraordinary. We raced into a 4-0 lead at half-time, before putting another three past Dougie Freedman`s side after the break, although they got a late consolation - watching Matt Mills suffer probably made it that much better too. Even though we drew those games, the 3-3 Watford and 2-2 Burnley results displayed good attacking quality, just not the defending!
Worst home performance - Barnsley - 3-1 loss - Probably no arguments with this one, as the bottom side came to the Madejski on a cold, Tuesday night and played us off the park. Chris Gunter`s poor backpass allowed the Tykes to take advantage early on, but we received a rest bite when Pog equalised with a penalty - any further response from us was non-existent though. Instead, the away side came out all guns firing in the second half and scored two sublime goals through Noble-Lazarus and Dale Jennings. It was a purely gutless performance.
Best away performance - QPR - 3-1 win - Closely rivalled by the same scoreline against Derby, but are a very different side now compared to then. The QPR performance was completely unexpected, but was a massive result to not only halt Rangers` advance to the auto places, but to help our own play-off aspirations. Danny Williams started the scoring with a good team move, before former Royal Kevin Doyle equalised. The second half was great from our point of view though, as two goals in as many minutes, including a wonderful goal from McCleary, secured a massive victory against one of the best defensive sides in the league.
Worst away performance - Middlesbrough - 3-0 loss - I will not count the Peterborough massacre as it was only the league cup and I don`t want to recount that awful night. Boro were going into it in good form, while ourselves the polar opposite and it really did play by the form book, as we were outplayed for 90 minutes. We merely mustered four shots on goal all game, as the home side deservedly ran out clear winners. Bournemouth and Sheffield Wednesday were not good ones either, but at least we showed some form of fight and while Wigan was also bad, Boro finishing 12th made this look slightly more embarrassing.
Best goal - Garath McCleary vs Burnley - Our top three goals have probably been scored by him this season, but this was one was simply magical. The technique from him to hit the ball on the volley from the edge of the area and for it to arrow into the top corner was something special. It was a goal worthy of winning any game, but while it gave us a platform, it unfortunately meant for nothing, as we couldn't find that all crucial winner.
Best team we have played this season - Bournemouth - Having been to both games, we were played off the park on both occasions, losing to an aggregate score of 5-2. Eddie Howe`s side did what Nigel Adkins has wanted to do all season - quick tempo, fluid football and playing between the lines, which we really could not handle in either game. In both games, Matt Ritchie also proved what a superb player he is at this level, scoring three of their five goals against us.
Date:Tuesday May 6 2014
Boss hints at international break relief (Tuesday September 2 2014)
Deadline day round up: One in, one out (Tuesday September 2 2014)
Deadline day rumour update (Monday September 1 2014)
Club to be 'active' on deadline day (Monday September 1 2014)
Gaffer pleased with Royals' determination (Sunday August 31 2014)
Stats: Middlesbrough v Reading (Sunday August 31 2014)
Cox goal secures good away victory for Royals (Sunday August 31 2014)
Middlesbrough 0 - 1 Reading (Saturday August 30 2014)
Key man watch: Albert Adomah (Saturday August 30 2014)
Middlesbrough (A) Match Preview (Friday August 29 2014)
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