Magic McCarthy ends Royals' losing run
13th April 2013
Reading ended their eight-game losing run, as they fought valiantly in a goalless game with Liverpool at the Madejski Stadium.
Royals boss Nigel Adkins made four changes to the team that lost to Southampton last week, with three being inforced, as Adam Federici, Hope Akpan and Hal Robson-Kanu carrying respective injuries, being replaced by Alex McCarthy, Garath McCleary and Noel Hunt. It was also a Madejski return for former manager Brendan Rodgers, who witnessed his side make the brighter of starts to the game.
A smart dummy from Daniel Sturridge allowed Luis Suarez to reign free ahead of the Royals backline and his clever chip deceived Alex McCarthy, but not Chris Gunter, who made a superb clearance on the line to keep the game scoreless. Sturridge was involved again minutes later, as Suarez's pass dissected the defence and set the forward through, but despite being forced wide by Kelly, forced a solid stop out of Alex McCarthy.
Jamie Carragher has not scored for nearly seven years, but may not have come closer to doing so since, as his header from Gerrard's corner just went wide of the crossbar. The pressure from the visitors continued and despite his early heroics, Gunter almost turned villain, as his poor square pass was intercepted and Suarez almost profited, but McCarthy revived his team mate by palming away the striker's effort.
Reading struggled to get up the pitch, with Liverpool dictating the play in the game, as you would expect from a Rodgers side. Henderson was next to try his luck at the Reading goal, but his volley was deflected wide in spectacular fashion by Sean Morrison. From the resulting corner, McCarthy was to the rescue again, as he thwarted Sturridge at point blanc range at his far post.
Nigel Adkins would consider his side lucky to go in level at the break, but obviously would view the positive side, as he should. The dominance from Liverpool continued into the second period and the Reds thought they were infront minutes in, as Suarez's clever finish from Gerrard's cross appeared to give them the lead, but the linesmans' flag rightly denied the Uruguayan his goal.
Countinho had been in solid form for Rodgers' side in previous games, but wasn't enjoying his afternoon at the Madejski Stadium much. However, he almost made amends for his average performance with a fine effort from the edge of the box that beat McCarthy, but also beat the post. The Royals did show massive improvement in the second period though and forced the rather quiet Pepe Reina into a save.
Pavel Pogrebnyak was set away down the left side and his low, drilled cross was attacked by Noel Hunt and would have thought he would have given Reading the lead, only to see the Spaniard pull off a great save to deny the Irishman. The home side were growing in confidence and McCleary's cross fell kindly to the feet of McAnuff and once the skipper sorted his feet out, forced another save out of Reina, thanks to a deflection off Johnson.
Luis Suarez wasn't his usual prolific-self infront of goal in this game, but almost provided a piece of individual brilliance with a 25-yard free kick, that fizzed just wide of the post. With fifteen minutes to play, the Alex McCarthy Show was to get into full swing. Firstly, he kept out a stinging effort from Steven Gerrard with a strong hand, before showing superb handling by holding a fierce volley from Luis Suarez in the area.
Well into injury time, the keeper was called upon again to deny Suarez, palming away his drive after breezing past Stephen Kelly. The full time whistle was blown and the name of Alex McCarthy was booming around the Madejski, in what was a superb individual performance. A performance that Royals fans were proud of, despite us riding our luck at various times in the game. Onwards and upwards!
Reading - 4-4-2: McCarthy, Gunter, Morrison, Mariappa, Kelly, Karacan, Guthrie, McAnuff, McCleary, Hunt, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Harte, Pearce, Carrico, Leigertwood, Blackman, Le Fondre
Liverpool - 4-3-3: Reina, Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Enrique, Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard, Coutinho, Sturridge, Suarez
Subs: Jones, Coates, Skrtel, Shelvey, Suso, Downing, Assaidi