Royals bow out of Premier League with defeat
19th May 2013
Reading suffered defeat in their last Premier League game of the season, as they lost 4-2 to West Ham, despite a resurgent second-half comeback.
Nigel Adkins opted to make one change from the Royals` defeat against Manchester City, with the rather strange choice to bring in exiled defender Kaspars Gorkss, who has not played for Reading for five months. Adrian Mariappa was the player who was dropped for the Latvian captain, presumably to cope with West Ham`s direct style and physical presence.
It was an open start at Upton Park, with McCleary forcing the first save of the game from Jaaskelainen, before Andy Carroll could not get good enough contact on the end of Noble`s deep cross. Reading were having some joy down the Hammers` left hand side and Jobi McAnuff`s cross was met by Pogrebnyak, but Jaaskelainen was alert to palm away the Russian`s header.
Danny Guthrie has looked a very different player under the leadership of Adkins and almost scored his first goal in eight months, as his fizzing drive from 25 yards went just wide. It was a good spell for the away side and Chris Gunter had the best chance of the game so far, as Robson-Kanu`s smart flick set his compatriot through, but his finish did not test the keeper.
Alex McCarthy has been the star of the show for the past few games, backed up by his England call-up during the week, but gifted the hosts the lead in comical fashion. The young keeper received a pass back, but smashed his clearance off the back of Andy Carroll and fell kindly into the path of Kevin Nolan, who could not miss with an open goal.
It was starting to fall apart for Reading, as McCarthy made amends for his mistake, clawing Andy Carroll`s header onto the crossbar. Despite this superb save, Sam Allardyce`s side did eventually gain a two-goal cushion. Decent build up play down the right-hand side from Joe Cole and Demel, gave space and time for Ricardo Vaz Te to direct his effort into the corner.
Adkins` side looked shell-shocked and it could well have got worse if it wasn`t for the post, as Vaz Te smashed an effort onto the woodwork. The Royals boss opted to make two changes at the break, bringing on the attacking duo of Adam Le Fondre and Nick Blackman for Pavel Pogrebnyak and Hal Robson-Kanu, a move which changed the game.
Reading proved to be the dominant side after the break and deservedly got themselves back into the game, with Garath McCleary`s deflected effort carrying great power and giving Jaaskelainen no chance in goal. Just minutes later, the Royals were level, as the two substitutes combined, with Nick Blackman`s superb cross proving perfect for Adam Le Fondre to tap in at the back post.
Reading were pushing for a third goal and Chris Gunter and Garath McCleary were linking well on the right wing, but the final delivery was lacking in quality. The Hammers were starting to come back into the game, with Gorkss blocking Joe Cole`s effort well enough. However, Kevin Nolan regained the lead for West Ham, calmly slotting home past Alex McCarthy after a clever pass from Noble.
That goal took the life out of Reading and the home side continued to push for another goal and did so, as Maiga`s cross left Gorkss flat-footed and Nolan completed his hat trick with a header from five yards. The final whistle blew to signify the end of the campaign for both sides who were promoted last season, but one side proving to have a much more successful season than the other.
Vital Reading verdict: The game was a good summary of our season, no expectation, but false hope. It was a fairly even encounter, but the difference in quality in front of goal and defending was evident. Despite this and with Adkins only having one win in eight games, I am very confident that Adkins will bring success to our club next season.
West Ham - 4-4-1-1: Jaaskelainen, Demel, Collins, Reid, O`Brien, Noble, Diame, J Cole, Vaz Te, Nolan, Carroll
Subs: Henderson, Tomkins, Taylor, O'Neil, Collison, Paulista, Maiga
Reading - 4-2-3-1: McCarthy, Gunter, Gorkss, Morrison, Kelly, Karacan, Guthrie, McCleary, Robson-Kanu, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Pearce, Mariappa, Akpan, Carrico, Blackman, Le Fondre
Le Fondre 6