Inconsistent Royals beaten by Rovers
Saturday 22nd February 2014
Reading fell to their second consecutive home defeat at the hands of Blackburn Rovers, with Craig Conway getting the first half winner at the Madejski Stadium.
Nigel Adkins once again named an unchanged team, highlighting the consistency factor in his pre-match quotes ahead of this game. It was the Royals who were making the early running in this one, putting some good passing moves together in the final third, but it was the final ball that was letting them down, which would welcome a consistent feature of the game for us.
Jobi McAnuff had a half chance when good play through the middle allowed Pogrebnyak to slot the skipper into space on the left side, allowing him to cut into the area, but his effort at goal was weak and easy for Robinson to gather. McCleary`s dangerous cross then caused problems a few minutes later, but Hanley took it off the head of the Pog with a good interception.
Blackburn were struggling to get into the game, but were dealing comfortably with the attacking threats of the home side. A short corner allowed Akpan a half sight of goal in the area from a tight angle, with a deflection sending it wide for another corner. Gestede had the first effort for the away side, connecting with his shot well but went of Alex McCarthy`s post.
From a Reading free kick in an advanced position, it was the visitors who took the lead. Jordan Obita lined up the free kick, but was blocked and cleared way, with the skipper Jobi McAnuff attempting to retrieve the ball from the half way line, but instead put Chris Gunter in trouble with a weak header, allowing Craig Conway space to fire into the net and give Rovers the lead on 35 minutes.
It took a big deflection off the captain as he attempted to atone for his mistake, but will still go down as the Scotsman`s goal on his first start for Blackburn. You could argue it wasn`t deserved, but despite our possession, we really failed to work Robinson at all. Jordan Rhodes nearly ended his goal drought minutes later with a superb turn-and-volley, but McCarthy was equal to it.
Reading were starting to look shaky at the back, as Rhodes had another half chance, this time a cross deep into the penalty area managed to find the striker unmarked, but his header didn`t have enough power on it to test McCarthy. Pogrebnyak had a great chance to equalise just before half time, as Le Fondre found him in space, but the Russia spooned it over the bar after it took a bad bobble.
After the half time break, injuries on both sides slowed the game down, which was obviously going to favour Blackburn. Adkins opted to make a triple substitution on the hour mark, bringing Guthrie, Drenthe and Robson-Kanu into the fray, in attempt to rescue the game. Then was to come the game`s turning point and surprise, surprise - another refereeing decision not going our way.
After a scramble in the Rovers area involving Robson-Kanu and Alfie, with the latter having a clear sight of goal, but it appeared that a Rovers defender used a hand to deflect the ball away from the striker from scoring. There were heavy appeals to the linesman on that side, as it appeared he missed a blatant decision, which would have also been a red card for the Rovers player.
Drenthe then had a good chance at the back post, as Obita`s cross missed everyone but the eccentric Dutchman, but appeared to rush his effort and smashed it just wide. Rovers came within inches of doubling their lead, as Craig Conway`s free kick was just wide of McCarthy`s left-hand post. We were getting in good positions in the final third, but the final ball was really lacking.
Royston Drenthe was struggled to make an impact so far in the Championship, but very nearly proved his qualities, jinking past his man before having an effort twenty yards out, but went just wide. Reading couldn`t conjure up any decent opportunities, as we were going too direct in the latter stages, with Blackburn looking very comfortable, settling for their 1-0 lead.
As nine minutes of added time were signalled, there was the odd scramble in the Rovers penalty area, but still not enough pressure. I suppose the most disappointing aspect was the fact that we didn`t create any clear cut opportunities, with just one shot on target all game. The end product was nowhere near good enough, which has to be addressed by Adkins in training next week.
It was another home defeat without scoring too, which will create concern among some fans, but we are still sixth, so there is no need for panic. We have a chance to put things right against Yeovil next week at home, so we need to focus on doing that. We still have 14 games to go and we will play worse teams than Blackburn between that time, so we should still have hopes of the play offs.
Reading - 4-4-2: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Obita, McCleary, Williams, Akpan, McAnuff, Le Fondre, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Federici, Hector, Kelly, Guthrie, Robson-Kanu, Drenthe, Blackman
Blackburn - 4-4-2: Robinson, Henley, Kilgallon, Hanley, Spurr, Cairney, Williamson, Lowe, Conway, Gestede, Rhodes
Subs: Eastwood, Kane, Evans, Dunn, Taylor, Olsson, Varney