Royals and Rams in stalemate
Saturday 15th March 2014
Both Reading and Derby were guilty of missing good chances in their stalemate at the Madejski Stadium, which saw the Royals drop out of the play-off spots.
Royals boss Nigel Adkins made no changes to the line-up that beat Leeds 4-2 on Tuesday night, meaning Hal Robson-Kanu lead the line instead of Adam le Fondre and Pavel Pogrebnyak, who were both on the bench. Like we do with most of our home games as of late, we started well in terms of tempo and pressure, but couldn`t create any clear cut opportunities to trouble the away side.
Royston Drenthe was looking lively and his free kick wide on the left created problems for the Derby defence, but was headed over the bar to safety by a Rams defender. Jamie Ward and Jordan Obita was becoming a good battle in the first half of this game, but when the former got the better of the young left back, Gunter did well to hack away, with Chris Martin lurking in the penalty area.
From the resulting pressure, Craig Bryson tried his luck from long range, but his effort fizzed just wide of McCarthy`s post. Drenthe probably had the Royals` best chance of the first half, as Gunter`s superb reverse pass set the Dutchman away down the right side, but after cutting in, he could only fire his effort into the side netting, much to the frustration of the home crowd at the Madejski.
The best chance of the half came in the closing stages of it, as Reading fell asleep from a corner kick, as a quick one into the near post was somehow fired over from point blanc range from Craig Forsyth. It was a half probably shaded by the away side, who gained control of the game after a good first twenty minutes from the Royals, but neither could take the rare chances they had.
Into the second period and Reading once again started well, with skipper McAnuff testing the grasp of Lee Grant in the Derby goal with an effort. Akpan`s deflected error nearly fell kindly for Gorkss, but the defender couldn`t make clean contact with it. Wisdom`s bursting run created havoc in the Royals area soon after, but we eventually managed to clear away with no damage done.
To follow was the best chance of the game, as Garath McCleary managed to beat Forsyth, before finding substitute Adam le Fondre at the back post, but despite looking odds-on to score, somehow managed to blaze over the bar. The visitors then had a fantastic chance themselves, as Bamford raced clear of the Reading defence, but McCarthy managed to make a crucial save to keep it level.
Reading looking more likely to score in the closing stages of the game, which had certainly opened up in the final twenty minutes. McCleary again was the architect of another decent chance, crossing to the back post again, with Hope Akpan steaming in with a diving header, but couldn`t test Grant. It was certainly a difficult chance, but it seemed as if it just wasn`t going in for Adkins` side.
Nick Blackman was within inches of breaking the deadlock, as McCleary`s cross from the byline was perfectly timed for the substitute, but despite meeting the ball well with a volley, it went over the bar. Le Fondre then had the ball in the net with minutes to play, but was disallowed for a deliberate handball by the referee and rightly so, with the striker clearly meeting the ball with his arm.
There were a few boos at the final whistle, which I couldn`t understand. We had a good amount of chances to win the game and to also keep a clean sheet against the league`s highest-away scorers is a massive positive . Despite falling out of the play-offs, there are still ten games to play yet and with seven of those games against teams in the bottom half of the league; we still have a great chance.
Reading - 4-2-3-1: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Obita, Guthrie, Akpan, McCleary, Drenthe, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Federici, Hector, Kelly, J.Taylor, Blackman, Le Fondre, Pogrebnyak
Derby - 4-3-3: Grant, Wisdom, Buxton, Keogh, Forsyth, Bryson, Hughes, Eustace, Ward, Dawkins, Martin
Subs: Ledzdinz, Whitebread, Thorne, Hendrick, Bamford, Russell, Sammon