Awful Royals outplayed by Barnsley
Tuesday 25th March 2014
Reading's poor run of form at home continued on Tuesday night with an awful display against relegation-candidates Barnsley, losing 3-1 at the Madejski Stadium.
Nigel Adkins made three changes to the side despite our win at Birmingham at the weekend, with Blackman, Pogrebnyak and McCleary come into the side for Le Fondre, Robson-Kanu and the suspended Danny Guthrie. Reading had none won in four previous home games, but nearly got off to the perfect start, as McCleary`s in-swinging cross was eventually cleared away by Barnsley.
The away side were bottom of the table before this one, but were not playing like it. Stephen Dawson had a firm effort from long-range palmed away by McCarthy and a rebound from Lawrence was gathered by the keeper. The keeper then released McCleary on the left, who drove from the half way line, beat three men into the penalty area, but his shot was blocked by Steele.
Reading`s home woes continued though, as the visitors took the lead at the Madejski Stadium. Chris Gunter received the ball from McCarthy, but the defender opted to pass it back to him, but his pass back was too short, allowing Chris O`Grady to pick up the scraps. McCarthy delayed him bearing down on goal, but pulled back for Stephen Dawson to fire into the net from ten yards.
A response was swift from the Royals though and it came through a penalty kick. Pavel Pogrebnyak was put through by McAnuff and despite being forced wide of goal, was fouled by Etuhu in the area. The Russian stepped up to score his tenth league goal of the season and put the Royals back in the game - we couldn`t afford no more let offs, but we didn`t learn our lesson.
We were struggling to get any sort of rhythm in our passing and it was Barnsley who were making the most use of their possession. Dale Jennings had an effort at goal after some good build-up play, but fired his effort well over the crossbar. Jobi McAnuff nearly dissected the Barnsley backline with a good bursting run, but his low cross into the area was blocked away from danger.
O`Grady then had a good chance as the half came to a close, forming a neat one-two in the area, but his shot went well wide. A much improved second half was needed from Adkins` side, who were lacking any cutting edge or managing to string two passes together. It really have couldn`t have got any worse from us in the first half, but the performance in the second period defied this.
Alex McCarthy was forced into action in the opening minute, as a deflected effort had the keeper scrambling across his goal, but managed to collect. Nick Blackman had a decent chance to put the Royals in front, but after muscling off the defender, was through on goal, but opted to attempt to lob the keeper his weaker foot and you can imagine where that went - not in the goal.
Barnsley did not appeared fazed and deservedly retook the lead eight minutes into the second half, thanks to a superb finish from substitute Noble-Lazarus. The ball arrived into Cywka`s feet on the edge of the area and his neat flick gave the young forward some space, who cut inside and curled a sublime effort into the top corner of the net, giving McCarthy no chance whatsoever.
The home crowd were now getting on the players backed and the boos around the Madejski soon loudened further, as the relegation-threatened Tykes scored another. Hope Akpan needlessly lost the ball in the middle and Barnsley worked the ball well on the left side, giving former Bayern Munich winger Dale Jennings time and space to lash a fantastic 25-yard effort into the goal.
With thirty minutes still to play, there was still plenty of time for us to respond and salvage a result from the game. All we needed was a chance and it came to Royston Drenthe, whose firm effort went wide, after space opened up following a powerful run from Pogrebnyak. If that goes in, it could have been a very different game, especially as chances were not exactly free flowing for us.
The closest we came was from an Alex Pearce header, who attacked Jordan Obita`s deep set piece, but Luke Steele pulled off a world class save to deny him. Substitute Adam le Fondre then had his touch desert him at a crucial point, as McCleary played a good ball inside to the striker in space. You have to say we ran out of ideas in the end, but did we have an idea in the first place?
Boos were overpowering at the final whistle, as Reading were now winless in five home games. Massive credit to Barnsley who deserved their victory and now move off the bottom of the league. Luckily the majority of the results went out way, so as much of this was a minor let off, a huge response is needed against Huddersfield on Saturday if we want any chance of the play-offs.
Reading - 4-2-3-1: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Obita, Akpan, McAnuff, McCleary, Drenthe, Blackman, Pogrebnayk
Subs: Federici, Hector, Kelly, J.Taylor, Tanner, Robson-Kanu, Le Fondre
Barnsley - 4-4-2: Steele, Etuhu, Mvoto, Nyatanga, Kennedy, Lawrence, Dawson, Cywka, Jennings, Pedersen, O`Grady
Subs: Turner, McCourt, Hassell, Frimpong, Mellis, Noble-Lazurus, Proschwitz