Royals edge closer to play-offs with Charlton win
Saturday 5th April 2014
Attendance: 15,800 (1,794 away)
Reading boosted their chances of making the play-offs, with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over relegation-threatened Charlton at the Valley.
Nigel Adkins made four changes to the side that drew against Huddersfield last week and they were attacking ones too, bringing back Gorkss, Le Fondre, Guthrie and Drenthe, meaning we lined up as a 4-4-2, with Drenthe operating on the right wing. The game started slowly, with the Royals having the better of the opening exchanges, but the home side were gradually working their way into it.
Genuinely, the first half was so bad, there is nothing to mention of note, bar two occasions where the keepers were worked from both sides. Firstly, Chris Gunter had space on the right after a swift break, with his hopeful cross into the area needing to be palmed away by Ben Hamer, with Le Fondre lurking at the back post. It was the closest we came all half, and it wasn`t on target.
At the other end, McCarthy comfortably gathered an effort from Jordan Cousins, after good build up play from Charlton. It was a half that lacked any tempo from either side, with set pieces or a moment of quality looking like the only possibility to break the deadlock. Luckily enough, the second half saw a more open and exciting game, even though it couldn`t get much worse than the first!
We started the second period well and had a half chance early on, as Jobi set away Alfie, but was lacking in support and could only find Danny Williams, who shanked an effort wide from fifteen yards. The American International then had an optimistic volley at goal from the edge of the area, but wasn`t going to trouble former Reading goalkeeper Ben Hamer, who has been in good form.
Le Fondre then had a rare sight of goal, as McAnuff`s low cross found the striker, but poked his effort wide on his weaker foot, but will go down as a decent chance. It was a much better showing from us, but the only minor concern was the lack of clear cut chances, but the same could be said of the hosts, whose only effort on target in the half came from Wiggins, but McCarthy dealt with it well.
Both sides needed the points for different reasons, so as you would expect, the game really opened up in the final twenty minutes. Pogrebnyak had an effort slammed into the side netting, after Williams` energetic run gave space for the big Russian to have a shot. The breakthrough would eventually come minutes though and it was the impressive Danny Williams who got the winner.
Charlton were on the attack, but Guthrie won the ball on the edge of our area and drove forward with confidence and eventually picked out the American midfielder in the box, who made no mistake with a superb finish into the top corner. Great credit to Guthrie for his run and Alfie for creating the space for Williams to have the shot, in what would eventually be the winning goal.
We saw the game out with relative ease in the end, with the home side`s last effort coming from a free-kick twenty-five yards out, but the gracefully-named Reza Ghoochannejhad fired over the bar, despite good technique for the set piece. The home side did rally in injury time, but the defence held out nicely and secured a tenth victory on the road for Adkins side, to continue our play off push.
It was far from an enthralling game at The Valley, but I think we just about deserved all the points in the end, for a good second half showing. The league table looks very nice come 5pm, sitting in sixth spot and five points clear of Forest in seventh place. Considering our superior goal difference, you would imagine three wins from our last six should be enough to secure that final play-off spot.
Charlton - 4-3-3: Hamer, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Wiggins, Poyet, Jackson, Cousins, Ajdarevic, Harriot, Church
Subs: Fox, Wood, Phillips, Petrucci, Ghoochannejhad, Sordell, Obika
Reading - 4-4-2: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Obita, Drenthe, Guthrie, Williams, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak, Le Fondre
Subs: Federici, Morrison, Kelly, Bridge, McCleary, Robson-Kanu, Blackman