Pearce shocker costs Royals in another defeat
Cardiff City Stadium
Friday 21st November 2014
A disastrous night for Alex Pearce led to another loss for Reading, who despite a spirited second-half showing, went down 2-1 to Cardiff City.
Nigel Adkins made just one change to the side that lost to Charlton before the international break, as the injured Jamie Mackie was replaced by Hal Robson-Kanu. It was two front men that had the first efforts of the game for either side - former Royals striker Le Fondre`s header went harmlessly over the crossbar, while Glenn Murray`s effort from the edge of the area was comfortable for Marshall to gather.
A mix of a great piece of individual brilliance and poor defending nearly allowed Pilikington a sight of goal, but Hector`s block bailed out his fellow defenders. We were dominating most of the ball in South Wales, but failed to have any quality in the final third of the field. We were playing reasonably well, opposition hardly seeing anything of the ball, which only meant one thing - a Cardiff goal against the run of play.
The home side won a corner over on the right hand side, which came all the way across and found its way into the net, off the shin of Alex Pearce. The defender`s body positioning was poor, but how the ball managed to come all the way across the area needs serious questioning. Reading nearly responded well after good interchange and passing on the right-hand side, but Robson-Kanu`s shot was tame.
We don`t need to do well when going behind, but the response was good and Jordan Obita had a half chance to equalise, as we switched the play quickly, allowing the young winger a narrow angle at goal, but the Scottish keeper did well to deny him. The defensive frailties started to remerge again for the Royals though, as Macheda very nearly pounced on some sloppy play in midfield, but Federici held well.
If we could hit the self-destruct button, we did that just into first half injury time. A long ball was not dealt with well, which allowed Le Fondre through, but Pearce got the wrong side of the striker, then deciding to bring him down in the area. A penalty was rightly awarded and a red card was given by the referee - it was hard to say real time if it was a red, but it did look a clear goal scoring opportunity.
The usual spot-kick taker Peter Whittingham stepped up to put Cardiff two goals up and with a man ahead - it would seem that a messy second half could have occurred. Adkins responded by bringing on Garath McCleary for his first appearance of the season. It was hard to say whether Cardiff were poor in the second period, or merely did not want to get out of second gear with an extra man.
Pilkington nearly put the game beyond any doubt with another good individual run and effort, but Federici got enough on it to deny the Republic of Ireland international. Le Fondre would have wanted to put one past his former employers and came within inches of doing so with an audacious chip, but dropped just wide. Reading, as you would expect, failed to create any chances to challenge Marshall`s goal.
Ollie Norwood`s free kick on the edge of the area would have been a lifeline if he had gone in, but despite getting his effort over the wall, it also went over the bar. The Royals were pushing for a goal that could have made it a nervy contest for the hosts and got one back too, as a corner from Obita wasn`t cleared by the Bluebirds, allowing Michael Hector to strike from the edge of the area and find its way in.
Goalkeeper Marshall would have been disappointed with his role in the goal, as it spilled through his legs - it gave the Royals an unlikely lifeline. Cardiff nearly responded straight after, but a good double save from Federici to deny Macheda and Daehli left a nervy last ten minutes for the home side. We pushed for an equaliser, but Cardiff dealt well with long-balls into the area well enough to see it out.
It was an eighth defeat in twelve games for the Royals, as we cursed more suicidal and basic defending, costing us once again. The spirit and character in the second half was very good considering we had ten men, but we are not going to have a chance in games if we cannot do the defensive basics. Nigel Adkins really needs to use the loan window before it closes - something has to change.
Cardiff - 4-4-2: Marshall; Connolly, Turner, Morrison, Brayford; Noone, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Pilkington; Le Fondre, Macheda.
Subs: Moore, Manga, Fabio, Adeyemi, Daehli, R. Morrison, Jones.
Reading - 4-2-3-1: Federici; Kelly, Pearce, Hector, Gunter; Norwood, Williams; Robson-Kanu, Cox, Obita; Murray.
Subs: Andersen, Cooper, Cummings, Tshibola, Taylor, McCleary, Blackman.