Reading 0-2 Manchester City: Very damp, some squib

Laurence Griffiths

Reading completed their home fixtures in the Premier League with a 2-0 defeat to league and FA Cup runners-up Manchester City. Reading put up plenty of fight but in the end City's quality shone through as only a string of saves from Alex McCarthy kept the scoreline respectable.

The 4-2 win at Fulham meant that there was a bit more of a positive atmosphere in the ground and with relegation confirmed it meant fans could sit back and just enjoy a game against one of the top sides in the country.

City meanwhile came to Berkshire having lost the cup final and their manager within the space of 48 hours, so hopes were raised that Reading might just be able to pull off an upset over last year's Champions.

Nigel Adkins named the same XI that had started in that win at Fulham, with the only change in the squad being Hope Akpan replacing Noel Hunt on the subs bench. City meanwhile made four changes to the side that lost to Wigan on Saturday.

Any thoughts of the visitors rolling over and dying were quickly ended by Aguero twice firing in on Alex McCarthy's goal, only for the keeper to deny him once and see Sean Morrison deflect the other. It was a sign of things to come and CIty dominated proceedings, constantly getting into good positions, although their finishing wasn't quite up to the mark.

Reading had a couple of half chances. McCleary's low drive on Joe Hart's goal the best of them, but it was no surprise to see City open the scoring five minutes before the break with a brilliantly worked goal that was finished by Aguero. James Milner and Gareth Barry were getting plenty of stick from the Reading fans but both were integral in a fantastic set of one touch passes that the Reading defence just couldn't cope with and Aguero ended the move by slotting the ball past a helpless McCarthy.

Into the second half and Reading tried to respond with Pavel Pogrebnyak's header being kept out at point blank range by Joe Hart, while McCleary nearly scored a goal to equal his effort at Carrow Road, only for the England 'keeper to push the ball out.

Still, City were never really in trouble and were producing a steady stream of chances that were either well saved by McCarthy or just missing the target.

Reading brought on Adam Le Fondre for Pogrebnyak and Nick Blackman for Jobi McAnuff but neither helped Reading wrestle control of the game and it was only a matter of time before Man City got a second, which they duly did through substitute Dzeko. This time it wasn't City's class but Reading's own lack of composure that cost them as makeshift left-back Stephen Kelly gifted away the ball just outside the area, leaving Dzeko to slot past McCarthy. 2-0 and that was that, you know it's the end of the season in a meaningless game when the assistant only gives two minutes of injury time!

Reading's players went on a lap of appreciation to a stadium that was probably only a quarter full at the full-time whistle and while it's a shame they didn't get a round of applause from a full house, you can understand why some wanted to get away quickly at 10pm on a wet Tuesday night. In many ways we've come full circle, with last year's open top bus parade in the rain matched by tonight's appalling weather.

As mentioned, City were very, very good at times but they lacked that extra bit of drive and desire that might have made it more of a cricket score on other occasions. The body language of the likes of Yaya Toure told the story of City's season and it's little surprise that Roberto Mancini got the sack after failing to get a squad that cost well over £200m to gel.

City's away support was also one of the lowest we've seen this season, though credit to the 1,000 or so that did make the trek down for a meaningless game in the same week as a cup final. They were constantly singing for Mancini and the 'we are staying up' chants got a few laughs in the home end, who swiftly responded with 'we saw you cry on the tele'.

Overall Reading put in a decent shift against a vastly superior opposition and you can see how Adkins is slowly getting the team to play a more measured passing game. Sadly there's still plenty of work to be done and I imagine that at least three from tonight's starting XI will be playing their football elsewhere next season.

We've also probably seen the last of the likes of tonight's subs Ian Harte and Alex Pearce, with the loss of the later particularly sad on a personal level as you never like to see true homegrown players leave. Noel Hunt could also have played his final minutes on the Madejski turf, with the out of contract striker left out of the 18 last night. We'll have plenty more on all the comings and goings over the summer but I think it goes without saying that we'd like to thank those three and any others leaving for their efforts at the club over the past few years.

So that wraps up Premier League football at the Madejski Stadium for at least 15 months. It took four years to get back last time and who knows when, or if it may return. Still, having seen just 4 wins in 19 league games this year, that works out to around £100 a win so in many ways I hope we're not back for a while or at least until we show we're financially prepared to have a proper go at it.

Player ratings can be found here and as a final matter I'd like to apologise for a lack of updates on the site in the last couple of weeks. In a nutshell, I'm moving house and don't have internet access so getting new content up has been a bit of a challenge. However, that'll be changing in the coming days and weeks so please keep us in your bookmarks and on your twitter feeds as we'll have plenty of Reading coverage long after the Premier League spotlight has faded.

Onto West Ham we go and while last year's trip to Upton Park saw us take one step towards the Premier League, this year we'll take our final step out of it.

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