Reading: Federici, Harte, Gorkks, Pearce, Cummings, Robson-Kanu, Tabb, Karacan, Antonio, Church (Le Fondre), Hunt
With all of the rumours and excitement over the proposed takeover you could be forgiven for forgetting the fact that Reading actually had an important game at the Madejski on Saturday afternoon, as sixth placed Hull came to take on our fifth placed Royals.
With the stands abuzz and the Chairman giving a pre-match message it was all set up to start the 'Russian Revolution' with three points... except it didn't happen quite according to plan, with Reading slumping to a 1-0 defeat.
Below the jump we'll try and keep our focus on the pitch as we take a look at what went wrong yesterday.
The takeover hype covered up the other big news of the day which was that Reading would be without three key players in Jimmy Kebe, Mikele Leigertwood and captain Jobi McAnuff, meaning a first start of the campaign for Michail Antonio. There was no place in the starting lineup for Adam Le Fondre, despite his goal scoring efforts in the 2-1 win at Watford, with the former Rochdale man having to settle for a place on the bench.
Hull came into the game in decent form under Nick Barmby who took the reigns on a permanent basis a couple of weeks ago. With the club still recieving parachute payments the squad was full of good Championship players, and it's a sign of the depth of the squad when you have options like Matty Fryatt on the bench. Their starting lineup included former Royal Liam Rosenior who was given an earful from the East Stand from the first minute until he went off injured in the dying minutes. Shortly after he left the club Rosenior was quoted as saying he was disappointed with his time at the club and how it ended and the Royals fans were keen to show they hadn't forgotten the comments. In fairness to Liam though, he did tell Tim Dellor on BBC Radio Berkshire's Weekend Kick-Off that he was misquoted. Whatever the case, 'Rosie' wouldn't have enjoyed the first hour or so of the game.
Then again few people would have enjoyed the first hour of a game that saw plenty of Reading possession but with a distinct lack of end product. Despite Antonio/Robson-Kanu constantly getting to the byline and the team winning numerous corners, Hull keeper Vito Mannone didn't have a save to make in the first half. Reading's best chance came from a corner when Alex Pearce saw his effort stopped off the line and the rebound somehow fail to find the back of the net in a packed six yard box.Likewise Adam Federici had just one save to make, tipping a swerving 30 yard free-kick over his bar from Robbie Brady, who had beaten the Australian from a similar position in the 1-0 Hull win at the KC back in August.
The second half saw Hull start the stronger side but rarely trouble Federici, as the Reading back four continued to keep the visitors away from goal by playing a high line. Shaun Cummings could have had Reading in the lead early in the second period, but somehow slammed the ball over from 12 yards out with the goal gaping. Minutes later and Reading would pay the price when Hull scored in controversial fashion through Brady.
With Reading holding a line just ten yards into their own half the ball was played through Pearce and Gorkks and into the path of the onrushing McLean. The former Peterborough man ran towards the ball for a good 15 yards before giving up the chase and letting Brady pick up the ball just outside the box and slot past Federici. Though you can't see conclusively on the TV replay, by all accounts Brady was onside and just beat Harte for pace. What got the ire of the Reading fans and management alike is that the officials conceded McLean was offside but deemed he wasn't interfering with play as he didn't touch it. The offside rule has seemed to get more and more confusing over the years and it would be handy to know just what constitutes as being active and inactive. To me if you're running full pelt and after the ball for 15+yards when you're offside then you're distracting the goalkeeper and any possible covering defenders, therefore making you active. Sadly the officials didn't see it the same way and the goal was allowed to stand.
Reading tried to get back into the game, immediately bringing on Le Fondre but they didn't really create much in the way of goalscoring chances and Hull saw out the game about as easily as Reading had the week before.
Neither side really deserved to walk away with three points but it was especially cruel on the Royals who probably just edged a contest that 9/10 would have ended in a 0-0 draw. The fact we lost such a game to a play-off rival makes it all the more frustrating, and I couldn't help but mutter 'jammy gits' 3 or 4... or 9 or 10 times as I trudged out of the ground, my emotions softened only by having money on Hull to win 1-0.
In terms of individual performances, Jem Karacan put in a great display, winning plenty of tackles and breaking up the play well, while Jay Tabb also put in a decent shift. The back five were strong, though Ian Harte's lack of pace was sadly exposed for the goal and Shaun Cummings still needs to work on his attacking input to truly be considered a top level Championship full-back. Antonio showed what scouts have seen in him, by using his power and pace to get into dangerous areas, but he put in more bad balls than good and again he'll need to be more consistent with his delivery if he is to stick around the team. The winger's long throws were also a bit of a let down, though the swirling wind wouldn't have helped his cause there. Church and Hunt didn't really create anything but nor did Le Fondre and with the trio finding the net just 15 times between them this season, things must improve if we want to stick around the top 6.
So a disappointing end to a day that was otherwise full of excitement for Reading Football Club. In truth we've nicked a fair few games that we didn't deserve too earlier in the season so it's hard to begrudge Hull too much.
So now focus shifts to off field matters once again as fans dream of signings Rhodes, Maynard, Bertrand.... Tevez etc. While it's unclear how much we have to spend, or if we have anything to spend, it's certainly an exciting time to be a fan.