Reading lined up in a 4-4-2 formation that had looked thoroughly unconvincing against both Millwall and Doncaster, but the opening exchanges were positive as we dictated the game. However, that was until the defence decided to produce Sunday League defending of the lowest calibre from the 18th minute onwards:-
1) A simple long ball over the top by Kamil Zayatte was completely misjudged by Stephen Kelly which allowed Antonio free control, time to draw McCarthy and then knock a simple ball back to an unmarked Matty Fryatt to tap home from six yards. McCarthy exposed and rendered helpless by his defence. 1-0.
2) Seyi-George Olofinjana, who has impressed me every time I have seen him play against Reading, knocks a long cross-field pass to Antonio on the right. First touch good, knock over Kelly who, along with Pearce, then backed off him while he dribbled forward and placed a decent effort past McCarthy. McCarthy, while not completely exposed, left to deal with a shot that Antonio should never have been in a position to produce. 2-0.
3) A well-worked move eventually led to the ball being laid out right from Baird to Gunter, who in turn put in a decent cross which Pogrebnyak did superbly to arrow goalwards, in off the post. 2-1.
4) The worst of the lot. Baird demands the ball from McCarthy on the edge of the box. Under almost instant pressure, Baird turns and plays a poor ball centrally to an accompanied Guthrie. Guthrie lost out in the challenge, the ball played immediately to Wickham. McCarthy saved well but in attempting to block the initial shot Morrison was only able to divert the saved shot back towards goal and in. McCarthy exposed again (partly his own fault this time) and rendered helpless. 3-1.
5) A simple long ball into the channel which Antonio ran on to and then fizzed in a decent cross. Gunter this time completely messed up his clearance, playing the ball straight toConnor Wickham 12 yards out who had time to take a touch, compose himself and then lash home. McCarthy exposed for a third time and rendered helpless (do you get the recurring theme here?)
6) A hopeless ball from wannabe ball-player Sean Morrison is intercepted on the edge of the Wednesday area, immediately played forward to Wickham who flicked the ball for Fryatt to run on to from within his own half. With an unimpeded route to goal, Fryatt finished with aplomb. McCarthy left exposed again and rendered helpless for a fourth time.
7) A decent move down the right ends with Gunter feeding Pogrebnyak in the inside right channel. Cutting into the area, Pogrebnyak is felled by Johnson and Le Fondre puts the resulting spot kick away with typical confidence.
It is maybe worth noting that on top of the four times Wednesday found a route to a one-on-one to McCarthy's goal, there were at least four other occasions when McCarthy was left exposed. It is no stretch of the imagination to suggest that Reading could have conceded eight or nine today. I also think the worrying thing about today is the confidence was so obviously lacking from Alex Pearce after all the abominations, some of his play was that of a player who really didn't want to be there. You're looking for the right character in these situations and Pearce showed all the wrong traits. Stephen Kelly also, with Wayne Bridge apparently made of glass, playing as the direct replacement, well he's the best of a bad lot who aren't natural left-backs really. What are the alternatives?Shaun Cummings? Chris Gunter moving across? Hal Robson-Kanu moving to left back? Kelly's full back play was abysmal, constantly out of position, allowing Antonio to run at him and it resulted directly to goal two.
Penultimately, a reference to Reading's fans who travelled not in great numbers but certainly made their voices heard. There is great deal of dissatisfaction within some, although I'm not sure whether it is a vocal minority or not. What was obvious today was that we, as fans, will not tolerate performances dished up like yesterday's from players at this level and, while I personally will never rank amongst the boo-boys, I can entirely understand why it happens. Couple that with a wavering confidence in Adkins and his masterplan, a number of players who are perceived as prima-donnas and the ongoing saga over the full takeover by TSI, and you have a fanbase who are very much on the cusp of turning on everything Adkins is trying to do. It's potentially a poisonous mixture and one that easily makes it's mark on the pitch. It has all the hallmarks of Rodgers time in charge, the only thing I think keeping the fans from turning is that Adkins has a track record whereas Rodgers was off the back of a thoroughly unglamourous six month stint at Watford after putting Mourinho's cones out at Cobham. Turn in more performances like that yesterday and the fans will turn quickly. Then we'll see what Zingarevich is made of...
A last word for Wednesday. It should be noted that while they hadn't won this season, they had drawn eight of their league games thus far. They have good quality up front and the signing of Wickham on Friday was exactly what the doctor ordered for them. Their attack was full of energy, verve, enthusiasm and ability to exploit any cracks and weaknesses that may present themselves. They deserved this victory on merit. And it's about time we suffered at their hands given the trouncings we've dished out to them over their last couple of visits to Berkshire.