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Reading 1-2 Wigan: Slumping in the rain

If you read Jonny's match report from the Bournemouth game, then really you might want to save yourself the pain of reading into another dismal home defeat for the Royals who once again gifted the opposition two first half goals to set them on their way to consecutive home defeats. Still, if you're on Santa's naughty list and fancy more punishment, read on....

Ben Hoskins

Reading: McCarthy, Cummings (Obita), Gorkss, Pearce (McCleary), Gunter; Guthrie, Williams, Drenthe (Le Fondre), McAnuff; Sharp, Pogrebnyak

After a decent 1-0 win up at Huddersfield, Nigel Adkins made just the one change, with Danny Guthrie returning after suspension to slot into midfield in place of Jordan Obita, as the Reading manager put his faith in 4-4-2 once again.

I might as well just copy this same sentence into every home match report, because tell me if you've read this before, but once again Reading looked reasonably comfortable in the first 10 minutes before utterly losing the plot.

Reading's throw-ins have to be amongst the worst in the league and it was no surprise that a poor throw in down the Wigan left saw the away side regain possession and break at speed through former Reading target James McClean. McClean looked to have been stopped by a sliding challenge in the box but the ball somehow wriggled away enough to allow the Republic of Ireland winger to pick out Chris McCann who found himself in plenty of space and fired past McCarthy.

Just like the Bournemouth game, one quickly turned into two as this time a hapless Alex Pearce totally misjudged the flight of a swirling ball, allowing Nick Powell to get in behind the defence and rifle home.

The next 15 minutes were about as ugly as we're likely to see this season. The players looked flat, the crowd grew increasingly restless and as the rain poured down I can't have been alone in wondering if maybe joining the hordes in the town centre would be more enjoyable than sitting in a near silent Madejski Stadium.

After 30 minutes of futility Reading finally did get themselves into the game, producing a great 10 minute spell of football that saw Sharp and Gorkss both go close and Al Habsi forced into a good save from the Pog.

Half-time brought changes for both sides, with Wigan making a double sub and Adkins deciding to bring on Jordan Obita on at left-back instead of Shaun Cummings.

The home fans soon had something to cheer as Chris Gunter was tugged down in the area and referee Mr Sutton pointing to the spot.

Billy Sharp stepped up but skied his effort high and wide, just about summing up our day.

Reading kept on going, and Garath McCleary was introduced in place of Alex Pearce, leaving a back four of Obita, Gorkss, Gunter and McCleary.

With the kitchen sink well and truly being thrown at Wigan, the Royals did finally get a goal through Pavel Pogrebnyak's header, setting up a frantic final 20 minutes. Wigan goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi was forced into making a couple of late saves but even the introduction of Adam Le Fondre couldn't provide the goal the home fans craved and in truth Wigan should have been out of sight were it not for some wasteful finishing towards the end.

What can I really say about this game?

On the positive side, it was nice to see a bit of heart and passion in the second-half but the very fact we had a supposed promotion contender playing more than 30 minutes with a back four of Obita, Gorkss, Gunter and McCleary shows how hopelessly wrong we had got it in the first half.

A few weeks ago Rob Langham wrote about how outdated 4-4-2 was I'll just quote what he said here again...

4-4-2 is a shabby, outmoded excuse for a playing system

Well ‘learned' isn't strictly true because we've know this for a while - Spain don't play it, Bayern Munich don't play it, we have learned the hard way that nobody plays it in the Premier League, Millwall, as we discovered a month ago, don't play it - hell, Woodley Hammers under 9s probably don't even play it. So why persist? To give Nigel Adkins his due, he did change matters hurriedly at half time when he brought on Danny Williams and Hope Akpan to combat Blackburn's dominant central midfield threesome of David Dunn, Jason Lowe and Tom Cairney. Just don't make the same mistake again Nige

Sadly Nige didn't take Rob's warning to heart as he again had to change his system after 4-4-2 failed. How many times has Adkins now had to change his style and team within the first 45 minutes? You could probably count the number of times Brian McDermott did it on one hand yet this seems to be an every week occurrence for Mr Adkins.

As I tweeted after the game, I'm desperate to get behind our manager but after 9 months, I'm still not seeing a coherent and progressive plan, more a mish-mash of individuals picked and chosen for each game who have litle idea of what they're supposed to be doing. Too often you've got square pegs in round holes and I can't say I'm surprised to see so little progression when things are changing so often.

I can't finish this match report without giving some credit to Wigan who gave the couple of hundred hearty travelling fans plenty to sing.. well not really sing but quietly clap, about with some good football and excellent play on the counter attack. While some of the time wasting and theatrics were annoying (I'm especially looking at you Mr Watson) they deserved to get a result from this game and much like our own fans, I'm sure the Latics fans will also be hoping for some consistency from a side that's had plenty of ups and downs this season.

It's unquestionable that there's talent in this Reading squad, they once again showed flashes of it today despite the poor result. Unfortunately we're now getting to that stage of the season where it's possible to suggest that maybe Reading don't have that extra gear we've been referring too for the first four months. Perhaps they are just a decent side who might graft their way into the play-offs, rather than a title contender who are just going through a bad run.

Unfortunately it doesn't get any easier for Reading in the next three games as trips to Leicester and Middlesbrough and followed by a home game against fellow play-off hopefuls Nottingham Forest.

We'll have player ratings tomorrow so I'll save my comments on individuals for that one but meanwhile please feel free to leave your thoughts below.