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Reading 0-1 Blackburn: A Captain's Performance.....

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Jobi McAnuff just about summed up the good, bad and ugly side of this Reading team on a day when Blackburn took all three points at the Madejski Stadium. That's not to say the skipper alone was at fault for this one but he'll take the brunt of the fans ire after yet another underwhelming home display.

Mark Thompson

Reading: McCarthy; Obita, Gorkss, Pearce, Gunter; McAnuff, Akpan (Guthrie), Williams, McCleary (Drenthe); Pogrebnyak (Robson-Kanu), Le Fondre

Coming into the game on the back of a fantastic 3-1 win at Loftus Road six days ago and a visit from lowly Yeovil to come next week, Reading really had the chance to make a statement and help lock down a play-off spot against a Blackburn side who themselves are still holding play-offs hopes of their own.

Nigel Adkins named an unchanged side for the eighth game in a row and for the first five to ten minutes it once again looked as if Reading would have too much for a North West team coming to the Madejski, just as Bolton and Blackpool had found out only too well.

Sadly our captain Jobi McAnuff probably knew it wasn't going to be his day from those opening minutes as he had Reading's best chance of the first half after being put through by Pavel Pogrebnyak, only to hit a very tame shot at Paul Robinson in the Blackburn goal.

That's about as close as Reading got during the opening 45 minutes, if not the whole game as Blackburn's back four excellently marshalled the threat of Adam Le Fondre and Pogrebnyak, neither of whom had a meaningful shot for the whole day.

It wasn't just the back four who did a good job for Rovers, as their midfield dropped deep and denied Reading any space, particularly out wide where Garath McCleary was given no room to pull the strings. That left Reading playing the long-ball card and against two big defenders it was never likely to yield significant dividends.

Our recent run of good form has been built on playing a high tempo game but the away side stopped us with a professional performance that sadly included plenty of time wasting but Blackburn boss Gary Bowyer had clearly done his homework on us and with the early fires extinguished Reading really struggled to impose themselves.

That being said, Blackburn didn't exactly look like scoring themselves and it was only McAnuff's ugly moment of the afternoon that allowed them to take the lead late on in the first half. Jordan Obita had seen his free-kick slam into the wall and with the ball high in the air towards the half-way line, McAnuff elected to try and head the ball back to last man Gunter rather than hook it back towards goal. Sadly for Jobi, he under hit his header allowing Rovers to break forward where despite Gunter's best efforts, Craig Conway got a shot away which hit the backtracking McAnuff and flew past McCarthy to make it 1-0.

The Reading goalkeeper then did well to deny Jordan Rhodes as our captain's miserable half was compounded as he fell over under little pressure and also picked up a booking before the referee mercifully brought the half to an end.

After a blunt start to the second half, Nigel Adkins tried to change things by making a triple substitution, with Hal Robson-Kanu, Royston Drenthe and Danny Guthrie replacing Pogrebnyak, Hope Akpan and McCleary but despite a change of formation and personnel, the home side still struggled to create clear cut chances against a stubborn Blackburn defence.

Drenthe hadn't featured since the 4th of January at Brighton but had the chance to make his return in style, only to see his effort at the far post fly wide from Obita's deep cross, while the former Real Madrid man also saw another effort fizz just over Robinson's goal minute's later in what looked a fairly promising cameo.

Otherwise the only major opportunity to get an equaliser was denied to the Royals by yet another case of poor officiating. Le Fondre had wriggled through to the edge of the six yard box but despite a prone  Blackburn defender appearing to handle the ball on the floor, neither the referee nor his assistant saw fit to give a spot-kick despite the desperate appeals of fans and players alike. While the ref had an obstructed view of things, you'd like to think the lino could have done his job but to blame a bad decision for this defeat would be far too generous on a Reading side who just didn't get going.

Despite 10 minutes of injury time Reading still couldn't find an equaliser and Blackburn certainly deserved a result, although taking all three points might have slightly flattered them.

You can find afull break down of our player ratings on the day here.

Going back to the title of this report and the performance of our captain really did sum up the whole day. Nobody tried harder than McAnuff to win balls, create chances and drive the team forward but ultimately he made a bad mistake at the wrong time and when he did get the chance to put the ball in the net, or play the right ball, he just couldn't get it done.

Between a blunt attacking performance, subdued atmosphere in the ground, more stoppages than you could shake a stick at and some inconsistent refereeing this was a game I'm going to try and forget as soon as humanly possible and I'm sure that opinion is one shared by the Reading manager who must wonder how his team can go from sublime to subdued in the space of six days.

For the first time since the win at Watford, Adkins will now have to decide whether he needs to change his starting XI, with the likes of Guthrie, Drenthe, Robson-Kanu, Michael Hector and Nick Blackman all now wondering if their chance will come.

Personally I don't think this performance is one to panic over, given that it was our first truly blunt performance in front of goal (with eleven-men) since those dark days over Christmas and New Year, but certainly it's shown that this isn't a team with the dynamism and depth to really trouble the top two places.

Right now it's going to be a real battle to get into the top six but the quality is there to make the end of season lottery and fingers crossed we can get over that line.

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