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Reading FC 0-0 Blackburn Rovers: A Charitable Point

A stalemate at the Madejski marked the excellent Ryan's Royals campaign as a comfortable Reading failed to break down their Lancastrian opponents.

Reading: Federici; Gunter, Pearce, Hector, Ake; Chalobah, Karacan (Norwood); Mackie, Robson-Kanu, McCleary (Akpan); Pogrebnyak (Appiah)

Lining up in the rather fetching one-off kit to raise money for the Avenue School from which the Ryan's Royals campaign begun, it was pleasing to see the 14-year-old pitchside before the game as the returning captain and charity protagonist Jem Karacan started with the captain's armband and receiving a rousing reception for his first home start since September 2013. The midfielder took to the field alongside the fit-again duo of Nathaniel Chalobah and Michael Hector - with Nathan Ake at left-back with Jordan Obita rested.


Kicking-off, there was some good initial pressure from the hosts that culminated in a decent early chance: Jamie Mackie wriggled down the right-flank to find Hal Robson-Kanu arriving on-time to place the ball straight at the goalkeeper. The game settled down after 15 minutes had passed, with a rhythm of possession as the Royals moved the ball around the box in a dangerous, but ultimately unproductive, manner.

Chances came the way of Chalobah and Mackie, with a blocked long-range effort and over-the-bar header respectively being the end product of finding well-worked good positions. However, the first-half began to drift away without a clear-cut chance and there was certainly no threat coming from the visitors - allowing Reading to sit in a comfort zone of middle-third possession. Indeed, this did create some late first-half chances, firstly as Karacan found space down the right to drive a shot wide, and then as Robson-Kanu placed a shot into the South Stand from 18-yards.


In sharp contrast to the opening period, Rovers burst out to attack from the first whistle. A set-piece or two forced the Royals back, with a good chance coming as a goal-bound Ben Marshal effort was cleared in the six-yard-box before nestling in the bottom-corner. This opened space up in the game that allowed Garath McCleary to have a say in proceedings via the counter. Twice in quick succession the Jamaican burst forward down the left-flank but both times it was a fruitless endeavour - first as Adam Henley chased back well to dispossess, then as McCleary ignored the open Pogrebnyak to be comfortably outmuscled in a crowd of defenders.

The visiting defence was certainly very adept, no surprise for a side who have the joint-eighth best defensive record in the league, and it became apparent that the 18th-best attack would struggle to bypass them. Mackie's skill down the right-wing was exemplary but too often a cross failed to find it's man, more than once it was a matter of Pogrebnyak failing to stretch for a decent ball-in, with an unchallenged slip signalling the end of the Russian's day after 86 minutes.

With the reinforcements of Oliver Norwood and Kwesi Appiah adding a much-needed set of fresh legs, a couple more chances - again, unmatched by Blackburn - came Reading's way. Ghanian Appiah marvellously put Rovers keeper Simon Eastwood under enough pressure to block his clearance, but see the ball rebound wide. Finally, from a late corner, substitute Hope Akpan had a header bundled off the line.

The final whistle marked another day of chances not taken, but the clean sheet and general comfort of the match may come to be of great benefit as Bournemouth and Arsenal await. Reading stay 18th and are now 11 points clear of the drop zone.