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Reading 0-2 Sheffield Wednesday: Inept Performance Ends Reading’s Brief Renaissance

10 man Reading’s recent good home form counted for nothing as Sheffield Wednesday completed the double over Royals with the curse of the ex-player striking yet again.

Tim Keeton

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

Supporting Reading was recently described to me as "like S&M but without the comfort of a safety word for when it gets too much" and today's game certainly proved that there's some truth in that statement. It was all so promising to start with as well. Chris Kirkland had to be alert very early to stop Adam Le Fondre from rounding him, Pavel Pogrebnyak almost bundled the ball over the line and it looked like it would only be a matter of time before Reading got the scoring under way.

Then, just before the 10 minute mark the moment that completely changed the match. Alex Pearce had already been struggling to deal with Benik Afobe in the air but it was the Arsenal loanee's pace that did for the Reading defender. He turned Pearce very easily and was bundled over for a penalty. There didn't seem to be a huge amount of contact but the lack of protest from Pearce suggested it was the right call but the real controversy was over the red card that followed. Nigel Adkins said after the game that the club will be appealing the decision on the basis that Kaspers Gorkss was covering but in terms of the game, it swung it hugely in The Owls' favour.

Chris Maguire stepped up and sent Alex McCarthy the wrong way to give Wednesday the lead. The over celebration was as embarrassing as it was unnecessary and Reading never really recovered. The rejig saw Chris Gunter go into the centre of defence and Garath McCleary drop back in 4-3-2 and to be frank, it never really worked.

Akpan and McAnuff looked lost. They seemed incapable of keeping the ball and the amount of space left on the flanks was being exploited by Wednesday. Fortunately for Reading they didn't really have the quality to make the most of the disorganisation. McCarthy had nothing more than a couple of efforts straight at him to deal with and the most they could really muster was when Afobe broke in and clipped the top of the bar.

With McCleary at right back there was no outlet at all on the rare occasion that Reading had the ball and Le Fondre and Pogrebnyak spent the whole game struggling with long balls. The makeshift pairing of Miguel Llera and Jeremy Helan didn't have too many problems in dealing with what little was being thrown at them.

Perhaps because Wednesday's defence was so patchwork the team began to rather cynically use up time with a lot of very dubious looking ‘injuries'. This only added to frustrations for the home side and a flare up between Chris Maguire and Jordan Obita threatened to spill over.

Half time didn't bring about the expected changes in personnel or performance and Reading never really got close. It was only inevitable that Wednesday would get a second but it was a surprise that it came from a mistake from Alex McCarthy. Perhaps the keeper can be let off this one given his superb season to date but what was even more inevitable than the goal was the scorer. Benik Afobe, much like Jay Tabb, never scored for the club in his brief loan spell in 2012, so of course it was him to tap in from McCarthy's fumble.

After that goal there were a few changes but the horse had already bolted. Taking Danny Williams off seemed an odd decision but realistically, the players on the bench were never going to swing the game in Reading's favour.

No shots on target tells its own story and seeing Michail Antonio showboating at the end of the game will stick in the throat for a while. It was a lacklustre performance and once again showed a worrying lack of a plan B.