Sheffield Wednesday v Reading Report

David Rogers

Reading: Andersen; Obita, Cooper, Pearce, Gunter; Akpan (Guthrie), Norwood; Taylor, Cox (Mackie), Blackman; Murray (Pogrebnyak)

Firstly, apologies for the delay in writing this, numerous technical issues with home-broadband and various restrictions at work render this the most difficult report I've written so far. It is quickly knocked up, so apologies if it's a bit scattered, biased, and with not a lot of care taken over the points I wish to make.

After four wins in four a trip to Hillsborough looked like a place three points was a real possibility. Wednesday had not won at home since late March although by all accounts were not playing poorly, but, last season's capitulation aside, we have a decent recent record up there so confidence was relatively high going into the weekend.

Cue 2pm and the team announcement and no Federici or Hector, the injury curse striking once again. Last season's injury problems were bad enough but this season's problems are extraordinary, and it's irritating that nothing seems to be able to be done about it. Results are made more difficult to come by when you don't have a settled team, a problem exemplified when you have debutants as replacements! Having said that, both Andersen and Cooper acquitted themselves with aplomb.

With all that said about the starting line up, this is a match that Reading should never have lost. The game itself was an even affair, both sides going at it hammer and tongs but on chances created Reading did more than enough to win this game comfortably. The game had settled down with very little rhythm due to the stop-start nature of it but the first opportunity fell to Glenn Murray who was put through on goal. Clearly hauled back, the referee decided penalty and booked the Wednesday player. Having seen the incident just the once since there is an argument a clear goalscoring opportunity had been denied, but either way Glenn Murray has an excellent penalty record I naturally the penalty wasn't scored, Wednesday's 'keeper Kieron Westwood (who also had a flawless game) saving with his legs after Murray's effort went low down the middle.

Disappointment abound in the away end, and everyone's question being why Blackman hadn't taken it having scored in midweek. Adkins answered that one in the post-match press conference but the reasoning was quite poor, admitting to not wanting to make a decision, instead leaving it to players to make. If you want the best chance of scoring when given guilt-edged chances to do so, you need your best players taking penalties. That is a management decision only as far as I'm concerned.

in any event it didn't affect Reading too much, although the game was stretched to it's limits in the five minutes afterwards with thrust and counter thrust. No further chances created in the first half, and so the second half continued in similar vein. the major difference was that Reading looked more likely from set-pieces. Westwood made one point-black save from Jake Cooper after a now-typical far post to Pearce to nod back corner routine, but couldn't prevent Murray getting on the end of another Pearce nod back. Thankfully for Westwood, his crossbar came to the rescue. A Blackman free kick was next, superbly struck and heading into the top corner only for Westwood to make a great save to his top right.

And then it came, the sucker punch. Wednesday hadn't tested Andersen at all up until this point, when a handball decision was given against Cooper who was booked for his troubles (up the other end, we were unable to make a clear judgement as to whether it was warranted or not). Reading's continuing bizarre wall arrangement routine ensued where there is no goalkeeper involvement at all, (although it was set up correctly in the end), Stevie May stepped up and struck the shot that looked to be heading well wide of Anderson's right post only for a huge deflection to take it into the opposite corner. Andersen no chance, dismay in the away end, and we'd paid the price for not taking our clear chances when they arrived.

From that point it was kitchen sink time, but to no avail. In the end Wednesday saw the game out fairly comfortably although Reading should have been awarded a second penalty when a Pearce cross was clearly handled by the covering Wednesday defender. Nothing doing, which summed up the referee really in that he gave a number of quite frankly baffling decisions in both directions, particularly irking the Wednesday contingent.From the moment he'd given the penalty in our favour it seemed like he wanted to steer clear of any further controversy, always ready to give the easy free kick (Gunter for example on a number of occasions was "clever" in getting to the ball first and just falling over to relieve the pressure) but not want to make a decision in a key area. Having said all that though, much like the defeat to Huddersfield and Stuart Attwell's appalling display, no blame can be attached to Mr Heywood for the result. It may have been a lucky goal, but Wednesday were good enough to create the luck while Reading's obvious issue with creating chances from open play, a carryover from last season, has cost them. On the flip side, we don't look so vulnerable now, unlike at times last season when we looked increasingly close to a hammering.

A few final points:-

1) Given we're holding our own in games the question must be asked just how much better will we be when we get our full contingent back, Garath McCleary in particular?

2) Defensive wall set up - a keeper's domain surely? Why do we insist on having a player stand on the ball and line it up from there? Cox particularly riled the home support when doing this in the first half, Guthrie did it numerous times last season. The keeper must take charge there.

3) Diving - should Wednesday's right back have been booked for diving in the second half? I'm inclined to believe he should have been.

4) How good a stadium is Hillsborough?! I never cease to be impressed with it every time I visit!

All views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Tilehurst End or SB Nation.