As fixtures go, an away tie against Wednesday would not usually cause many heart palpitations, but given our last performance in the blue half of Sheffield, one could fear the worst. However, Wednesday no longer had the services of Connor Wickham and former Reading starlet, Michael Antonio to trouble us. After a morale lifting run of four wins in a row, Reading could be forgiven for going into the game with increased confidence.
If we look at the possession statistics of the 90 minutes, Reading certainly had their fair share of possession and corners. Only in the key last knockings of the game did we appear to lose momentum. There could be many factors for this. Did our substitutions alter our play too much? Did we start to panic and throw caution to the long ball? Danny Guthrie's brief passing stint showed a 100% success rate, however. Or were we happy to play out for a point, that ultimately we did not achieve and therefore conceded possession to Wednesday?
None Shall Pass...
Obviously, there are two sides to every game and Wednesday's own statistics must have some bearing also. Wednesday managed 16 shots. By definition, Wednesday had their fair share of the play to get 16 shots off, even if only two were on target!
Strangely, we only completed 306 passes in the entire game. Down almost a third against Millwall and less than half, yes HALF, than against Fulham. It is possible that the quality of the playing surface could be called into play here.
Out of Bounds
Wednesday also were gifted a staggering 24 throw-ins in 90+ minutes. (I wonder if there’s a ‘Ball in play’ stat out there?!)
Longer ain't better!
Now, this raises a couple of thoughts. Are we over reliant on getting the ball out to our wide players? Are we playing with too fine a margin with passes to our wingers, namely Blackman and Taylor, and therefore pinging too many balls astray? A thought occurred to me at the Millwall game was that Blackman and Mackie were practically hugging the touchline, this left either Cox coming short and very deep, or Akpan to make a rare sojourn into enemy territory. There seems to be a need for a willing runner to go forward and pull the opposition midfield into difficult areas. Otherwise, the only options seemed to be more ‘risky' balls out to the flanks.
It would seem that our passing game was slightly off from what we have seen recently, but still we are creating chances which will no doubt not be lost on the manager. As it proved in this game, a little bit of luck can trump any other statistic with one scruffy deflection.
A glint of light may be that we still managed to gain 12 corners (to Wednesday’s 6) and put in 17 crosses, so at least we were getting into goal scoring positions!
Another smidgeon of brightness is that for the first time in a long while, we won the aerial battles stat! Jake Cooper can take a bow here on his first start for Reading. Otherwise, it appears to be a missed opportunity for the Royals, as a win was quite within our reach if Murray had put his first half penalty away.