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Tactics Insight: Nottingham Forest 3-1 Reading FC

Rounding off our coverage of the Royals' away defeat in the East Midlands, we look back at the key moments and where Reading went wrong.

20 mins - Chris O'Grady GOAL

Chris O'Grady Goal (1)

Sometimes it doesn't matter how well you prepare your team or how well most of them stick to the game plan if one individual slips up. Chris O'Grady's equaliser on Saturday is the perfect example of this.

When Henri Lansbury passes the ball to Eric Lichaj, Reading's positioning is exactly as you would want it. Two compact banks of four, both strikers pressing the opposition and a narrow midfield. This was the 4-4-2 defensive formation that worked so well against Arsenal in the FA Cup last season.

Unfortunately one player's positioning caused this secure position to crumble. Instead of closing down Lichaj, Lucas Piazon stayed with Ryan Mendes.

If Piazon had closed down Lichaj then the Forest right back would have had less time on the ball and Andrew Taylor could have stayed at left back. Mendes is making a forward run which Taylor had covered. With Piazon closing him down Lichaj would have been forced to either turn back, try to dribble past the Chelsea loanee or play a difficult pass to the forward running Mendes.

Instead Lichaj receives the ball with no pressure and Taylor feels he needs to come forward to put him under some pressure. However, Taylor has too much distance to make up and effectively ends up in no man's land leaving space for Mendes to run in behind.

Piazon makes the situation even worse by ball watching meaning by the time Lichaj plays the ball Mendes has stolen important ground on him. To be fair the Brazilian does track back and make up the lost ground but unfortunately he doesn't stop the cross.

From there O'Grady has slipped in between the defence and attack and Paul McShane misses the cross. Even after all these little mistakes there is one final big one to come. Yes, yet again a Reading goalkeeper makes a meal of a simple save to gift the opposition a goal.

Up until that moment Forest had managed just one shot inside the box and Reading had not needed to make a single interception in their third of the pitch. It just goes to show the importance of players not switching off and making silly mistakes.

31 mins - Nélson Oliveira GOAL

Corners. There was a time when fans would get excited when their team got one. However, with the amount of stats available now it has become well known that they're not actually that dangerous. Just 13.5% of all the goals scored in the Championship this season have come from them. Reading are, along with Fulham, the only team yet to score from one.

Given these stats you would think that teams would play the percentage game. Short corners, for example, must have a low success rate so why attempt them? Similarly, a lofted cross played deep is depending on the corner to be perfect, for the attacker to get a decent connection, for either a teammate to get another good connection or for no opposition player to block the ball. For me that it is too dependent on too many variables coming good.

Surely it would make more sense to get the corner taker to whip the ball in with pace somewhere around the six yard box. A pacey ball needs just the slightest touch to cause panic. What does not cause panic is corners like Reading's below.

The execution is poor but even if it had been good, Orlando Sa still would have had lots to do. Oliver Norwood shows every week in open play what a good passer of the ball he is and in recent games his free kicks have been dangerous. Ask him to whip a corner in and I'm confident they'd cause problems. They certainly can't be any less infective than what Reading are trying at the moment.

They also probably wouldn't lead to what happened next after the above corner. David Vaughan gets a little nick on the ball which runs to Mendes.

Piazon again shows he is willing to track back but again fails to stop Mendes. His attempt at a professional foul is rather half-hearted and suddenly from their own corner Reading are under attack.

After that you have to praise Forest. Maybe Gunter could have closed down Oliveira quicker, though if he had he would have left Ben Osborn open, and maybe Piazon could have attempted a last ditch block but Reading's positioning wasn't that bad. They had plenty of men back and most strikes from that range in the Championship do not go in so Oliveira deserves the plaudits.

49 mins - Nélson Oliveira GOAL

Forest's third goal is the worse of the lot from the Reading perspective. There really isn't a lot Steve Clarke can do if his team just switch off.

Ben Osborn takes a quick throw which Gunter is not expecting. O'Grady receives the ball and is allowed to chest the ball, turn and cross by Michael Hector. A £4million centre back should be making life more difficult for the attacker. Reading's defence is then at sixes and sevens as Oliveira taps in the cross.

Reading are undoubtedly out of form and confidence at the moment. I have no problem criticising a manager when they make mistakes and Clarke has made some in the last month. However, the players have to take some blame as well.

Can Clarke really be blamed when Jordan Obita makes two schoolboy mistakes in one game, Al-Habsi fumbles an easy save and Hector and Piazon only make token efforts at defending? Sure you can criticise him for selecting them but the players have to take some responsibility. Some of them need to get back to and respect the basics.

All GIFs and screenshots taken from the Official Reading FC highlights.