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Reading FC 0-3 Nottingham Forest: Picked Off

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Two screamers from Forest scared the Royals into submission as Steve Clarke's men failed to score at home again.

Martin Willetts/Getty Images

Well, what can you say about that? Another home game, another loss, another blank up front and another defensive capitulation.

Reading failed to take the opportunities presented to them and were picked off by a clinical counter attacking Nottingham Forest side, meaning they finish the month of February having not scored at home. To make matters worse, in 7 of the past 9 home games Reading have failed to score—and people wonder why there's no atmosphere at the Mad Stad?

Speaking of atmosphere, the most exciting thing to happen in the first half of the game was the man screaming out for some in the north east of the stadium,  which resulted in him being kicked out at half time.

First Half

Looking out onto the pitch, you could immediately sense there was no excitement among the fans. It seems they've got used to the lack of goals. You can guarantee the next time we score at home the chant, "How **** you must be, we scored at home!" will ring around the stadium.

The Royals lined up in a 4-4-2 formation with the Williams-Chalobah axis protecting the back line with Robson-Kanu and McCleary lining up either side of them to—theoretically—provide the attacking thrust. Cox and Pogrebnyak restored their relationship up front.

The first chance of the game came to Pogrebnyak through an Obita corner, who headed the ball over the bar. Forest's first chance came not long after through former Reading man Michail Antonio, who dragged his shot a yard or so wide.

Then the game got dull. A tense midfield battle ensued, with neither side looking dangerous for a good twenty minutes or so. It had 0-0 written all over it at this stage. Oh, how things would change...

The final twenty of the first half were the most exciting in the game. Reading's next chance came when Simon Cox (who was abysmal today) missed the target after good play by McCleary. Another chance fell his way after the returning Gunter pulled the ball back to him, this time smashing the ball into the stratosphere. A Pogrebnyak shot was deflected wide and young Jamal Lascelles punted the ball off the line moments later to keep Forest's clean sheet in tact.

Half time then, and the Royals may have felt aggrieved that they didn't manage to put away at least one of their chances.

Second Half

Little were we to know that the first half would provide us Royals fans with the most entertainment we'd see from our own side.

A few minutes into the second half and Pogrebnyak had another header from another corner, but the ball was tipped over the bar after it looked destined to land in the net.

Forest got their foot on the ball and threatened Federici's goal, with the Australian goalie doing well to tip a shot over the bar.

Then came the first of two wonder strikes by Forest. Reading had been in the ascendency, but this goal was something special. Ben Osbourne picked up the ball, trotted forward and let fly a fantastic shot that lasered into the top corner, with Federici stranded. 1-0.

Forest's tails were up, and Reading's were well and truly between their legs. Freedman's men surged forward searching for a second, with Antonio gliding past what defence the Royals could muster only to hit his shot wide. McCleary picked up a booking for halting another Forest attack not long after.

The impressive Gunter continued to overlap well with his fellow former-Forest man McCleary, with his ball drilled across the six yard box, only to have no Reading man on the end of it. A superb ball; shocking attacking instincts.

Matt Fryatt gave Forest their second with a super run behind Obita, linking inside and hammering a shot into the roof of the net. 2-0, and a handful of fans were already on their way out of the stadium after another tepid performance.

Speaking of tepid performances, Simon Cox (Forest fans chanting, "Simon Cox, he's one of our own!" ironically after poor finishing) was subbed off for Yakubu, meaning the Pogreb'n'Yak partnership was pulled out of Steve Clarke's hat in an attempt to at least get one goal back.

Chalobah had an attempt at goal, only for Karl Darlow to palm the ball away. Then the infuriating Robson-Kanu was replaced by Danny Guthrie, who I didn't even notice was on the pitch, if I'm honest.

And, just like that, it was three goals and three points for Nottingham Forest. Another screamer, this time scored by the substitute Gary Gardner, who smashed the ball from thirty-odd yards in off the crossbar. Federici again helpless. 3-0.

From then on, streams of Royals fans departed the ground and it looked as though the players themselves didn't want to be there. The ever-impressive Forest fans chanting "Reading's a ***hole, I want to go home"; I felt the same.

Infuriating

The most frustrating thing about the game was the fact that the Royals were actually alright at points, especially at the end of the first half. They had chances, and as Steve Clarke said afterwards, they need to be clinical (I'm looking at you, Cox).

One thing, which I'm sure will come out in our post-match analysis, is how often the Royals got into shooting positions but dallied, took an extra touch or took a safer option. It was inexplicable and the two screamers the opposition scored show you that if you take a chance you can be rewarded.

Champagne moment

You know it's been a poor game when an opposition moment makes your champagne moment, but I have to say Forest's first goal was an absolute corker out of nowhere. No goalkeeper in the world could have stopped it and you almost have to just hold your hands up and admire such a strike.

On to Bolton away and Steve Clarke will be hoping the next couple of days can be used to flip our form back over.

Player ratings from the game can be found here.

Reading: Federici, Gunter, Obita, Pearce (c), Hector, Chalobah, Williams, McCleary, Robson-Kanu (Guthrie 78), Cox (Yakubu 70), Pogrebnyak. 
Substitutes: Andersen, Kelly, Travner, Norwood, Blackman. 
Yellow: McCleary

Nottingham Forest: Darlow, Lichaj, Lascelles, Collins, Fox, Antonio (Blackstock 80), Mancienne, Lansbury (c), Osborn, Paterson (Burke HT), Fryatt (Gardner 77). 
Substitutes: De Vries, Wilson, Veldwijk, Vaughan.

Att: 18,586 (2,042 away)