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Charlton 3-2 Reading: Back Down To Earth

After the euphoria of reaching Wembley at the start of the week, topped off by the brilliant community project #RyansRoyals, the Royals certainly came crashing back down to Earth on Saturday, suffering a 3-2 defeat in South East London.

Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images

Royals: Federici, Gunter, Pearce, Hector, Obita, Norwood (Karacan), Williams, Robson-Kanu (Blackman), McCleary, Pogrebnyak, Mackie

Reading made only one change to the team which knocked Bradford out of the FA Cup on Monday, with Oliver Norwood replacing Nathaniel Chalobah, who had picked up a knock.

Opening

The Royals' last win on the road was almost a month ago at Ipswich, but they looked lively in the first half. However, Charlton (who had come into the fixture off the back of a 3-0 against league strugglers Blackpool) created the first chance in the third minute, with Gudmundsson shooting just wide of the post after connecting well with a corner from Chris Eagles.

It was a close encounter until Reading took the lead in the 39th minute. Pavel Pogrebnyak netted his first goal of the game, striking sweetly into the bottom corner after a well timed crossed from Jordan Obita.

Second Half

The second half started much like the first, with ample opportunities coming for both sides. Garath McCleary found himself in a decent position, but ended up shooting off target and over the crossbar.

Charlton squandered a decent chance, with Tony Watt missing a left footed effort from a few yards out. Yoni Buyens also had a shot blocked by Norwood. However, Charlton continued to press and finally got their equaliser in the 58th minute. Michael Hector was penalised for a clumsy handball in the box, and Standard Liege loaned Buyens scored his seventh penalty of the season, shooting high into the goal.

The Addicks nearly went in front very soon afterwards, with Eagles narrowly heading over from a Gudmundsson cross. However, Charlton's second of the afternoon came on 70 minutes, when the Royals' defence stood still as Gomez put a quick cross into the box and was perfectly met by Buyens.

Charlton were now firmly in control of the game, with Reading appearing to completely capitulate and looking lost and disorganised. Adam Federici made a cracking reflex save from Gudmundsson, and substitute Jem Karacan ran back quickly and effectively to clear another effort off the line.

The final nail in the coffin came in the 80th minute, when yet another former Reading player scored against his previous employer. Simon Church came off the bench to score from close range, with muted celebrations.

The list of Reading's woes became even longer when Danny Williams was sent off late on for a second bookable offence. The USA international appeared to lose his cool and raise his arms stupidly at an opposition player.

The Royals however, did get a late consolation goal in the 94th minute, thanks to Pogrebnyak. The Russian scored with his left foot and his seventh league goal of the season, after meeting a Karacan cross which had been flicked on by Jamie Mackie.

Disappointment

This disappointing result leaves the Royals 19th in the Championship table, and nine points above the drop with eight games left to play.

I have a lot of respect for Steve Clarke after his post-match comments; he couldn't have been more spot on. To lose a winning position like that so easily in the space of a crazy 20 minutes was bordering on embarrassing, and it's inconsistency like that which has resulted in the precarious position we're in.

I personally believe we won't go down to League 1, but I agree with Clarke in the sense that we need this season to be over ASAP so we can regroup, strengthen and actually get a team together than Clarke can put his stamp on. It's nervy times for sure, but I have every faith we'll be okay.

Let's hope our next trip into London gives us a bit more to be proud about...