Reading started slowly yesterday and may have been punished for this had either Sheffield Wednesday regulars Fernando Forestieri or Gary Hooper actually been playing in place of the oversized Atdhe Nuhiu. It took a while for us to find our feet in the game, though this may have been expected after the Fulham drubbing. After the very fortunate first goal, which came against the run of play, we began to look like a team who lie third in the league.
From this moment until the 90th minute we looked in control. The second goal proving this. Although the final minutes were very nervy it's a credit to the team who again held onto their lead to bring home the three points. This was a very important victory against a well organised and effective Sheffield Wednesday side.
All in all it was a very pleasing performance especially taking into account the battering that Fulham dealt us last weekend. The defence was resolute and limited Wednesday to a small number of chances. Credit must go to the attack for twice breaking down a well organised defence. However I would be lying if I said that the performance convinced me we are set for promotion.
We were fortunate to win and the first goal was definitely against the run of play. There is no doubt in my mind that we are a significantly better side with five at the back although there are some issues which I will try to elaborate on. First of all I'm not sure Beerens, McCleary or Samuel really know what role they are playing. None of them offer width when we counter which hurts the team. This is strange when Garath is a born and bred winger. I saw many opportunities for rapid counter attacks yesterday however he kept on staying central rather than burning the full backs on the outside.
The second problem is that when width does arrive in the form of our wing backs it is when the opposition centre backs are already in place to deal with the cross - this is because the wing backs appear reluctant to lead the attacks and only get involved after a slow build up. If you watch Victor Moses for Chelsea at the minute he is driving a lot of the attacks and will sometimes be one of his team's highest players up the pitch. We would be a more effective side if Obita or Gunter did the same.
My third problem is that the central midfielders aren't taking enough risks with their passes. Samuel made many ignored runs in behind the defence and it felt like Evans and Van den Berg were scared to try to pick him out - I hasten to add that Joey may not be capable of these creative balls but George Evans certainly is. I think this is why our attacking was so turgid in the first half, we simply weren't moving the ball quickly enough or weren't taking enough risks. It is no surprise our possession was so high as Sheffield Wednesday didn't think we were going to hurt them when we moved the ball slowly.
If you think about the goals we scored neither was created by our patient build up play - the first came from a free-kick and the second from a long Al Habsi punt. I believe that with Williams and Swift back in the team we will be a force to reckon with as the team will create many more chances. With these two fit again and a new striker in January it is indeed possible that Jaap Stam will take us back to the promised land.