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Reading FC 2-1 Nottingham Forest: Another Step In the Right Direction

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A 2-1 win at home to visitors Nottingham Forest saw Reading maintain their unbeaten run at home in the league under Brian McDermott. Here's Bucks' take on the game.

Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Reading made just the one change to the side that claimed a late 1-0 win at Bolton, with Simon Cox brought in for Matej Vydra up top. That meant the retention of Saturday's 4-4-2 diamond formation, with Oliver Norwood at the base of the midfield and Lucas Piazon as the point.

First half

Reading started the game brightly (wow, it's been a while since I could write that in a match report), moving the ball around across the midfield well. Playing deep, Norwood had plenty of time to pick passes, with Piazon looking to link up with Kermorgant and Cox. However, clear-cut chances were limited, with Piazon and the strike duo ineffective at breaking down Forest's back line.

Where Reading did look dangerous was on the left wing, with Jordan Obita getting forward constantly throughout the opening 45. Indeed, the balance on that wing looked promising - the left-footed Quinn supporting Obita in the midfield, with Kermorgant an obvious target to hit with crosses. The young left-back did just that, with one delivery seemingly destined for corner via Kermorgant's head, but De Vries reacted excellently to parry.

On the other flank, Chris Gunter was similar - albeit more limited - success in providing width, overlapping Danny Williams relatively well. Elsewhere, Cox hit a shot from the edge of the box just wide, Williams' shot from a tight angle was kept out by De Vries and McShane arrowed a header just over from a Norwood corner.

However, Forest took the lead a few minutes before the break. A through ball from Henri Lansbury found Ben Osborn who, having slipped in behind the defence, slotted past Al-Habsi. Besides a speculative shot from distance earlier in the half, that was pretty much Forest's first sight of goal.

Second half

Reading got forward similarly well after the break, but failed to open up the travelling side any better than they had done in the first half. The best chances again largely went to Yann Kermorgant, who couldn't do well enough with a couple of full-back crosses. Down the other end, Henri Lansbury almost doubled Forest's lead at the end of a Forest counterattack, but his shot from inside the area was well saved by Ali Al-Habsi.

By the hour mark, Reading looked to be running out of ideas, so on came the attacking duo of Ola John (for Lucas Piazon) and Matej Vydra (for Simon Cox). Although those players were probably what Reading needed, Ola John didn't really fit into the diamond formation that the hosts had till then been playing. As a result, the Royals proceeded with a pretty bizarre, lop-sided formation that seemed to have three central midfielders, one left winger and two strikers. If anyone made sense of it, please do let me know in the comments section.

Although John and Vydra looked a little more lively than those they replaced, they didn't provide the much-needed spark. Instead, the Royals had to rely on a fair amount of luck - a Norwood piledriver from distance deflected in off Matej Vydra, with hints of offside about the Czech's positioning.

About quarter of an hour later, Norwood was rewarded for that 'assist' with a goal of his own. Getting possession in the midfield, the Northern Irishman let off a rocket that cannoned in off the post. As it happens, my seat in Y26 was right behind the flight of the ball from boot to net - a terrific strike. It's certainly another contender for goal of the season, and was pretty similar to Norwood's hit against Ipswich Town.

Closing thoughts

This was hardly vintage Reading, but I definitely thought it was that bit better than we've seen at the Madejski recently. For the most part, Reading moved the ball about well, with Oliver Norwood in particular the influential cog at the base of the midfield. Adding the width this time, in the absence of John (initially), Robson-Kanu or McCleary, Gunter and Obita got forward well to whip some crosses in for Kermorgant. True, it was hardly anything special, but the full-backs had more to their game tonight than they had in a while.

The formation was another interesting point of note, with Brian McDermott testing out a 4-4-2 diamond. For me, it worked pretty well, with the players picked being suitable enough that the set-up seemed balanced, rather than forced. Norwood had a noticeably better game tonight in his familiar quarterback role, supported relatively ably by Williams and Quinn. And, as previously mentioned, Gunter and Obita made up for the lack of natural wingers by overlapping well.

Results wise, this result is Reading's second win on the bounce, making them unbeaten in three - pretty good when you consider we'd lost our previous three in all competitions. I'd hardly call it momentum, but a hard-fought 2-1 win, with Reading coming from behind in the league for the first time in what feels like a millennium, is another step in the right direction.