Well it was fun while it lasted. Jaap Stam’s dynamic, pragmatic, match-winning team receded into their usual lacklustre self on Saturday afternoon as Sheffield United claimed a 2-1 win at Brammal Lane.
Jon Dadi Bodvarsson was unavailable due to a calf complaint and thus Reading lined up without a natural striker back in their usual 4-3-3 formation, Leandro Bacuna returning to midfield as Tyler Blackett dropped in at left-back. Mo Barrow was given a start alongside Sone Aluko and Roy Beerens in attack.
It took just 19 minutes for United to lead with a well worked goal from Paul Coutts, which was added to by Billy Sharp claiming the mandatory former-player-hoodoo-goal before the break.
It wasn’t until after that strike that the Royals had a shot of their own and just five more followed on a difficult afternoon punctuated by curious substitutions by boss Stam. Paul McShane was drafted on for a system rejig ten minutes into the second half with John Swift coming on for Aluko shortly after.
Furthermore, Pelle Clement was thrown on for Bacuna after 77 minutes with academy forward Sam Smith left on the bench. Needless to say, when Beerens tapped home late on to give a whiff of a point, any such success would have been daylight robbery and the game ended 2-1.
Reading stay 20th with 12 points from as many games, playing Middlesbrough at home next weekend.