How did Cardiff get a point?
After being 2-0 up at halftime, Reading fans could be forgiven for expecting the second half against Cardiff to be somewhat of a formality as their team cruised to a comfortable win against the Championship high-flyers. However, it was anything but as Reading took a back seat against the Welsh visitors, seemingly backing themselves to withstand any pressure but this negative approach ultimately backfired with two late goals costing the Royals two points.
Obviously, getting a point off the second placed side in the league is something most would have settled for before the game but the fact Reading let a comfortable lead slip in the last 10 minutes is, quite frankly, unacceptable.
Despite the good form of just the one loss in their last eight, Reading’s performances have been very much up and down with confident thrashings of Derby, Nottingham Forest and Sunderland being side-by-side with disappointing displays against Sheffield Wednesday, Bolton and now Cardiff.
It means you never know which Reading side will turn up which is worrying, especially in a league where consistency is very much the key.
New signings gelling
On the bright side, a lot of Jaap Stam’s summer signings seem to now be fully settled in to the team. Dave Edwards is gelling with the side and has continued to live up to his reputation as a goal-scoring midfielder - the Welshman being the Royals’ joint second top scorer this season thanks to three strikes and two assists. Whilst injuries are currently side-lining the likes of John Swift and George Evans, the 31-year-old is quickly becoming a key member of the side.
Leandro Bacuna was originally signed to add depth to the midfield but, due to a long-term injury to Jordan Obita that has meant Chris Gunter filling in at left-back, Bacuna has taken up the right-back position. He spent most of his time at former club Aston Villa there, and his pace and attacking nature has made him an important outlet for the Royals this season.
Undoubtedly the best of the summer signings has been Modou Barrow with the Gambian adding to his goal-scoring tally again on Monday to take him to six, making him comfortably the Royals’ top scorer. His explosive pace and trickery have been a massive asset to Jaap Stam and as a result has established himself as one of the first names on his team sheet.
For a team that has had the most possession out of any in the Championship this season, the fact that Reading allowed Cardiff, the 21st ranked team in terms of possession, to have virtually an equal amount of the ball has to go down as one of the main reasons they lost.
The Reading side that shocked fans and pundits alike by finishing third and reaching the playoff final liked to pass teams into submission and having Cardiff 2-0 down by half-time they had a great opportunity to do the same again. Instead, they backed off and allowed the Welsh side to dominate possession and create chances which ultimately led to them nabbing a point.
Why Reading did not go out, keep the ball, pass it around, frustrate Cardiff and kill the game is a question that I do not have the answer to.
Neil Warnock is not exactly the most popular figure at the Madejski Stadium – although the same could be said for most English stadiums! The veteran manager has a lot of history with the Royals, dating back to his time with Sheffield United when he clashed with Reading coach Wally Downes on the touchline, being sent to the stands before Keith Gillespie broke records by getting the quickest red card in Premier League history after being sent off after 15 seconds for an elbow to Stephen Hunt.
On Monday, history repeated itself as Warnock was sent to the stands once more just before his side mounted their comeback, a decision that was roundly cheered by Reading fans and, rather predictably, contested by Warnock in his post-match interview.
"It's the first time in my career - 37 years - that I've been sent off for asking about someone arching their back.
"No bad language, nothing like that. I thought it was a travesty."
"It's disappointing really and I've been in to see the officials... I can't understand it. Usually I deserve to get sent-off, but not tonight.”
Kermorgant looking better
While he is still searching for his first goal of the season, Yann Kermorgant has been looking better and better with each passing game with Cardiff being unable to cope with the 36-year-old’s presence from set-pieces.
Kermorgant’s positioning, coupled with some miscommunication from Callum Paterson and goalkeeper Neil Etheridge, gifted Reading their first goal and the Frenchman put in his trademark hard-working shift and generally made things difficult for the Bluebirds. As I have said previously, all he needs is a goal and then the Kermorgant of last season may well be back!
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