While Reading may have been coming into Saturday’s fixture with Ipswich on the back of a five match unbeaten run which was promptly ended, that stat is somewhat deceiving in that the Royals’ performances have seriously lacked consistency in recent weeks. Thrashings of Nottingham Forest, Derby County, Barnsley and Sunderland have been interspersed with lacklustre performances against Bolton, Sheffield Wednesday and Cardiff.
That’s meant Royals fans never quite knowing which version of their team will turn up each week and, unfortunately for the Reading supporters who made the trip, it was the latter version who made the trip to Portman Road and were soundly beaten by the Tractor Boys.
Was there a Cardiff Hangover?
Reading’s TV match against Cardiff last Monday was the definition of a game of two halves. The Royals had a comfortable 2-0 lead at the break but then sat off the Bluebirds in the second half and they eventually rescued a point. The disappointment from letting Neil Warnock’s side snatch a draw after being in such a strong position may well have played a part in this game against Ipswich as Reading barely got going at all.
After such a disappointing second half against Cardiff, the last thing needed is for that performance to affect the next match which it seems it may have done. Reading need to snap out of it.
A bad start to the most important part of the season
As most football fans know, the Christmas period is perhaps the most important part of the season with the games coming thick and fast. If you can grab some momentum early on and carry it through those fixtures, you can shoot up the table very quickly. Reading, however, have made a poor start to December by allowing Cardiff back into the game and producing very little against Ipswich.
Other than the high-flying, goal GIF aficionados Bristol City who currently sit in third place, the rest of the Royals’ December and January opponents are either mid-table or relegation candidates. This means that most of the upcoming matches are distinctly winnable so Jaap Stam’s men need to simply forget about their last two games and move on because they do still have a great opportunity to jump up the table. They are still both 10 points off the relegation zone and the play-offs which illustrates just how tight the Championship is.
It took just 27 minutes for Joe Garner to double Callum Connolly’s third minute lead and, while it might sound obvious, the last thing Reading need to be doing is conceding early goals – let alone two within the opening half-hour. Obviously Reading’s biggest asset is their ability to keep possession with Jaap Stam’s men averaging the most per game in the league and having 72% on Saturday. However, much like the Sheffield Wednesday encounter, they struggled to test Bartosz Bialkowski in the Ipswich goal with just the solitary shot on target from 15 efforts.
The way Reading did so well last year was by nicking a goal, dominating possession and not allowing the opposition the ball to create chances and obviously conceding early means this plan is out the window and this would have been the case against Ipswich after just three minutes. One thing the Royals have shown is that when the game is not going their way they struggle to adapt and get something out of it. The same fight they showed to come back and nick a point from 2-0 down against Bolton was what was needed but was, in fact, nowhere to be seen.
In a moment that perhaps summed up Reading’s day, they were not even able to make it back to Berkshire without incident as the team bus was involved in a crash. A silver BMW appeared to crash into the back of the bus meaning the progress they had made was stopped in its tracks away from home. Sound familiar?