One shot on target
As I am sure fans will be used to seeing by now, Reading gave another measly return on their attacks in the form of just the singular shot on target in the 2-0 loss against Millwall. Stam persisted with two strikers up front after the important win over Burton Albion and while Modou Barrow looked lively in spells, the Royals only managed the one shot on the Millwall goal. A stat which summed up a lacklustre performance from a team which is dreadfully lacking in confidence and belief.
Terrible home record
An even more depressing statistic for Reading fans to read will be that the Royals have not won a home fixture which has taken place on the weekend since 29th April last season! With all of their home wins since coming in midweek fixtures. Now in February that makes it nearly ten months since the Madejski stadium has seen its home side earn the full three points on a weekend which is as remarkable as it is damning. When Reading were promoted to the Premier League the previous two times, the Madejski was something of a fortress for them and if they are to turn around the slump they are in then improving their home form would be an important step to take.
Recent loan signing from Aston Villa Tommy Elphick made his Royals debut as a second-half substitute in the previous fixture and the former Bournemouth captain made his first start against Millwall. The centre-back once again impressed as part of a back three alongside Liam Moore but saw his day unfortunately cut short by what looked like a knee injury. Him going off marked the beginning of the end for Reading in the match.
With captain Paul McShane also sidelined by yet another injury, Stam opted to call upon the services of Tyler Blackett to replace Elphick in order to keep the three centre-back formation rather than switching to a traditional back four. This turned out to be a terrible decision as Blackett made a number of errors including one leading to the second Millwall goal. Despite having come on as a substitute, Blackett was himself substituted off in the 75th minute in a move which prompted loud boos from the Reading fans who were clearly unhappy with the former Manchester United mans performance.
It was well known that the previous fixture against bottom side Burton Albion was must-win for Reading but so was this fixture. As much as many fans like to think that there are three worse teams than Reading (and hopefully there will be come the end of the season) but at the moment the list of teams that are playing worse than Reading is getting shorter and shorter.
Millwall are four places and six points above Reading and may still be dragged into a relegation scrap and it is teams like them, teams around Reading that the Royals cannot afford to lose to or they may well end up as one of the three worst teams in the league. Three of Reading’s next four fixtures are against promotion contenders and so will only naturally be more difficult which makes picking up points against teams like Millwall all the more important. Relegation becomes a more real prospect each week it seems.