I’m not really sure what I was expecting from Saturday’s game at Villa. With my step-mum passing away a few weeks ago, mixed in with horrific traffic and work commitments, I’ve been very limited when following our first four games of the season. But I definitely got the tale of two halves which has cropped up on a couple of occasions this campaign.
Reading (4-4-2): Mannone; Yiadom, Ilori, Moore, Blackett; Aluko, Bacuna, Meyler, Barrow; Baldock, Bodvarsson.
Subs: Walker, O’Shea, Kelly, Swift, Sims, Meite, McNulty.
I was impressed with our first half performance. Pleasantly surprised shall we say. It was far from perfect, but definitely watchable and there were many positives to take from it. We got forward, got into some decent positions and defended very calmly to keep Villa’s attacking options quiet and effectively shut out of the game.
I felt like we finished the half strongly, creating chances and kept the pressure on by having a run of three consecutive corners. However, it almost felt like it was job done when we’d got to the end of the first half and hadn’t conceded.
We did just seem to self destruct at times in the second half. We didn’t really get going after the break. A string of poor defensive decisions led to Villa’s goal, and when Baldock hit the bar from point blank range it really felt like we were going to walk away empty handed.
Getting a late equaliser is a fantastic feeling when you’ve been on the back foot for the majority of the game. But it’s ultimately just plastered over the cracks of how terrible we were after the break. The midfield in particular just felt very empty and spacious, and we still have something missing there at the moment.
I’m not slating the point we got at all. To come away from Villa Park at any point in the season with some kind of result is decent. It’s a tough place to go and after the summer they were shaping up to have, it seems like they found the light at the end of the tunnel. Everytime Villa went forward they looked threatening and had the potential to score. Although we definitely made chances, it didn’t feel like they troubled Villa particularly.
I have certainly seen us play a lot worse, but it still definitely felt to me like something was missing. In terms of our squad, I don’t think it’s any worse than the majority of the league, but it just lacks that something special.
It’s missing a player at the moment that stands out, and adds that quality we need to hold onto games and see them out. It’s definitely still early days, but I really want something to cheer about sooner rather than later.
Play like we played in the first half = we’ll be fine this season.
Play like we played in the second half = we’re in for a very long season.
What did you think of how the game went on Saturday? Leave us a comment below.