Wednesday night against Barnlsey was bad. The defending was bad, going forward we were bad and just in general - we were very bad. So with that in mind, I’m sure the fans were expecting a bit of a reaction against Stoke City... they didn’t really get it.
Mark Bowen and Liam Moore have come out after the game saying that the performance on the whole was an improvement on the Barnsley match, and the fact that we got a clean sheet and defensively were pretty sound suggests they are right. But ask the majority of the fans if they agree with the gaffer and the captain, and I’m sure you’ll get a resounding “no”.
As supporters, we want to see our team attack, go forward and look dangerous - granted, that can’t always be the case, but we expected a lot more from the players in a creative and attacking sense against the Potters, a lot more.
Zero shots on target from both teams tells the story of what a terrible spectacle it was for every fan - both of the Reading and the Stoke City variety. It is something that needs to be addressed quickly by Bowen - we need to look more dangerous going forward or else we aren’t going to win games.
Here’s how the fans reacted to some of the key talking points to come from the match...
Even more injury woes
This can’t be made to be an excuse for the poor performance, but when you have Andy Yiadom, John Swift, George Puscas and Matt Miazga all unable to play due to being injured, your task is going to be a lot harder.
These players need to be back in our team as soon as possible - particularly Swift. His presence was missed more than ever as we just looked devoid of any creativity or any ideas on how to attack.
We all knew about Swift and Yiadom before the Stoke game, and probably were expecting Puscas to be unavailable due to the shoulder injury that forced him off against Barnsley. However, no one was expecting key centre back Miazga to also be injured - and it wasn’t news that went down too well with the Loyal Royals...
Watching paint dry Watching #ReadingFC try to attack without Swift— Alex Everson (@Readingfanman) December 14, 2019
Remember when people didn't believe just how important John Swift was #readingfc.... He is the catalyst for everything— Olly_URZ (@OllyURZ) December 14, 2019
Oh no ♀️— Christina Sweeney (@ccorp86) December 15, 2019
You can’t be serious.— JMC (@itsjumka) December 14, 2019
@willow1871 @BBCBerkshire All these injuries reminds me of what one of our biggest losses ever was - Jon Fearn to Chelsea. #readingfc— Andy C #FBPE (@AndyRFCCharman) December 14, 2019
#readingfc players picking up knocks for fun and looking lethargic and leggy in games. I wonder if there is something in the training that is making the players wrecked and injury prone. When the body’s tired, the head becomes sloppy too. Thoughts @willow1871— SKB777 (@skb777) December 14, 2019
Zero shots on target
Yep, you read that right. Reading didn’t manage to force Jack Butland into a save all game. 90 minutes without having a shot that a goalkeeper had to save, in fact we only had three shots all game - and I’m struggling to think of those three.
We need Swift back as soon as physically possible. To be fair, having him on crutches in the middle of the pitch and one leg would have been a better alternative than what we have had in the last three games. The fans were left bored, angry, frustrated and bereft of any enthusiasm after the game thanks to another woeful attacking performance...
Very disappointing game today, really lacked creativity, which was proved by our fantastic total of 0 shots on target. Very frustrating to watch, especially after travelling 150 miles. Moore had a pretty poor game and we started slowly and couldn’t get a move going #readingfc— Oli Bryant (@OliB_RFC) December 14, 2019
0-0 but to not have a single shot on target is abysmal #readingfc— Billy (@OliseSZN) December 14, 2019
Imagine going to stoke away and having 0 shots on target. Things are about to get tasty #readingfc— Louie Mitchell (@louiemitch4) December 14, 2019
3 hours travel for 3 shots.... 3 shots... Utter trash the lot of them... #readingfc— Matt Lansley (@mattlansley97) December 14, 2019
last two games should’ve been 6 points, 0 shots on target today aswell, feel for the fans who travelled #readingfc https://t.co/jEG4qYMjgN— l.hanton (@lhanton1) December 14, 2019
That was possibly the most boring game of football I’ve seen in a very long time. Not even a shot on target from either team #readingfc— Leaveyrfc (@aaronleavey99) December 14, 2019
If at team goes 90mins without a shot on target, should they have 1 point deducted? Serious question. #readingfc— Paul Towner (@PaulTowner) December 15, 2019
The deer had more shots on target yesterday than #readingfc https://t.co/PROAPZ4PJm— Trenchcoat (@Adamhumphries44) December 15, 2019
A clean sheet
One small, tiny positive to take from the game: we kept a clean sheet. Neutrals and some fans may say that to come away from home to Stoke, on a cold, windy winter afternoon and to pick up a point and a clean sheet is a good thing and a positive.
Some of those fans went on Twitter after the game to express their opinion but I’m afraid to say they were well in the minority - I think that’s a fair thing to say. On the face of it, for those not at the game, it was a good point and something that we can build on. In reality it was one of the drabbest games of football I’ve ever seen...
Bowen has made us a more solid side. A point away at a much improved Stoke is not to be sniffed at. If any of us were offered a point at Stoke before kick off you'd take it all day long. #readingfc— Nath St Paul (@NathStPaul) December 14, 2019
2 points away from home in the same week is ok providing we back it up with wins at home in the games coming up. Poor performances though which do concern me, but I do still think we'll still be lower mid table come the end of the season, around 15th or 16th. #ReadingFC— Milo (@MiloRoyal1871) December 14, 2019
I would say so. As they away team a point away from home is never a terrible result. Yes we didn't create much in an attacking sense the most important thing is we didn't find away to lose it as we have in the past.— Chris Hartley (@Chartley1983) December 15, 2019
Notice the same voices on here slating Bowen are the exact same ones who were adamant that football is a results business.— Bids (@SuburbanBadger) December 15, 2019
4 wins and 3 draws from his first 10 games.
Yes, the style has hardly been Barca 2011, but we're picking up points.
Patience is a virtue.#ReadingFC
Good point away from home & a clean sheet. Gives us something to build on. Disappointing to see people moan about the manager already. There is no magic fix other than keep working hard. #readingfc— Steven Kemp (@kempy26783) December 14, 2019
Lads look at the positives, 1 point and a clean sheet away from home is never a bad thing. It could be a lot worse.... we could support QPR #Readingfc— TomCrook (@tomcrook01) December 14, 2019
An afternoon to forget in Stoke - a sentence that I don’t think I’m the first, or will be the last, to say. How good of a result it is all depends on next Saturday. If we lose against Derby County then this looks like a huge missed opportunity and an even poorer performance than it already is.