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Tactics Review: Lethargic Royals Struggle Against Tigers

Jordan Obita’s opener was cancelled out by a late deflected equaliser.

Nottingham Forest v Reading - Sky Bet Championship - City Ground Photo by Bradley Collyer/PA Images via Getty Images

Reading kicked off their home clash with Hull City in a 3-5-2: Rafael; Gunter, Morrison, Moore, Blackett, Obita; Pele, Swift, Ejaria; Baldock, Meite.

With 120 minutes (plus penalties) being played in midweek, Reading were looking considerably lethargic all throughout their clash with the Tigers. Reading looked to take the game to a Hull side reeling from the losses of both Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki, not to mention coming off the back off a 1-5 defeat to Brentford.

Mark Bowen reverted to three centre backs with wing backs, and Reading once again struggled in the wide areas, with both full backs unable to effectively beat their men (while also being doubled or tripled up on to prevent the cross). This was partially improved in the second period, with Blackett offering an overlapping threat on the left wing.

Most of the home side’s attacks came through the middle, with an array of passes into congested areas in the hope of a dummy or flick to get a forward in on goal. Sam Despite Baldock’s high pressure on the Hull defence and a few Tigers slip ups, they managed to get into the break level while only threatening with a few attempts on the counter.

In the second period, after a switch to a back four, Reading found the breakthrough thanks to some patient passing round the box, ending with Swift sliding in Obita, who fired home at the near post. Apart from leading to the opening goal, Reading struggled to create too many more clear-cut opportunities with an effort from Ejaria after fantastically fashioning space for himself the closest they came to doubling their advantage.

Hull’s best player on the pitch by far was Peterborough loanee Marcus Maddison, who gave the visitors their main threat going forwards. Thanks to a deflected Mallik Wilks effort, Hull claimed an undeserved point and from then on, only the visitors threatened, led by the impressive Maddison.

New signing Felipe Araruna impressed throughout at right back, helping to create a good chance for Sam Baldock, after replacing the injured Gunter midway through the first half. Managing to switch positions at time with John Swift, the two linked up well but struggled for support down the right side, with neither able to beat a man for pace.

With Bowen making all three substitutes before the equaliser, the plan was seemingly to see the game out rather than push for a second, and was understandable given the side’s cup exploits in midweek. However, some poor defending in which none of the three centre halves pressed Wilks to prevent him from getting a shot away undid the Royals in a game in which Rafael did not have to exert himself too strenuously. With Reading perhaps unfortunate to not see out the win, pressure mounts on the side to get a result against West Brom in midweek.