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Five Things From Reading’s Narrow Loss To West Brom

On a frustrating night at the Mad Stad, George Puscas’ opener was cancelled out by two goals from the league leaders.

Reading v West Bromwich Albion - Sky Bet Championship - Madejski Stadium Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images

Lack of attacking threat

On Wednesday night, Reading only registered one shot on target and that was the penalty. The only other chance of note apart from Yakou Meite’s offside goal was a half chance for George Puscas which he snatched at and went way over. In contrast, West Brom had a whole host of chances and should have scored more.

West Brom’s press was a problem for Reading all evening and the complete lack of movement from anyone in blue made it difficult to fashion any clear-cut chances. Mark Bowen wants to play with wingers, but Meite and Ovie Ejaria are not suited to do this; they are both static when in possession and do not get close enough to the striker to win any second balls. I thought Michael Olise was excellent when given a chance in the league and Garath McCleary has put some good displays during the FA Cup so I would give them both a chance soon if we continue to play with wide men.

Glad to have Yiadom back

Chris Gunter has been excellent while Andy Yiadom has been injured and hasn’t put a foot wrong defensively in any of the games I have watched him. It was a big blow to learn that he will be injured till at least March before the game - however, we are lucky his injury has coincided with Yiadom’s return and not happened before now.

For all of Gunter’s good defensive work he is somewhat lacking in an attacking sense; he tends to panic when being closed down and plays a lot of long balls. In contrast you can tell Yiadom played as a winger earlier in his career - he is far more composed on the ball and is able to dribble past players with ease. His return should help Reading create more chances in the final third over the coming weeks.

Puscas needed that goal

When Puscas stepped up to take the penalty instead of John Swift I wasn’t best pleased, but on reflection it was definitely the right decision. Puscas hadn’t scored in the league in nearly three months since his hat-trick in an away game against Wigan Athetlic in late November.

You could tell he enjoyed scoring that goal and it was obvious that it gave him a boost for the rest of the game. Compared to previous matches he was closing down defenders quicker and putting himself about a lot more. Granted, he didn’t kick on and get a second, but I think that goal will give his confidence a world of good for the coming games. I hope to see him start on the weekend and hopefully put in another decent display.

Reading v West Bromwich Albion - Sky Bet Championship - Madejski Stadium Photo by David Davies/PA Images via Getty Images

Bowen given a contract too soon?

Since Bowen extended his contract on January 17, Reading have failed to win in six Championship games, losing half of those. I think Bowen was the perfect person to steady the ship; he knew the club and the players along with being an excellent defensive coach. Credit where it is due, he has taken us from the relegation zone to a position of relative safety with many of the lower-league opposition teams still to play.

However, his football does not excite me at all - we don’t create many clear-cut chances and there never seems to be any sort of plan when we get into the final third. We are missing Lucas Joao and decent out-and-out wingers, which is something we need to address in the summer, but I am yet to be convinced that Bowen is the man to take us forward at least in an attacking sense.

Why is Olise not getting more game time?

With Reading’s glaring lack of options on the wing you would think that after two good performances away to Nottingham Forest then home to Bristol City, Olise would have got more minutes. Especially as Bowen stated recently that he always trusted Olise in an attacking sense but now he felt he could undertake the defensive work to his standards.

When Olise played he looked very tidy, along with offering some good movement which created space for the players around him. He added a bit of unpredictability to a Reading attack which is desperately lacking in ideas most of the time. If our season is going to fizzle out into mid-table mediocrity I would give Olise a lot more minutes as we approach the end of the season.