All strikers go through periods where they just can't seem to get a goal no matter how hard they try and right now Simon Cox is knee deep in one of those spells. The Reading striker hasn't found the back of the net in well over a year, with his last goal coming against Norwich on December 28th, 2014. Since then it's been a pretty rough ride for Coxy, who's not netted in his last 33 appearances, with four of those coming during a miserable loan spell at Bristol City.
I'll say here that I've got nothing against our Simon, after all he is 'one of our own' and you can never fault him for his effort. However, a striker who hasn't scored for 16 months isn't overly useful if you want to be in promotion contention and unless he puts away a few in the remaining games of the campaign, it's hard to see him earning a new deal.
To be fair to Cox he's not the only Reading forward who's gone through a drought, so here's a few that stick in my mind from the past 20-odd years.....
Tony Rougier: 67 Games (2000-2002)
Rouge couldn't have made a much better start to life at Reading, opening his Royals account with two goals in the rain against Oxford in a dramatic 4-3 win in October 2000. Unfortunately for Tony, those would be the only goals he'd score for close to two years. Primarily a winger, Rougier eventually broke his streak with a vital goal in an away draw at Tranmere in April 2002.
Thankfully his next goal would come just eight games later against Stoke and four more followed before he was allowed to leave for Brentford in the autumn of 2003. He'd bag seven more times before hanging up his boots in 2004.
Paul Brayson: 49 Games (1998-2000)
Brayson was one of Tommy Burns' magnificent seven' from transfer deadline day in 1998. The striker may have been small at 5' 4" but he'd earned a big reputation in the Newcastle youth team, smashing records and being tipped as one of the next big things. Burns worked with Brayson while he was head of the club's Academy and promptly brought the then 20-year-old with him to Berkshire for around £100k.
Things looked bright to begin with as Brayson netted in a 3-1 defeat at Wolves in April 1998 on just his fourth appearance but that would turn out to be his only goal in two years at the football club. Paul would end up playing another 40 odd games for the club but failed to hit the back of the net, only breaking his streak two-years later on April 22nd 2000 while playing for Cardiff at Oldham.
A nomadic career followed for young Brayson but he did achieve somewhat fame while at Northwich Victoria where he became the first man to be named the FA Cup 'player of the round' twice.
Jobi McAnuff: 37 Games (2013-14)
A Championship winning captain? Yes. A tricky hard-working winger? Yes. A prolific goalscorer? No.
To be fair to Jobi he was never really in the team to score goals but he was prone to ridiculous goalless runs that you wouldn't ordinarily expect from a winger. His longest gap between goals was 37 games between netting against Manchester United in February 2013 and scoring a double at Birmingham the following March but he also managed to go 30 games between goals during 2009 and 2010.
Jobi hasn't exactly turned things around since leaving Reading but has managed returns of three and four goals during his two seasons with Leyton Orient. Career wise he's averaging 0.09 goals-per-game, something that makes our next entrant look prolific in comparison.....
Hal Robson-Kanu: 31 Games (2015-16)
Oh Hal, you always find some way to make it into my articles don't you? The Wales forward may have earned a lot more love lately but he went more than 30 games and 10 months between scoring against Bradford in the FA Cup in March 2015 and again in the same competition against Huddersfield this past January. Even more remarkable is the fact that Hal's winner against Rotherham in February was his first in the league since he bagged alongside Cox in a 2-1 win over Norwich in December 2014.
HRK's future is yet to be written but a career return of just 33 league goals in 238 appearances suggests that while he may wear nine on his back, he's unlikely to find a long-term calling up front.
Kevin Doyle: 21 Games (2007-08)
We all love Kevin Doyle don't we? He's one of the most loveable and talented players ever to grace the Madejski Stadium but it wasn't always easy.
The 2007/08 relegation season was the first real slump of Doyler's professional career and while part of that can be traced back to the team's form and being played out of position, the fact is that Doyle went over 20 games between goals for club & country. After scoring in our 3-1 win over Liverpool on December 8th, Doyle wouldn't find the goal again until the final game of the season at Derby on May 11th, where we would end up relegated. Doyle's meagre return of just six league goals that season simply wasn't good enough and it did lead to some Reading fans calling for a young hungry forward by the name of Cox to get a run in the team.....
Fortunately, Kevin rebounded the next season and went on to enjoy a highly successful career, proof that class is permanent but form is temporary.
So those are just a few of the droughts that stick in my mind from the past few years but let us know those runs that you thought would never end...