Woeful, lacking in commitment and inconsistent. I’m not sure whether to apply that to Reading fans, Reading players or the referee.
After a recent good spell (bar the Cardiff game) Reading should have come into this game full of confidence and wanting to win. Stevenage came into this game on the back of a defeat, but only that one loss in the last 15 or so games. They wanted to win.
That was the main difference between the sides throughout as during the game, Reading never really found their flow and this told. Making three changes, bringing in Jay Tabb, Hal Robson-Kanu and Adam Le Fondre, Reading still had the type of side that would be used in the Championship so there can be no “fringe team” excuses.
For me, it all stems from the fans, having an attendance of just over 11,200 and apparently 1,600 of these being from Stevenage. How can we possibly expect our team to pull out a top class performance when there’s not even two stands completely full to play in front of? Then those that do bother to turn up, how can we expect them to want to play for us when after just a mere 16 minutes(yes, I counted) we are shouting abuse at our own players, moaning and groaning when anything doesn’t come off and just generally being negative.
I even heard people behind me shouting shoot, then when a player did at their behest, they shouted, “awful shot, should never go for it from that distance.” I mean, what? How can that possibly help?!?
Secondly, the referee was awful. In fact, I’ve never seen one quite so blind or inconsistent. Pushes in the back, holding onto players and even a push in the chest were all missed. Also fouls which committed by one team weren’t penalised when the other team did the same. That happened to both teams but the worst part was a push in the chest on Le Fondre being missed by both the referee and the assistant, I couldn’t believe it.
So yeah… fans awful, referee awful. Now I’ll move onto Reading’s poor performance. This will also deal with Stevenage’s great performance. They were good from the start, giving Reading no time in the ball, being well organised and attacking fast and in numbers. They then took the lead in a mixture of good and bad. First of all it was the complete fault of off colour Captain Jobi McAnuff. Having one of the off games that he is prone to having, he was trying to skill a blade of grass or something on the half-way line as he was eventually tackled and left on the floor.
Stevenage then attacked with pace and it eventually ended up with Charles getting the goal as the game hit the 20th minute mark. It was a horrid deflection that took the ball past the goalkeeper Federici and he could do nothing to stop it as it diverted away from it’s original path.
The game then really offered nothing apart from another chance for Charles who blasted over from about two yards away. Reading gave away the ball, were second to every loose ball and generally not interested in winning or even playing, which wasn’t nice to see. But fair play to Stevenage, they defended and attacked well and even controlled the midfield with ease.
The second-half was much the same as the first with Stevenage winning most of the balls in the air, on the floor, wherever else and it was a poor Reading display. Stevenage then had Federici pulling off a fine save from a long shot. Reading had a few chances but the best fell to Michael Antonio who was played in but skewed his side foot wide. Game over.
The most telling chant was “Championship, you’re having a laugh” and it’s true. Playing that standard was hardly Championship quality and we really need to sort it out or expect a slide down the table. On a positive note, we can now focus on the league and see if we can get to Wembley in the play-offs.
One last thing, good luck Stevenage.
Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Cummings (D’Ath 87), Harte, Gorkss, Pearce; Leigertwood, Tabb (Antonio 53), McAnuff (c), Robson-Kanu; Church, Le Fondre (Manset 64)
Subs: Andersen, Mills, Morrison, Gunnarsson
Booked: Le Fondre (foul 36)
Stevenage (4-4-2): Day; Henry, Laird, Ashton, Roberts (c); Byrom, Bostwick, Wilson, Freeman (Harrison 72); Beardsley (Edwards 89), Charles (Shroot 82)
Subs: Julian, Long, Cowan, Thalassit is