Match Report: Reading 2-1 Blackpool
Football is full of banana skins, and yesterday's game was certainly one. The Seasiders travelled to a Reading side who hadn't won at home in eleven months and had only scored three goals at home all season. The stage really was set for the Seasiders to lose, wasn't it?
Our great start to the season has been built upon an imperious home record. Away from home however, we're not clicking. For me, there are two reasons for this:
1. We're not defending from the front. When we're at home, teams will sit back and let us play our passing game. When they're at home however, they want the initiative and to dictate play, so it's the job of our attackers and midfielders to impose themselves on the game and close down the opposition, and we're not doing that enough. I know Ollie's been working on it very hard in training however.
2. We lack pace if Bouazza and/or Clarke aren't selected. Sometimes away from home you're going to be restricted to playing on the counter, and that becomes damn hard when your front three and Burgess, Ormerod and Euell. I can understand why Ollie would go for that attack away from home, but I think he's missing a trick by not playing a pacey winger from the start. Either Clarke or Bouazza would allow us to stretch the game, allowing the likes of Adam and Vaughan more time and scope for picking their passes. Just look at the impact that Billy Sharp had against us for Doncaster, stretching our defence in a game that featured a very congested midfield.
Anyway, onto yesterday's game.
Matt Gilks has steadily begun to establish himself as Ollie's first choice keeper with a string of good displays, and yesterday was another.
With not even a minute gone, he turned away Jobi McAnuff's low shot across the goal after the winger had tormented Alex Baptiste.
He then denied Brian Howard, blocked a Simon Church effort and denied Jimmy Kebe inside the first fifteen minutes as Reading dominated.
Gilks also saved a Jay Tabb shot before seeing a Howard shot go wide as Reading plied on the pressure.
Several people have said that Reading's performances are a lot better than their league position, and so yesterday proved.
On twenty five minutes, the Seasiders had their first chance of the game. Charlie Adam played a great ball to Jason Euell who laid it off into the path of Ben Burgess, but the big man's low shot was turned away by Adam Federici for a corner.
A minute later Adam was booked for pesistent fouling. He really is akin to Paul Scholes when it comes to tackling!
Ian Evatt shot over on the half hour, as did Simon Church five minutes later.
Five minutes before the break, Blackpool should have been ahead. Ben Burgess, with the goal at his mercy, conspired to hit the post however. For me, that just sums up how hit and miss Burgess is and I fully understand why people constructively criticise him when he does something like that (although what I don't like is when people criticise him for the sake of criticising him).
Had his shot gone in, we might have won yesterday. Being just before half time, it was the perfect time to score as it would have really knocked Reading's fragile confidence. Instead, it perhaps gave them belief that today was finally going to be their day... if only they could score!
Either way, it went to further show just how much we need a striker and let's hope that Holloway's relentless search comes up trumps in the New Year. We'll have a Scout Report for you later in the week on a striker that has caught the eye this season.
Before the half time whistle was blown, there was still time for Stephen Crainey to pick up a booking and for Gilks to save again, this time from Siguardsson.
HT: Reading 0-0 Blackpool
Joe Martin replaced Crainey at left back at half time as the Seasiders began proceedings a little better this time around - Charlie Adam smashing narrowly over early doors.
Jason Euell went close as 'Pool had the better of the early stages of the second half, but from a cleared David Vaughan corner, the Royals broke at pace through Jobi McAnuff who eventually squared for Sigurdsson to fire home. 1-0 Reading.
'Pool were level almost immediately however; Adam and Burgess linked up before Adam crossed for Brett Ormerod to hook the ball home. Game on.
Ormerod was sent racing free just two minutes later, but unfortunately the through ball just had too much weight on it and Federici was able to clear after racing off his line.
Gilks then produced a fine reflex save to prevent Keith Southern scoring an own goal after the midfielder had misdirected his header from a Howard corner.
Billy Clarke then replaced Southern with Jason Euell moving across to the heart of midfield, Clarke taking his place on the left.
Marcel Seip was then booked for a late challenge, before Burgess nearly scored with ten minutes remaining. Joe Martin sent in a brilliant cross to Burgess at the back post who nodded the ball to Euell. The ball eventually found it's way back to Burgess who curled just over with Federici beaten.
Having been the better team in the second half, 'Pool conceded a winner wiht five minutes left. Jobi McAnuff crossed for Gregorz Rasiak to head home after Blackpool failed to clear their lines.
Gary Taylor-Fletcher was thrown on late on, and he fired one just over the bar following Euell's jinking run.
Ian Evatt was then sent into attack as Blackpool searched desperately for an equaliser, and nearly had one, but Evatt could only fire over the bar from a good position.
Baptiste then heading just over by a whisker from an Adam corner, and the referee brought proceedings to an end. Reading had their precious home win, whilst Blackpool are left dusting themselves off and readying themselves for the visit of Preston next Monday. Let's hope that another home record is not ended that night!