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What I.Saw: Reading Were Robbed Well And Proper
Thursday, 14th Jan 2016 06:55 by I.Saw

“Awful, we were awful”; not my words, rather those of Paul Clement, Derby County’s Manager speaking to Radio Derby straight after Tuesday night’s one all draw with Reading at the iPro Stadium.

You could offer many more. He did. Tearing into the collective performance rather than the individual players.

But what went wrong? Why did our wheels come off?

From the off, we start strongly, Tom Ince, pushes forward centrally, chasing anything and everything. Chris Martin commits to closing down. We start well.

Visitors, Reading, though look good also, even in their new “African Violet” (mauve, in my eyes but I will admit to being colour-blind) kit. They press and move together in a band up and down the pitch like the parallel ruler on a Technical Drawing Board – such is their precision. They leave no gaps, their players are close, passes short, passes swift. Accurate too.

We begin to look jaded, static, bereft of ideas. Quite frankly, we begin to look under the cosh.

Then we score. Against the run of play. A corner in by Ince in front of the West Stand, “It’s a rubbish corner” shouted him next to me in the stands. And before I could agree or disagree, the ball has been turned home by an unmarked Jason Shackell in the Six Yard Box. In truth, if it was a poor corner, it was turned great by woeful defending and a good finish.

Barely ten minutes gone and we are in the lead.

We coast, or rather we try to. The Royals press forward, Matej Vydra faster than a ferret down a drain pipe outpaces Shackell, his flowing blond hair whips past our defender and he tumbles. Close in the stands we see a penalty claim turned down. It had its merits.

Merit wasn’t a word associated much with referee David Coote, an official whose control of the match starts with the continual pushing of throw-ins back five yards. Control that begins failing with a series of bookings where players walk away rather than listen to him.

Issuing a Yellow Card to Martin when shoving the obnoxious, former Forest defender Chris Gunter forcibly to floor when it really deserved a Red. A lack of control which cumulates much later with play being allowed to continue despite a head injury to Richard Keogh and visiting keeper Ali Al Ahabsi calling immediately for the trainer.

Not that the ref materially affects the result, he can’t even do that. Yet if he is poor we are poorer.

On 38 minutes we are dissected down our right, clever play sees the Rams rear-guard sliced wide open and the well-built Number 9, Hal Robson-Kanu, seemingly stroll through to reach the touchline. A cross deep, a cross high, a cross right under Johnny Russell, right under Bradley Johnson, bread and butter to defend, you just have to jump. We didn’t. Danny Williams did and the net bulges.

One all and deserved.

It’s now all Reading, the pale purple shirts move like ghosts whilst we chase shadows.

Half time and we expect changes. There are none.

Nick Blackman stands alone on the wing, a periphery part. From the Cup match at the weekend and the first forty-five tonight he looks like a finisher, a player to run on to balls off the shoulder of the last defender, a scorer, a fox in the box, a younger Darren Bent or a Nathan Tyson if you prefer. A winger no.

Given Abdoul Camara played so well against Hartlepool we will the change for Russell. It doesn’t happen. We take the field as we left it and the Royals take the game.

They flow as smooth as a wave, a back four and six fluid, fast moving, front men rolling and cresting over the White shirted defences. We are lost at sea. Our back four is Arsenal style in a line just lacking the string. Our two in midfield Johnson and Jacob Butterfield are overwhelmed and swept away as our remaining players play as a front four in a straight line.

We have no volume in midfield.

It’s 4-2-4 for the Rams everybody is looking for the killer ball and we have nobody to provide it. “Get on the Scoresheets Lads” you hear it every week from the parents on the touchline as they encourage their offspring to go for glory.

Him sat next to me who plays; “How much do they earn for this”, “Give me £100 and I’d at least try to fill the gaps”. I don’t argue.

Belatedly we change, Jeff Hendricks gives us twenty-five minutes of searching for the ball that Johnson couldn’t reach. Outnumbered two to one, he seldom finds it and eventually Camara replaces the ineffective Russell.

By now though we are well and truly beaten. In sprit, in belief, if not in result. And that little relief is down mainly to Lee Grant pulling off a couple of fantastic saves to deny the Royals.

The final whistle and we escape with a point. Reading were robbed. Well and Proper.

We sit in the queue to escape the Car Park, we listen to Paul Clement on the radio.

The truth hurts don’t it.

Match Highlights:

Post Match Interviews:

Paul Clement was not happy after the match…

Richard Keogh wants a reaction from the team on Saturday.


Photo: Action Images

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