“It was ridiculous we went in 1-0 down, how we went in behind at the break I do not know! We created countless chances, they score, but we kept going and we turned it around to win 2-1.”– Reading Manager Brian McDermott
” We did okay. We did not press high up the pitch. We sat off them and tried to hit them on the counter-attack.”– Nottingham Forest Manager Paul Williams
Despite going 1-0 down against the run of play, Oliver Norwood and his Reading team-mates came back to win Tuesday night’s game against Nottingham Forest 2-1. Ben Osborn gave Forest the lead in the first half but two goals in the second from Matej Vydra and Oliver Norwood were enough to hand Reading the fully deserved victory.
Following Reading’s narrow win over Bolton, courtesy of a late Ola John goal, Vydra came under much scrutiny regarding his inability to put away the chances that came his way. Brian McDermott went on to defend the player, saying that he would not single out members of his squad.
It was somewhat surprising, therefore, that the only change that McDermott made going into the game was to drop Vydra to the bench in favour of Simon Cox. Subsequently, Reading played with Cox and Yann Kermorgant up front and deployed the diamond in midfield made up of Lucas Piazon, Danny Williams, Stephen Quinn and Norwood.
Reading started the game in a familiar fashion, passing the ball around nicely in midfield and retaining possession. It looked as if the side had been practising crossing in training the week before, as Jordan Obita and Chris Gunter got forward at every opportunity to whip the ball into the box. Obita, in particular, was effective and had the beating of his man on nearly every occasion.
The problem for the Royals was that they still were not clinical when it came to finishing their chances. Kermorgant is the obvious target man in the box and subsequently all the crosses were destined for his head. I lost count of the number of headed opportunities that fell the striker’s way before the end of the game, but none of them could be directed into Dorus de Vries’ net. The pounding the turf took in frustration suggests that Kermorgant knew he should also be doing better.
Reading had ample opportunity to take the lead in the first half, with chances falling to Cox, Williams and Paul McShane. It was Forest who were to take the lead, however, against the run of play. Al-Habsi was relatively untroubled in the Reading goal for a large portion of the opening period, with only a long range Ben Osborn effort forcing him into a save. A Henri Lansbury through ball, however, cut open the defence and picked out Osborn. The midfielder then slotted the ball past the Reading goalkeeper to give Forest a surprising lead.
Despite being the better team, Reading went into half-time behind. It was the story of the season and the Royals were seemingly lacking the ability to finish their chances once again.
As the second half got underway, Reading were the side on top once more but failed to create any real chances against a Forest side happy to sit deep and defend. Forest nearly doubled their lead with Osborn threatening again, but his shot from inside the area was saved by Al-Habsi.
With an hour of the game gone, and with Reading still behind, McDermott made a double change in an attempt to liven things up a bit. The intent was clear as the Reading manager brought on Vydra and John in place of Piazon and Cox- Reading needed a goal.
Despite being one of Reading’s most effective players in recent times, John seemed to struggle in the last half an hour of the game. In fact, Reading still did not look like they would make a breakthrough. It was therefore a moment of individual flair, and some luck, that was to get the Royals back into the game.
Reading fans know that Norwood has a powerful, long range shot on him but the home side were lucky for the equaliser when his effort was deflected into the net by Vydra. Despite being awarded to the striker, it was thanks to Norwood that Reading were back in the game.
Just fifteen minutes after the equaliser, Norwood was to be rewarded for his earlier assist with a goal of his own. Receiving the ball outside the box, the midfielder fired spectacularly from range and watched the shot bounce off the post into the net. It was a brilliant solo effort and handed Reading a fully deserved victory.
Overall, it was an impressive Reading performance that was deserving of all three points. Forest were a poor side, but made the most of the chance when it came their way to take the lead.
In reality, Reading could have scored several more but still seem to be lacking an extra attacking edge in the final third. With Obita and Gunter allowed free roam of the wings, the home side were able to create a number of chances out wide but Kermorgant could not quite direct them into the net.
The diamond formation also seemed to work quite well- At least until John came on. With Reading possessing two full backs intent on attacking, the side made good use of the wings, while looking solid in the middle. Obita, in particular, looked good going forward but occasionally struggled defensively. Norwood, however, was back to his best, being allowed time on the ball to work his magic from a deeper position.
A brief mention also has to be given to McShane. Once again, the centre-back looked unfazed throughout the game and was a rock in Reading’s defence. Admittedly, there was not much for him to deal with most of the time but having someone as calm as him in the team is a major positive.
While it is too late to dream of promotion, Reading are now unbeaten in three games and putting together some impressive performances. If the Royals are to continue a late push up the table, they are going to have to perform against a number of the top sides in the division. With Reading’s current run at home, however, fans will be optimistic of a good performance next time out against Birmingham.