“It’s a horrible run at the moment, we just need to get a point or something to get out of this little run. And we’ve got to keep going… all we can do is dig in and go again on Saturday.”– Reading Manager Brian McDermott
“We got off to a horrible start when we didn’t pick up the man but the response from the players was very good. I thought we were a threat and the biggest plus is that we saw an improvement. It was a typical Championship game but thankfully it went our way.”– Hull City Manager Steve Bruce
Reading suffered their fourth successive defeat on Tuesday evening despite initially taking the lead early on through Jake Cooper. A first half goal from Abel Hernandez levelled the score for Hull and a late strike from defender Andrew Robertson was enough for the Tigers to secure all three points. While it was another night to forget for Reading, Hull’s victory secured them at least a spot in the play-offs as they look for promotion back into the Premier League.
Brian McDermott made a couple of changes going into the game with Anton Ferdinand coming into defence and Deniss Rakels handed a start up front alongside Matej Vydra and Simon Cox. With three of Reading’s four strikers starting at once, it was one of the more attacking line-ups to be seen at the Madejski this season and one that appeared to work early on.
After just four minutes of the game Reading were to take the lead, but it was not through one of their strikers. Instead it was Oliver Norwood who delivered an inch perfect free kick into the box for Cooper to head into the Hull goal. While it was poorly defended by Hull, it was put away well by the young centre-back. The problem with scoring so early on, however, is that you then have to hold onto the lead for the majority of the game. Despite being the better team for large periods of the first half, Reading could only hold out until the eighteen minute mark.
Hernandez will have been earmarked as a threat prior to the game due to his pace- An asset that was demonstrated with Hull’s opening goal. Following a long through ball by Tom Huddlestone, Hernandez outpaced Cooper before slotting home his nineteenth goal of the season through the legs of Ali Al-Habsi.
Hull had the better chances as the first half drew to a close, with Adama Diomande and Huddlestone coming closest to giving the away side the lead. Reading had their chances too, however, when Norwood tested Allan McGregor in the Hull goal and Harry Maguire only narrowly avoided putting the ball into his own net following an attempted clearance by Curtis Davies.
As the second half got under way, there was little to report for either side. That was to change on the hour mark when Rakels appeared to be fouled in the box by Maguire. The referee initially signalled for a penalty but following a discussion with the linesman opted instead for a corner. While the attendance was only 12,949, it was clear that the vast majority were dismayed at the referee’s decision and it would appear that perhaps Rakels is already getting himself a reputation.
With continuous decisions not going Reading’s way, the players became increasingly determined to try and grab a goal. Yann Kermorgant, on in place of Vydra, was linking up nicely with Rakels and the latter could only find the side netting with his effort. Stephen Quinn, playing against his former club, was also to have an attempt with his cross come shot but it was gathered by McGregor. Kermorgant then had his headed effort saved for the home side and Hernandez failed to give Hull the lead when his shot from the edge of the area was hit directly at Al-Habsi.
Just ten minutes from time, however, Hull were to grab their second goal of the game and ultimately seal the win. After being given far too much space by Garath McCleary, Robertson was able to run at the Reading defence and drill in a long range effort into the bottom corner of Al-Habsi’s goal. While Reading’s players often lacked the confidence to have an effort on goal, it was something that could not be said of Hull’s left back.
Hull could have had the opportunity to increase the score further when substitute Chuba Akpom was fouled on the edge of the Reading area but the referee failed to give the decision once again. Ultimately, just two goals were needed for the away side to secure their comeback victory as they saw out the game. While the overall performance was an improvement on recent times, it was still not enough for Reading to take anything from the game.
Despite wanting to end the season on a high, the Royals are still struggling to make their superiority count. The players are clearly good at keeping possession most of the time, but the strikers are nowhere near clinical enough and the formation at times is not doing them any favours. Nine times out of ten, the Reading players will play the extra pass instead of taking on the shot. The end result is a wasted opportunity and a frustrated fanbase. With so much going against them this season, and refereeing decisions consistently being poor, the Reading players do not appear to have the mental strength to be able to hold onto games especially with nothing left to play for.
It is clear that the problems continue to pile up for Reading; The side have lost their fourth consecutive game in front of their lowest attendance in over twelve years with two players currently out through suspension due to fighting with one another. The fans are clearly not liking what they are seeing on the pitch and the players are struggling to get the results that give the fans something to get enthused about. It has been said for weeks now, but the end of the season could not come around fast enough.