Reading were unable to make a breakthrough on what was a freezing Saturday afternoon, but luckily for them neither could their opponents. Despite both sides having the opportunity to grab a winner, the game between the Royals and Barnsley ended in a 0-0 draw.
Here are some of the things that came out of the game.
This is a subject that could easily be discussed before, during and after every game until the end of the season. The main concern is that it is playing into the hands of the opposition when the advantage should be with the home side.
During the game there are two moments that stood out. Firstly Liam Moore looking down at the pitch when the ball seemed to get stuck under his feet and secondly when Roy Beerens nearly managed to fall over twice in succession while simply trying to dribble the ball.
The pitch is making it difficult for Reading to play their style of game but it cannot be used as an excuse. If they are to continue their push for promotion they will simply have to adapt.
Reading Lack Cutting Edge
The Royals failed to score for the first time since their 1-0 defeat to QPR on the 12th January despite having several opportunities to do so. The best chance of the game probably fell to Danny Williams but he failed to properly connect with the ball to make the chance count.
Barnsley deserve a lot of credit for their resolute defending, which made life very difficult for Reading. The Royals, however, did not help themselves with the often slow pace of their attacking play and sometimes stagnant movement.
The pitch will undoubtedly be playing on their mind but here’s hoping they play with a bit more tempo on Tuesday evening.
New Signings Look Lively
The first notable thing about Saturday’s team was the lack of January signings in the starting eleven. Jordon Mutch scored in his debut for the Royals against Ipswich Town but missed out against Barnsley due to injury. Adrian Popa, Reece Oxford and Lewis Grabban were all included on the bench.
When Grabban was brought on at half-time I was optimistic that he could make the difference for the home side. Then he had a chat with Danny Williams and sat in front of the defence. Now he was not bad in midfield and the signs are promising, but the relationship he has with Yann Kermorgant is somewhat wasted if he is not up front.
Popa was brought on for the last eight minutes and it is very difficult to judge someone in such a short space of time. That said, he looks pacey and capable of getting in behind the opposition defence if he can stay onside.
The new signings have had limited time on the pitch so far but if the early signs are anything to go by then they will definitely be assets as time goes on.
Tyler Blackett has been on the receiving end of a fair amount of stick during his time at Reading but against Barnsley he put in a “Man of the Match” worthy performance. Playing at centre-back due to the injuries to Paul McShane, Joey van den Berg and Tiago Ilori, Blackett looked strong and made some vital interceptions.
What is becoming increasingly clear is that the ex-United defender is more suited to the centre of defence than the left. It is unlikely that he will remain there once McShane and Ilori return but for now he is doing a great job for the team.
Stam And His Subs
Not for the first time this season, the use of the subs bench by Stam was somewhat of a concern. Without wanting to criticise the newly crowned Championship manager of the month, it would have been nice to have seen him make some of the changes a little earlier.
Lewis Grabban was brought on at half-time, which was great, but in an ineffective position. Adrian Popa was brought on with eight minutes of the game remaining and Yakou Meite was introduced for the last two minutes. Bearing in mind the score was 0-0 and the Barnsley defence would have been getting tired, it would have made more sense to give the likes of Popa and Meite more time to try and make a breakthrough.
The Run Continues
While a 0-0 draw was not the ideal result, Reading are unbeaten in five games and are fourth in the Championship table.
Much has been said in recent times about how fans should not be disappointed if Reading don’t finish in the top six. When comparing to recent seasons, the top half of the table would be a great result. That said, the Royals have done so well and have a great squad at their disposal so why not push for promotion?