RAMBLE: Wednesday 0-2 Reading
It’s been a wretched last five matches with the exception of the Norwich win.
It’s not promotion form.
We were up against it from the start at Villa.
We only have ourselves to blame for not taking our chances only to get hit by an inevitable sucker punch.
It’s been our Achilles’ heel.
The red card cost us the game – did think it was watching it live (Carlos was stupid in getting sent to the stands and deservedly got fined). Even then, we had a good penalty shout and had a couple of chances. Second goal finished us off.
Now we’ve got Fulham breathing down our necks and thankfully, Lucas Joao kept them below us with a late equaliser for Blackburn the other night, I celebrated just a bit.
We shouldn’t be relying on other sides faltering; it’s our own undoing why we’re in this position. We’re consistently inconsistent.
On a sombre note, I have to mention the passing of Scott Marsden. I met him once and he was a good lad who had a good future ahead of him. Sadly, that’s been taken away – 14 is no age to die. Condolences to his friends and family.
If we weren’t about to go into our most important game of the season with the injuries we have, I’d be more confident. I couldn’t give a toss how we play; the result was the most important thing.
The pressure is only getting worse and we have to perform. To win promotion, you need an ability to get over the line, to deal with pressure and to get results when it matters. We’ve done it before, could we do it again?
Seeing Lees and Loovens in the starting XI was pleasing, it couldn’t have been better timed.
Welcome back, Glenn
I just hope we weren’t rushing them back because of the current situation and they suffer setbacks. We really couldn’t afford that but it was a risk worth taking.
The big names were still out and it was worrying. Also, nice to see Marco Matias was on the bench – alive and well after being out all season.
It was a must win game for both teams. Here, we’d see if we’re up for the battle and which players are truly up for the fight.
A win would stand us in good stead and with players returning from injuries, it’d be a massive psychological boost going into the international break.
Games under the Hillsborough lights can be special. I was hoping for exactly that.
The crowd was up for it on a rain soaked St Paddy’s night but it didn’t start well.
The first opportunity fell to Reading when a lobbed pass found Kermorgant but his effort was easily gathered by Westwood. They were looking a threat early on.
Fox: a poor start
Then it was our turn. A Bannan cross in found the head of Rhodes – but it was straight at Al-Habsi. Not long after that, Winnall glanced a header wide.
The opening goal arrived on 13 minutes after a long ball over the top from Swift was met by Kermorgant; he cut inside past Fox and fired in past Westwood. All too easy.
Their first away goal since February 4th – we love ending these runs, I swear.
Straight after that came the minutes applause for Scott and it was quite moving.
Many people (me included) standing up and clapping. May he rest in peace.
Midway through the half, Fox got a shot away from the edge of the box and it hit the base of the post and away to safety.
Then Tyler Blackett horribly took out Rhodes right in front of the dugout.
Everyone screamed for a red but an inevitable yellow came out.
Just before the break, a ball from the right found Winnall who headed to Rhodes and his header looked like it was going in but Al-Habsi made a superb save to tip it around the post. It was better from us but that didn’t stop some fans booing as the whistle went.
HALF TIME: WEDNESDAY 0-1 READING
Basically, we got outdone by one lofted pass and a failure to close a player down.
The same old story, as it has been for the vast majority of the season.
Despite the few chances we had, we looked slow and indecisive. Reading looked more composed and well organised.
Kermogant makes it 1-0
It was easy to say but we were missing the likes of Fernando, Hutch, Wallace and most importantly Lee. He makes our midfield tick and it’s a shame.
I wasn’t feeling optimistic – we needed to be a lot tougher, Would I’ve take a draw at this point? Absolutely.
With no subs being made, we needed to see more attacking impetus and within the opening minute, Reach fired just wide.
Rhodes came close again a few moments later, connecting with a Bannan free kick but narrowly missed the target.
We were continuing to pressure the Reading goal as another Rhodes chance came and went, this time a header easily held by Al-Habsi.
A positive change
McManaman came on with half an hour to go – he was finally getting more than junk minutes. A chance to show what he could do.
I could hear actual singing from the South stand – a rarity these days.
A group of lads singing “only one team in Yorkshire” for 10 minutes non-stop. Was probably the only highlight of the night.
Then Reading made their first meaningful attack of the half with 20 minutes to go.
Swift showed good feet, skipping by a couple of challenges, we couldn’t deal with it and fortunately it went just wide.
The back of the Kop was chanting “Carlos sort it out” which summed the night up for me.
First time I think the crowd have got at him.
Into the last 10 minutes and the penny finally dropped.
Buckley was denied twice, McManaman twice and Rhodes narrowly missed a low cross inside the 6 yard box. It was turning into the Al-Habsi show.
We must’ve had 5/6 corners in quick succession… All to no avail. We were getting no luck. More frustration.
Reading were hanging on. We even put Atdhe on in an attempt to get something. There were no other options. We had to go for it.
Deep into stoppage time, McManaman had yet another effort saved.
Last throw of the dice with a corner and Westwood was forward.
It was cleared, Reading broke away through Popa and he slotted the ball into an unguarded net. Game, set and match.
FULL TIME: WEDNESDAY 0-2 READING
It was a very cold, wet and windy night and this made me feel worse. I walked out of the ground thinking our season was over.
If we did some sort of fan cams after the game, I’d have gone into full on rant mode but I think I’ve cooled down now after sleeping on it.
At the start, I said it was a must win for both sides and we were the ones to fail, miserably.
A night to forget
I don’t want to hear any bullshit like “Oh we had 20+ shots and 10+ corners, we should’ve won.” No, I’m not having it.
Almost all of that came in the last 10 minutes, where were we for the first 80? It shouldn’t be forgotten about.
Can’t start showing commitment late in the game and expect to get something, it’s been our Achilles’ heel all season. Yes, their keeper had a blinder but it was awful to watch. We could’ve still been playing now and not scored.
Reading got a goal, sat on the lead, frustrated us and time wasted – which they had every right to do. They came with a plan and it worked.
We haven’t found a way to break teams down that “park the bus” – the Burton game being an example.
A late equaliser would’ve papered over the cracks of yet another tactically inept performance. Every time we’ve had a chance to push on, we’ve bottled it.
In a matter of a few weeks we have lost a seven point cushion, now it stands at a solitary point.
You could almost write the script. A slow start, we concede through sloppy defending then struggle to get an equaliser. It’s predictable, especially at home.
Carlos is feeling the pressure
There’s no pressing, the passing is really slow and there is no movement. Although when you take your creative players out, you’re always going to find it hard.
We’ve got away with it all season and now it’s starting to show. We’re so easy to play against and boring to watch. Apart from a select few games, we’ve not looked exciting.
The only positive I can scrape is Will Buckley, I thought he did really well considering he’s just come back from injury. And he’s not even our player.
The way we’re playing, we won’t finish in the play offs.
We’re going backwards – the slump in form has seen us take just four points from a possible eighteen.
Injuries have played their part and I’m not sure if the squad (and Carlos) can hack it.
On the evidence of what I’ve seen, it’s difficult for me to have any sort of faith.
There’s a lack of fight from the players and you can’t teach that. As I’ve said before, there’s a weak mentality in the camp and that comes down to the manager.
Carlos has eight games to sort it out and prove me wrong or he’s out of a job.
I just can’t see him being here for another season if we don’t achieve a top six finish.
DC surely won’t be happy given how much he’s put into the team. If we do make the play offs and not go up then it’s 50/50. It all comes down to DC and patience – he’s backed Carlos heavily with money but the main objective hasn’t been met.
There’s still time but it’s running out. Making a change now isn’t the solution.
I love Carlos and for everything he’s done but weaknesses still haven’t been addressed. The cracks in the side have now become a chasm.
Watching Jeff and the boys seeing the scores come through and Fulham lost 3-1 at home to Wolves.
It seems like they don’t want to overtake us.
We’ve got out of jail twice in the space of a week.
It’s more frustrating that we didn’t do our own job. We’ve had the chances but none taken. It shows how tough this league is.
We’re very lucky to still be in 6th place. It’s still in our hands, amazingly. Only we can mess it up and we’re trying to do just that. The international break should do us good, get some of our first team players back from injury and let’s kick on. No more excuses.
Whichever side of the fence you sit on, we have to unite as a fan base and get behind the team during this run in, starting at Barnsley.
I had a lot to say so I do apologise.
I’ll enjoy the 2 weeks off and I’m sure many of you will too.
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive and @LiamK2292