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Thread: Reading 0 United 2 - report

  1. #1
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    Reading 0 United 2 - report

    The Blades ended a recent bad run of games on Sky TV with a win at the Madjeski Stadium. United continued their recent good run at this stadium and made it two wins in successive seasons. Once again Billy Sharp was the hero; as he was last season with the crucial goal. George Baldock’s brother Sam scored in his own net to seal the three points. United had not been superb but had done plenty enough to win the game and recovered from a lackadaisical first half to boss the second half. United did not create lots of chances but still missed some big opportunities before finally Sharp delivered the crucial moment.

    Manager Wilder went back to his ‘Brentford’ line up (save Baldock for Freeman) with Washington and Lundstram restored for Sharp and Duffy. Reading had former Blade loanee Scott Marshall in temporary charge after disposing of manager Paul Clement in the week. Despite a lowly position; the subs bench showed the level of talent the Royals had at their disposal.

    Reading started on the attack and one wild shot over the bar came in from Gunter was well over but gradually United started to get on the ball and move it around. The ball over the top to Washington from Norwood was a feature early on. United won a free kick when Basham nipped in and was felled by Rinomhota but Norwood’s effort was a long way over the bar.

    United won a corner on 10 minutes and from the delivery Egan’s flicked header was touched in by the head of Washington but the striker was rightly judged offside. The initial header was looking as if it was going wide.

    Clever work got United out of their own defensive corner and into the middle of the field and Norwood then hit another delightful ball that put McGoldrick in on goal with just the keeper to beat. The striker tried a nonchalant lobbed flick but got it horribly wrong and it ran tamely into the keepers’ arms. It was the best chance of the game and another bad miss by the misfiring Irish forward.

    Slowly the early momentum for the visitors was lost and Reading started to get a foothold in the game. Sims had a good run checked by Egan and then Basham had to intercept. United were now having to defend and a few good breaks almost saw Reading get in.

    Fleck was given a yellow card for a silly pull down after he initially lost the ball. Reading were now having more of the ball and Loader won two free kicks. United were sitting off and the passing became sloppy. Reading won two corners in succession and were now the more offensive force although had create little of note.

    McCleary drifted inside two players and Stevens had to get a good block in before McNulty had a half opening but O’Connell was able to muscle his old teammate off the ball. United had not offered much since the opening but did have a chance when Baldock came onto the ball and hit a dangerous driven cross over and McGoldrick cleverly flicked it home with his back to goal but as with the first effort United had in the net; it was rightly judged offside although this one was closer.

    Reading were back on the ball and controlling possession again but they did not really get into the dangerous areas at all. Still, United were very sloppy when they had it and it seemed a really scrappy game that lacked quality as the half time whistle came.

    Duffy came on for Lundstram at the break and United were on the front foot and playing further up the field. McGoldrick got on the ball and drove at the defence and hit a firm shot but was straight at Jaakkola who palmed away.

    The two wing backs and overlapping centre backs saw more of the ball in the first 10 minutes of the second half than they had all the first half. Duffy was getting on the ball and making United tick and they now were penning Reading back. Washington headed wide under pressure after good work from McGoldrick after Reading failed to clear the clever free kick from Norwood.

    Fleck shot over from the middle of the goal as Reading now were not really an attacking force at all. Sharp came on for Washington as United looked for the man who could nick the all-important goal whilst Barrow and Baldock came on for Sims and McNulty for the hosts. United won a series of corner and got in a number of decent positions wide but the crossing too often let them down.

    Then two decent balls came in. Baldock’s delivery from the right after he had telegraphed two before it; led to a header for McGoldrick but his headed down was saved comfortably. It was difficult for the striker to generate power on the cross to be fair.

    One great delivery came in from Fleck. Sharp headed it and some behind the goal thought it had hit the net but went the wrong side of the post. It was a good chance and a header you would expect him to bury under no pressure and the keeper beaten.

    United won another corner that was cleared as the keeper struggled to deal with the high ball and then Stevens and both Basham both got down the wing but the ball did not drop to a yellow shirt. The game ticked into the final 10 minutes and it seemed like United could not make the 2nd half domination count when the goal did arrive.

    Duffy patiently waited for Basham to advance and played it down the wing for him to fire over a cross that deflected off a defender and up into the air. McGoldrick missed the header right in front of goal but SHARP was on the spot to turn in from merely a couple of yards. After having two ruled out; the Blades striker quickly turned to check there was no flag before sprinting off to celebrate with the 1,000+ Blades fans behind the goal. Replays showed it was certainly the right decision as the ball was played back and, in the end, came off a Reading player and also McGoldrick did not touch it.

    Most Blades would now wait for the inevitable nervy final moments as United’s inability to see games out has been a feature in recent seasons but we need not have worried. McGoldrick cleverly stepped over the ball to win the corner and as it came over BALDOCK (S) headed the ball into his own net. Some Reading players half hearted appealed for a foul but there was no offence as the closest players to the ball O’Connell and Basham celebrated the goal that sealed the three points.

    The final few minutes were played out comfortably and even three minutes of stoppage time saw United prevent Reading having any chances at all with O’Connell and Henderson taking knocks on a high ball the only scare of any note. The final whistle came not long after that and United were up from 7th to 6th to 3rd in the matter of 10 minutes!

  2. #2
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    Reading 0 United 2 - view from the sofa report

    United – We won a game and were not at our best! Finally. We kept a clean sheet. We did not have a dodgy final few minutes. We won on Sky and also scored from a corner. We also did not let the opponent as far as I can recall have a shot on target. Time for a beer…or two! First half we started the first 10 minutes well and had a few half chances and the goal disallowed but then they gradually came into it and then we looked very much like we did at Rotherham. We did not pressure the ball, sat off, they got more of the ball and only a complete lack of goal threat or confidence stopped them creating anything. We never really looked like conceding and even for that really poor half an hour up to half time; still had the better chances with another goal disallowed. I thought it had the feel of a reserve or benefit game and was so slow. Reading looked a poor side but gradually got a foot hold in the game.

    Second half we made a chance with Duffy on but it was not just about the chance (did help giving other players space) but we played higher up the field and won tackles and pressured them. We passed it much better; got the wing backs forward and generally got amongst them and started to pin them back. Most of the 2nd half was in their half. McGoldrick had two chances and then Sharp a really good one and we looked the only side likely to win. The most annoying thing was the poor final ball or the lack of creativity when we got in the final third with no one unlocking the key. I tweeted the crossing was appalling and so many times we pulled back soft crosses that were easily cleared or over hit them completely. Then Bash got a decent one in; deflected of course but in the right area and we finally score with Billy doing what he does best. The second was crucial though as after all the give aways this season even against an abject opponent; to score this so quick killed the game.

    We will have to play much better against the better teams and have some tough tests coming up; especially at the Lane. We need to start games better and individually and collectively we need to be much more consistent. I worry we are struggling to put series of games or even complete games (each half) together and that is why we have played 9; won 3, drew 3, lost 3. We could have had more points but the performances have bee a bit mixed really. Derby away was the same but the opposite way around. Forest was flat. Rotherham really poor. Stoke, Wednesday and Leeds we should have had 5 more points at least but today at least saw an average performance; although much improved 2nd half; yield the win.

    Overall, we definitely deserved the win as despite the above words; we had all the chances and save for that half hour spell, I felt controlled the game and second half it was all us. 2-0 was a fair reflection of the game. It was the sort of game; against a really bad side where you get in and in bad conditions, get the win and get out. We sit 3rd and are looking good as Wilder said. A few defeats and we are back down to 7th/8th so important we try and get a run of results together over the Xmas period. Will not be easy as we play 2 fellow challengers sandwiched between a banana skin against Ipswich but it’s about time, we won some big games at the Lane.


    Reading – Awful. The worst side we have played and that includes Wednesday. They had a fair bit of the ball first half and won some tackles and as much as I moaned about how poor we were – they were not much better. They did nothing with it and still conceded all the chances. Only the fact our players went too early stopped two offside goals and they saw a few chances from us go begging. They may have felt they were well in the game and maybe got over confident as second half we swarmed all over them and they never got in the game. They looked devoid of confidence and were kind of hanging on even if we were not creating tons of openings. They sat back but did not even offer a threat on the counter. They made two subs but this did not change things either. The late goal flattened them and then 1 became 2 and they just wanted to be off the pitch.

    I reckon cost of the squad and wages wise; they will have spent and have a much higher wage bill than us. You only have to look at the players not playing. Experienced players like Meyer, Obita, O’Shea, McShane, Moore, Edwards, Bodvarsson were not even in the squad (most injured) and all these are probably on more than most of our starting players I would assume. As Sky said; they should be much higher but have no confidence, concede goals and look toothless up front. They look a side that will not win many games. It does not help they play at a soulless stadium with no atmosphere and no real help for the team. They simply do not have a home advantage as it is so quiet and just the opposite of intimidating. Teams will go there and win quite a bit. This puts real pressure on them to get points away from home. I think they could really struggle and if they do not get the managerial appointment right, I would not be shocked if they went down. Ipswich look isolated but even teams like Hull and Bolton (and gulp Wednesday) have shown more fight than them in games I have seen.

    Opponent man of the match – McCleary did a few decent bits first half and Sims was lovely for a spell but the young lad Loader was easily their best player. He got on the ball and at least tried to attack us. Won a free kick and looked lively. Faded second half but he was the main threat. They have been struggling so I would not want to say who has played well and who has not but when I saw Barrow, Aluko (both fast) and Swift and Kelly on the bench; I was pleased. Those four are probably their best four players for me if I had to think of dangers and all have caused problems for us in the past.

    Weak link – Take your pick. The keeper was appalling and every time it went near him, he looked terrified. He was a big lad that looked scared of the high ball and never took a cross all game. He made one good save but most of our chances went wide. He made a few other odd mistakes when the ball came back to him on his feet. The lad Blackett also was quite erratic and made some mistakes – the back pass for instance! Gunter and Yiadom tried hard but were given no help from the midfield. I thought McNulty had no service but looked the player I remembered. Slow, weak and often the games would just pass him by. Nowhere near good enough for the Championship. The midfielder Bacuna has a lot of quality but just strolled around. His lack of effort second half was criminal.

  3. #3
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    Henderson 7/10 – Nothing to do all game really. He caught a few crosses under no pressure and fielded a few balls through. I am not sure they had a shot on goal all game. He was decent with his feet and did have quite a few back passes played to him too.

    Baldock 6/10 – Thought he was average. Defensively he was ok and no major ricks but not under much pressure and did ok on the lad Barrow when he came on but we had most of the ball at this stage. Going forward I through he got in some decent areas but his crossing was really poor. Always played crosses without pace – ironically the one he did play in that was a good one, McGoldrick was offside. Not sure he has quite got in his rhythm since coming back and looks a bit sluggish.

    Stevens 7/10 – Think he has been very consistent of late. All the talk about him compared the other wing back position and he has been the better of the 3 really (Freeman/Baldock) this season by some way. His crossing too was disappointing. He either does not get pace or overplays it. Defensively he was really good and made some good tackles and blocks. Really solid game from him.

    Egan 7.5/10 – Headed, cleared it and used it when head to. Not really under any pressure. Second half moved it forward a lot quicker and stepped out more. Been very consistent this season and most weeks gives the same kind of performance.

    O’Connell 7/10 – As above. Won tackles and blocks and was committed. His passing was ok saved for a spell when he just hoofed it a few times. He got in the box and put pressure on Sam Baldock on the second goal. Not really given a game from the attackers at all so it was quite easy for him.

    Basham 7.5/10 – Once again another very good performance. Stepped out of defence, used the ball with real composure (his ability to kill it with his chest is superb) and he sprang into attack when he could. Might be the first name on the team sheet at the moment. Had an excellent season.

    Fleck 6/10 – Really up and down and still nowhere near the heights he has been. First half he was sloppy and summed up when he gave it away and then wildly hacked his man down to get an unnecessary booking. He was ponderous on the ball and took way too many touches to execute passes. He did improve second half a bit and put over the cross for Sharp and the corner for the goal and at least got into the last third and made things happen but he needs to be much more consistent and needs to be at it from the start.

    Norwood 7.5/10 – Man of the Match and easily the most influential player on the field. He did give it away a few times and annoys me that at times he won’t carry it and always plays the pass when he has acres to run into but that is his game I suppose. He played a number of superb diagonal balls, set up McGoldrick for the chance and the main threat in terms of assists. His corners/free kicks were mixed again but one clever free kick 2nd half nearly led to a goal. He is a lovely footballer to watch though and some of his passing is sublime; you kind of live with the odd hairy moment (when he played it back 2nd half for instance!)

    Lundstram 5.5/10 – Did not really get in the game. At Brentford he did a job and shielded the defence well and just did bits and pieces. Today they had a lot of the ball and not sure he was involved at all. I barely recall him touching it. His mark may seem harsh but he did not really help us win it back and nor was influential when we had it. I do feel his performance was just symptomatic of how the whole team played. He was not much worse than others but the team that came out 2nd half improved.

    Washington 6/10 – Not sure he was that bad really. He gave us an outlet and not his fault as the Sky pundits alluded to that we went long and tried to get him to stretch the defence. He did hold it up a bit and of course had a goal disallowed for offside which was sloppy. He had another headed effort wide on the angle. I am not sure he did a lot wrong and was busy enough but we just did not do enough to get the ball in the right areas or with players around him to help him.

    McGoldrick 6/10 – Weird again. Some lovely play, bits of link up and flicks but he missed a huge chance when he tried an extravagant lob. If it comes off it is a superb goal (after a great move) but with the lack of goals and chances he has missed; he needs to try the higher percentage type finish. He missed a header and had a shot saved after a decent run. He was also fortunate he missed the header when Sharp scored. A few times he lost it in general play but he does a lot of good things. Just very frustrating that at the moment he is missing chances every game and big chances and that is why his mark is a touch lower as ultimately, he cannot keep missing big chances.

    Subs –

    Duffy 7/10 – Oddly not sure he was superb when he came on. First thing he did was give it away and was not that creative when he had it but got on the ball a lot and just allowed us to play higher up the field. He was part of the build up for the first goal and often involved in moving it left to right and vice versa. When he gets on it, we look more dangerous and players fear him and it created space for others like Sharp and Fleck.

    Sharp – Came on and held it up when he could but missed a really good headed chance. You felt him and McGoldrick had both missed big chances for 2 weeks running and feared they might score from a chance if they got one. It was a big moment when he showed his predatory instinct to turn home from 2 yards. As he says they are his favourite goals. He is so invaluable to us and will probably go on and score 20 goals you think this season. We do need another striker with Clarke’s form/fitness not there this year and McGoldrick’s wayward finishing but he will be the man counted on to get the goals you feel.

    --

    Wilder 7/10 – For maybe the first time this season we were not brilliant and won. We deserved to win of course and had all the chances but you sensed from his post match; he was not happy at half time. It had shades of Rotherham about it as we stood off, had little intensity and were sloppy with the ball. We still had the chances but he clearly gave them a rollicking at the break and we saw a much more committed and hungry side. We were at it and won all the loose stuff. We got on the front foot and looked the only side like scoring/winning. Sadly, a poor final ball/missed chances threatened to derail us again but we kept going and got the win. He knows we will have to be much better Friday against a side packed full of attacking threats. I expect Sharp and Duffy back and then he may rotate back to the starting team today at Ipswich as he manages legs and game time in this busy period. I was happy with the selection really. I think with the number of games coming up it was the right move and for all those that slam Wilder for his starting eleven; the lads that came on were fresh and made a difference and ultimately were involved in the crucial goal. They are also don’t have as much in the legs for Friday.

    Referee – Fine really. Thought he did book Fleck a bit early in the game and their lad was harshly booked; Loader for a nothing tackle. Washington committed 4 or 5 fouls and so did Norwood but escaped a card and Norwood did a few worse than either of those booked! Not sure there were many bad tackles and the ref let things flow. Credit to the assistants for getting all the big decisions right too. Not really anything in the game that the referee got badly wrong. The appeal for a penalty first half was pure desperation from the home fans.

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