Robbie earns the Reds a point..

Earnie's opening goal gets the Reds a point

Reading – 1
Nottingham Forest – 1

I quite often use fan reactions to validate my take on a game – and today’s was a great example of that.  The Reds finished to the customary appreciative applause from the 2,000 travelling Forest fans, whilst the home side had chuntering and boos from the home side.  It seems to me to validate – just as Billy said – that a point was the very least Forest deserved.

An outstanding performance from Federici in the Reading goal kept chances from Earnie and Anderson at bay in the first half, whilst the Reds dominated a characteristic lapse gave the hosts the opportunity to take the lead – which Alex Pearce duly took.  Unfortunately for Federici it was his mistake that gave the ball to Earnie for our equaliser, but well, it was no less than we deserved!

Billy was forced into a last minute change to his line-up owing to a hamstring injury to skipper Paul McKenna, so we ended up with something like this (it’s debateable as to whether Anderson was deployed more advanced, but this was my take):

Chambers    Morgan    Wilson    Bertrand
Cohen   Majewski    Moussi    Anderson
Blackstock    Earnshaw

Despite the last-minute change of line-up, the Reds started very positively by pressing forward and dominating possession.  This culminated in an excellent strike from Earnie on the edge of the area, which Federici managed to get a fingertip to in order to make an excellent save.  It was looking good for the Reds.

However, there’s always fears of ‘the lull’ – which looked on the cards when Reading took the lead against the run of play.  A Kebe cross caused bedlam in the Forest penalty area and Pearce was the man able to prod the ball home from close range.  A cruel suckerpunch, but a reminder that we need to cut out sloppiness at the back, just as we were reminded of against Leeds last week.

The Reds picked up where they had left off and continued to play decent progressive football – probably the talking point of the half came on 37 minutes when Dexter crossed from the left and was met with a tremendous header from Anderson (of all people!).  It looked to be a goal all the way but for a superb piece of goalkeeping by Federici.

Reading had a good opportunity through McAnuff who missed, and Camp needed to be smart to make a save from Williams just before the break – but ultimately I think few would argue that the Reds were desperately unlucky to be going in at the break behind (except for Brian McDermott apparently, who thinks Reading should’ve won the game).

It was the home side on the offensive after half time too – Lee Camp on hand to make a decent save from Brian Howard (who must hate him, he saved a penalty from him last season!).  Then fortune was to favour the Reds as Federici went from sublime to ridiculous – the ‘keeper went to clear the ball but it struck a teammate and fell to the lurking Earnie.

So on the 49th minute our diminutive striker was left with the simple task of firing into an open goal – he’d been desperately unlucky not to open his account against Burnley and Leeds having struck the post in both fixtures, so whilst perhaps not the spectacular goal he’d hope for, something he’s certainly earned over the course of the season so far!

The remainder of the game had an almost cup-tie feel to it, and whilst I highlighted McDermott’s comments above – he’s right that it could’ve gone either way with both sides creating chances.  Anderson struck over from the edge of the area, whilst Cohen appeared to be brought down by Karacan in the area – but the referee thought not.

Sigurdsson wasn’t very far away with a curling shot at the end, and Shane Long – who’s been out for a couple of weeks – will surely rue not even hitting the target from close range after a corner with Camp bearing down on him quickly.  Kelv needed to be on hand to put in a block on substitute Noel Hunt and finally Camp needed to save from Kebe at the death.

All in all, a point’s pretty decent – and the home fans are a bit harsh to be booing, as they had enough chances to nick it.  As ever, Forest need to be punishing sides with their earlier dominance – but there was plenty of promising signs from the mighty Reds.

The introduction of Lewis McGugan in a more advanced position for Majewski after an hour showed the midfielder might not be as out of favour as oft speculated, Tys brought endeavour but no end product when he replaced Blackstock on 75 minutes and when Dele was introduced at the death for Earnie, well, there’s a reason we’ve started calling him ‘the Towel’!

I’m pretty pleased though – obviously a win would always be more welcome, but Reading are a decent side and could easily have taken one of their other chances just as we perhaps should have too.  If we can snag a win in our next home game against Norwich then a draw away will look like a decent piece of business!