Reading’s early season form may have lulled you into a false sense of expectancy but Latics have hardly been sparkling over recent weeks and were looking for a result here to get their season back on track. In realistic terms this was another game against a team who will be one of our rivals at the business end of the season and a win now would have gone a long way to putting us ahead of them come May.
Form aside, you don’t have to remember Pat Gavin to know that the Madjeski hasn’t been the happiest hunting ground for Latics, and right from the off you got the feeling that things weren’t about to change. For the second game on the trot, Chris Hutchings’ side had that patched up look and lacked the gumption in midfield to make the most of an attack missing the side’s talisman.
For the first half hour or so, the best, and most, of the play belonged to Reading. By the time they eventually scored, Doyle pouncing on a rebounded Kitson shot that could have been dealt with a whole lot better, Steve Coppull’s men should have had the game in the bag and you feared that the goal could open Latics up for further punishment.
Instead it spurred the away team on and almost immediately Koumas found himself inches from winning a penalty, and even closer to scoring from the free kick he got instead. The next spell of the game saw Latics forcing themselves back into the reckoning as they started to get Koumas into the game more.
Latics’ good spell continued after the break and within five minutes of the restart were level. Bent emphatically heading home Koumas’ corner. Yes, that’s right, Latics scored from a set-piece, and yes, it came from the player that hardly anyone is expecting hardly anything from. It’s not exactly time to get excited, but this has been a real area of weakness for Latics since getting promoted and this is at least a good sign.
The game from that point became pretty even, although the home team arguably had the better of the chances. As time pressed on, Reading applied more pressure but allowed Latics plenty of chance to break. This ultimately presented the two opportunities that should have seen them take away the three points.
Firstly Bent stole a couple of yards on the seemingly flat footed Reading defence, only to see a last ditch challenge by Michael Duberry prevent him from getting into a one on one with the keeper. Shortly after that, Aghahowa did manage to beat the last man. As the striker knocked the ball past Hanneman he seemed to get clipped by a swinging boot. The referee may have congratulated Julius for staying on his feet, but didn’t see fit to award a free kick that would have seen the Reading goalie walk.
Honesty pays? Not in football.
His take on it was that there was no contact, but if he saw that then he’s a better man than Chris Kamara (surely not!) and has better eyes than all the Sky cameras in the ground. Reading will feel that they got away with something there and Latics have every right to feel aggrieved.
As we know, football is no longer a game of 90 minutes, but one of 93, 94 or however long Fergie wants the ref to carry on for, the Latics defence obvious didn’t get that memo and as the clock ticked to the final whistle they switched off.
The jury is still out on just how they managed to concede from a fairly innocuous throw in, but they did and although the goal was well worked, Kitson and Harper could have driven a herd of elephants through the gap in Latics 18 yard box.
Overall, the performance was better than the Fulham one, but still not good enough. Without Landzaat and Valencia in midfield the team looks flat and they are struggling to get Koumas into the game.
In itself the result isn’t the end of the world, but as Latics embark on a run of seven games featuring the ‘top five’ we could have done with the points. As things stand Latics are just holding on to a mid table position a win would have left us more hopeful of still being there when we get to November.
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