Normal service resumed with City today as in-form Reading became the latest to profit from another poor performance away from home.
Following Tuesday’s surprise win at Crystal Palace, Johnson resisted temptation to change a winning team for today’s trip along the M4 and named the same XI, not that it made a jot of difference as the Berkshire outfit tore through us like a hot knife through butter at times.
City started brightly with Jamal Campbell-Ryce breaking at speed down the wing before pulling it back for Liam Fontaine to completely miss his kick in the third minute.
Reading responded on 10 minutes through striker Gylfi Sigurdsson, whose 25-yard free-kick was inches off target, and showed glimpses of what was to come.
The Royals pressure continued and it didn’t take long before it paid off.
Attacking left-back Ryan Bertrand stormed down the left before finding Jobi McAnuff in acres of space on the edge of the box. The Jamaican winger was allowed the time and space to pick out an unmarked Sigurdsson, who beat Gerken with ease on 12.
Another good chance was presented to the Icelandic forward moments later but he could only guide Jimmy Kebe’s right-wing centre straight at Gerken.
Sigurdsson was at the heart of everything Reading did, playing in behind Irish striker Shane Long and it wasn’t long (excuse the pun) before he doubled the home side’s advantage.
An innocuous looking tackle from Paul Hartley just inside the City box saw the Icelander fall to the floor like a sack of spuds, allowing referee Paul Taylor to gave a very soft penalty.
Sigurdsson dusted himself down to confidently fire the spot-kick past Gerken for 2-0 inside the first 25 minutes.
Sniffing a first-half hat-trick, City had Hartley to thank as Sigurdsson’s volley bounced over Gerken from a Brian Howard corner only for the Jock to head off the line.
Campbell-Ryce tested former City loanee Adam Federici in the Reading goal with a 30-yard shot that was parried wide for a corner, but that was about all City had to show going forward in another woeful first-half showing.
Sigurdsson then squandered another chance for his hat-trick after being picked out by Bertrand, but Gerken smoothered his poked effort.
Royals centre-back Matt Mills then headed over the top from a Howard free-kick as Reading must have wondered how on earth they weren’t home and dry by the break.
Johnson mixed it up for the start of the second period, off trotted Nicky Maynard and Chris Iwelumo who were replaced by John Akinde and Danny Haynes but the home side continued to press.
Campbell-Ryce gave City a bit of respite when he wriggled away from his marker on the counter attack to run clean through on goal, only to find Federici in good form.
Shane Long then somehow contrived to miss an open goal after Gerken pulled off a smart diving save from a Howard long-ranger, but the Irishman lacked control and blazed the rebound over the top.
Long spurned another chance as Bertrand’s left-wing centre was completely mis-kicked when unmarked 8 yards out whilst all City could muster was a tame effort from captain Louis Carey, who curled straight at Federici from distance.
READING (4-4-1-1): Federici, Gunnarsson, Mills, Ingimarsson, Bertrand, Kebe, Tabb, Howard, McAnuff, Sigurdsson, Long (Church ’88).
CITY (4-3-3): Gerken, Orr, Carey, Nyatanga, Fontaine (McAllister ’72), Skuse, Johnson, Hartley, Maynard (Haynes ’46), Campbell-Ryce, Iwelumo (Akinde ’46).
REFEREE: Paul Taylor (Enfield)
Dean Gerken 7
Made some excellent saves and stood no chance with any of the goals. Was badly let down by those in front of him again though.
Bradley Orr 4
Very, very poor.
Liam Fontiane 5
Tried to get forward but had his hands full with the pace of Kebe. More proof that he is not, and will never be, a left-back.
Lewin Nyatanga 4
Far too casual in defence. Allowed every ball to bounce instead of heading it away from danger.
Louis Carey 5
Lacked leadership and his usual influence on the team.
Cole Skuse 6
One of the only players who played for the shirt today. Willing runner and tried to break up play.
Lee Johnson 4
A passenger in the midfield for long periods.
Paul Hartley 5
Not up to his usual standards.
Jamal Campbell-Ryce 7
Chris Iwelumo 5
Won his headers but was often isolated on his own up front. Had nobody picking up the second ball. Subbed at the break.
Nicky Maynard 5
Once more, struggled to make an impact playing out of position on the left flank and was consequently subbed at half-time. Needs to play in the centre for God’s sake!
John Akinde 6
Put himself about for the cause. Ran and harried the defence and tried 100%.
Danny Haynes 5
Why he was brought on with 15 minutes to go when we had Clarkson on the bench and were losing 2-0, I do not know.
GARY JOHNSON – 3/10
Today was yet another occasion were the cockney looked totally baffled and clueless, in equal measure. Our top scorer was again asked to play wide left when all his goals have come as a central striker. No wonder his confidence looks shot.
He had no idea how to deal with the threat of Sigurdsson in the hole behind Long, despite the warnings being there from the opening stages.
We go 2-0 down inside 25 minutes, so he decides to take off two strikers (for tactical reasons) and go with 1 up front for the entire second half! JOKE!
BRIAN McDERMOTT – 8/10
This was the second time McDermott’s impressed me this season. His side should’ve thrashed us at the Gate earlier on this season in what was his first game in charge and they should’ve thumped us today such was their superiority. Tactically astute.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Tuesday’s win at Palace should hopefully have secured our Championship status for this season but the same problems remain.
The manager is bereft of any ideas asides from bringing more strikers onto the field in hope of a goal and today was no different.
The first-half was as shambolic as ever and Reading could’ve had 5 or 6 on reflection, despite taking their foot off the gas in the second-half.
Performance Lets Fans Down… Again
I hope the players and management realise just how cheesed off we all are with this tonight. We don’t expect to win every game, just compete. Stand up and being counted. Play for the red shirt with pride.
The lads got tremendous support from Bristol today, to the tune of around 2,000, and they put in another pathetic performance like that.
Will we get an apology? An admission of responsibility from the manager? Even a wave of acknowledgement from the manager at the end? Will we hell!