ROYALS’ WIN NOT YANN FOR PURISTS
GIVEN the shocking lack of quality of the attacking play from both sides for the first 41 minutes at the Madejski Stadium, it would have taken a brave man to forecast a final scoreline that contained three goals.
Yet as Reading, having bounced back from three defeats with a win against Fulham in midweek, grabbed all three points to climb up to third. All three of the goals were talking points.
Up to the point they took the lead the Royals, despite their customary dominance on the possession front, had barely created a chance and could have fallen behind in the 22nd minute when a snapshot from Cardiff ’s Joe Ralls struck a post.
Reading always rely heavily on an efficient work ethic rather than vibrant exciting football but their opener was the result of one brief moment of inventive skill.
After Allan McGregor in the visitors’ goal had dived to parry a shot from Danny Williams, Reading’s Garath McCleary used a clever backheel to put the rebound into the path of John Swift, who calmly sidefooted home from eight yards out.
Yet before referee Tony Harrington had blown the half-time whistle Cardiff were back on level terms after he awarded a penalty for an offence that was anything but clearcut. As a loose ball floated into the Reading area defender Liam Moore, with his back initially to the goal, turned with a raised a boot to clear it.
At the time he would have been unaware that behind his back, Cardiff ’s Sean Morrison was stooping to try to put a header on target. Moore’s boot caught him flush in the face and ugly though the incident looked, Moore had not intended to cause harm and that Harrington only booked him suggested he had not seen any evil intent.
And the fact that home keeper Ali Al-Habsi did well to get his fingertips to Ralls’ low spot-kick but could not prevent it sneaking home close to his left post would have only added to Reading’s disappointment over the incident.
Their 59th-minute winner also came from a set-piece after Yann Kermorgant was fouled two yards outside the Cardiff box. Faced with a direct free-kick Cardiff built a carefully positioned wall but it also contained three Reading players, and they created a gap through which the Frenchman was able to direct the match winner.
Reading manager Jaap Stam felt his side could have escaped conceding a goal to a spot-kick.
“I was not happy with the penalty,” he said. “I haven’t seen the replay or talked to Liam Moore but these days if players go down in the area penalties are easily given.”
But the Dutchman was delighted that Reading had overcome Cardiff ’s spirited defence, saying: “They made it difficult for us and defended well. I am happy with every win we get with the position we are in. We have got lots of teams close around us but we get momentum by winning games.”
Cardiff only had 36 per cent of the possession but did have 17 shots on goal compared to Reading’s eight and that left manager Neil Warnock disappointed with the result.
“It was the same against Brighton in midweek,” he said.
“There we also played well and lost.
“It’s frustrating but hopefully in the next couple weeks we might play rubbish and win a couple of games. I don’t think we are far away from being a good side.”
OFF THE MARK: John Swift celebrates scoring Reading’s first goal with Yann Kermorgant