Date: 4th December 2013 at 3:12pm
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Reading were far from their best, but managed to take all three points against Charlton at the Madejski Stadium in a 1-0 victory last night.

Nigel Adkins once again made changes to his side from the one that beat Forest on Friday, as Billy Sharp came in for his first Royals start at the expense of Robson-Kanu, while Shaun Cummings made his first league appearance in over three months for the suspended Chris Gunter. There was also a rare start for skipper Jobi McAnuff, replacing Jordan Obita in the starting XI for this game.

It was a slow start to the game by both sides, but Reading were arguably shading it in terms of the possession. The first real action of the game was a penalty call turned down by the referee, as former Royals striker Simon Church was impeded in the box by Stephen Kelly, but Darren Sheldrake saw nothing worthy of a spotkick, much to the Irishman`s relief.

Reading did take an early lead in this game though soon after, as superb midfield work from Danny Williams to win the ball back and play the ball into the path of Billy Sharp on the edge of the box, to fire home an opener with a fine low strike on his debut. The tails were up and Pogrebnyak tried an ambitious long-range effort, which Alnwick probably made look a lot better than it was.

The big Russian forward was looking like a different player than the one we saw last season and almost got his name on the scoresheet, as Kelly`s looping header was controlled by the Pog, but the keeper luckily played it against his feet for a goal kick. The game slowed down after a decent start, but the visitors were slowly growing into the game with some good possession, without threating the goal.

Charlton`s good possession in the midfield did finally conjure up a chance though, as a through ball was latched on by Simon Church, but despite being one-on-one with McCarthy, the keeper came out on top, saving with his feet. Reading went in ahead at the break, but were not exactly looking the outstandingly better side against the Addicks, who were sitting just above the relegation zone.

Reading would need to step up the pace and the tempo of their play if they were going to put away the visitors, who were always going to be in the game at 1-0. We almost had the perfect start, as Garath McCleary almost repeated his QPR heroics, firing an effort from 25-yards, but this time came off the outside of the post and away – that goal could have sealed the points.

The away side were getting themselves into decent positions, but their shooting in front of goal ultimately cost them. Billy Sharp was looking full of confidence and after showing some good feet on the right side of the penalty area, he crossed for Pogrebnyak, but his goalbound header was blocked by an Addicks defender. Sharp was looking sharp, to pardon the pun – I had to get that in!

Addicks boss Chris Powell made a brave move and made all three substitutions at once and introduced the rather pacey Marvin Sordell, who would have fancied his luck against the likes of Pearce and Gorkss. These changes would bring about a sudden surge in Charlton pressure with twenty minutes to go, as the hosts were looking for an equaliser.

Reading couldn`t get the possession of the ball, but did have the odd opportunity on the break. Substitute Hal Robson-Kanu had a powerful effort from the edge of the box, but was central for Alnwick to deal with. Charlton were pressing and thought they had an equaliser, as Sordell deflected in an effort, but the linesman`s flag was raised, much to the Royals` relief.

Adkins` men were absorbing heavy pressure from the visitors, who despite their good build-up play, couldn`t test McCarthy. Jobi McAnuff found some space on the left-side after a good break from Reading, but wasted his half chance and fired his effort hopelessly over the bar. Reading did see the game out for the three points, but in unconvincing fashion it must be said.

I can understand fans` frustration despite the three points, but considering the amount of injuries and therefore inconsistency we have had and yet to be in fourth place, we should have no reason to be unhappy. We were too narrow at times, not exploiting McCleary and McAnuff`s strengths, but defensively we were very good, with Cummings` performance one deserving credit.

Reading – 4-4-2: McCarthy, Kelly, Pearce, Gorkss, Cummings, McCleary, Guthrie, Williams, McAnuff, Sharp, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Federici, Akpan, Drenthe, Obita, Robson-Kanu, Blackman, Le Fondre

Charlton – 4-4-2: Alnwick, Wilson, Morrison, Dervite, Wiggins, Stewart, Stephens, Cousins, Evina, Kermorgant, Church
Subs: Pope, Hughes, Pritchard, Wood, Jackson, Green, Sordell