Brendan Rodgers reign as Reading manager began with a goal less draw against Nottingham Forest in a game that saw the visitors defender James Chambers sent off for an off the ball incident.
His first job of the afternoon was to select who would lead the line in his favoured 4-3-3 formation and it was a surprise to see Simon Church given the nod as the furthest forward ahead of Shane Long. He also handed full debuts to youngsters Scott Davies and Hal Robson Kanu, as well as on loan Chelsea left back Ryan Bertrand. Injuries kept out the Hunt brothers, Marek Matejovsky but James Harper was fit enough for the bench that also included Gylfi Siggurdsson.
Forest included new signings Lee Camp, Chris Gunter, Paul McKenna and David McGoldrick but Nathan Tyson was only on the bench alongside another of their new boys Dexter Blackstock.
Unlike last season’s reverse fixture on the opening day of the season, this was quite an entertaining goal less draw and offered some encouraging signs for Rodgers team. We began the game well and Hal Robson Kanu looked dangerous on the ball and linked well with Scott Davies to create a half chance for Simon Church after just three minutes.
At the other end it took Adam Federici 15 minutes to get a meaningful touch of the ball but he did well to stay alert to keep our David McGoldrick’s low drive. Not long after Simon Church almost gifted Forest the opener when he controlled the ball well just inside his own half but passed the ball straight to Radoslaw Majewski who shot inches wide of the far post, a real let of for the Royals.
Robson Kanu continued to worry the visitors defence whenever he got the ball and he was fouled by James Chambers. The free kick resulted in Jimmy Kebe crossing deep for Alex Pearce to head goalwards but it didn’t prove much trouble for Lee Camp.
The closest we came to scoring in the first period came when Jem Karacan tapped a short free kick to Scott Davies to progress forward and unleash a low drive that went just wide. Davies was involved again before the break, running from midfield to cross but Simon Church couldn’t get himself in the right place to get on the end of it.
Both sides hit the side netting early in the second half, firstly Hal Robson Kanu crossed to the far post but Jimmy Kebe couldn’t get his shot away cleanly. At the other end Joe Garner hit an effort from a tight angle into the wrong side of the net.
Billy Davies made the first tactical change when he brought on Robert Earnshaw and it wasn’t long before Shane Long was introduced, surprisingly for Hal Robson Kanu, but not before the tricky winger had made an opening for Scott Davies to fire a seemingly unstoppable effort from about 12 yards but Lee Camp got down to save it.
Scott Davies continued to impress and his cross shot should have been converted by Jimmy Kebe who had an open goal to aim at but got his feet tangled as the ball came to him at pace and he bundled it wide.
The game was opening up and the Royals were dominating and as we approached the last 10 minutes Ryan Bertrand, who had a good game at left back, went on a run forward beating three men before being hacked down 20 yards from goal. Scott Davies lined up the free kick hoping to repeat his goal against Chelsea last weekend but his curling effort went wide.
That was certainly not the end of the action though, Rob Earnshaw’s deft effort forced Adam Federici into a fine save. Jem Karacan almost broke the deadlock at the other end when he unleashed an effort from 20 yards out but it went just wide before the games major talking point.
James Chambers clashed with Shane Long off the ball, not that many in the ground saw it apart from the eagled eyed linesman who informed the ref and Chambers was off much to the surprise of the 19,640 strong crowd!
Despite five minutes of injury time there wasn’t to be the goal the Royals deserved but we can take great heart from our performance despite lacking a killer instinct infront of goal. We passed the ball extremely well, despite doing a bit to much of it in our own half, and the young players in the side were comfortable at this level and would have left Rodgers delighted. In fact the oldest player in the team today was Jimmy Kebe at just 25!
This will certainly be a different season to what we have experienced under Steve Coppell, the tactics are almost the opposite, but on this evidence we will be competitive this season.
Adam Federici 7
A spectator for long periods but handled the ball well, distributed it just as Rodgers would want and made an excellent save to deny Earnshaw in the closing stages of the game.
Liam Rosenior 6
Defensive duties were limited but he got forward down the wing well at times but passing was wayward at times.
Ryan Bertrand 7
Excellent debut from the on loan Chelsea man, defended well and got forward to support the attack.
Kalifa Cisse 7
Solid at the back and passed well, everything you need in a stand in centre back.
Alex Pearce 7
Took the armband in Ingimarsson’s absence and lead by example from the back and won nearly everything in the air against Dele Adebola.
Jem Karacan 8
Sitting in the holding role in midfield, aka Makelele, and put in a brilliant performance. Full of energy and passed the ball like a seasoned pro.
Scott Davies 8
Continued impressive pre season form and was the best player on the park, making forward runs not seen since Steve Sidwell left. Unlucky not to score at least once.
Jay Tabb 7
One of the old guard! Effective in midfield, box to box and tackled well.
Hal Robson Kanu 7
Looked dangerous every time he got on the ball and was unlucky to be taken off.
Jimmy Kebe 6
Always willing to run at players but second half miss cost us three points.
Simon Church 6
Not given enough support when upfront but improved when moved wide right.
Shane Long 6 (For Hal Robson Kanu 65 mins)
Got in behind the Forest defence with his pace and caused problems. Unlucky to be left out of the starting line up.