Date: 9th February 2014 at 2:45pm
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Reading defender Alex Pearce saw red early on, as the Royals were well-beaten 2-0 at home by in-form Sheffield Wednesday.

Nigel Adkins named a sixth consecutive unchanged team and would have wanted his side to continue their fantastic home goal scoring form. Le Fondre recently won the January Player of the Month award and considering his form, you would have expected him to take his early chance, as he went through on goal after Llera misjudged the flight of the ball, but couldn`t outsmart Kirkland.

Alfie`s strike partner then had a good chance of his own, as Pogrebnyak raced through but was forced wide by Kirkland and the defender managed to take it off the Russian`s toe. Reading would regret missing these chances, as the games turning point came in the ninth minute, as Royals defender Alex Pearce saw red from referee Keith Hill, after fouling Maghoma in the penalty area.

It looked soft with contact minimal, but Pearce got the wrong side of him and denied a goalscoring opportunity, giving the referee no choice but to send him off. Chris Maguire stepped up to take the spot kick and converted it, as Reading were now facing the prospect of playing 80 minutes of the game with just ten men and a goal down to an inform Sheffield Wednesday side.

This made it a very open game, with Adkins opting to leave Alfie and Pog up front and using McCleary and Obita as wing backs. Akpan`s dinked cross to the back post went unattacked after some good play from McCleary, but this attacking intent would leave space in behind, which the away side almost exploited, but Gunter did well to block Maguire`s goalbound effort.

Reading thought they equalised soon after, as Alfie`s great cross was kept alive by Pogrebnyak, whose header teed up Jobi McAnuff on the edge of the area, but his volley was just inches away from goal. Former Royals loanee Benik Afobe then skimmed the bar with a effort from the edge of the area, before McCarthy made a good save to deny Maguire a second goal just before half time.

Nigel Adkins made no changes at half time unlike his counterpart Stuart Gray, who brought on Michail Antonio in an effort to seal the game for his side. The former Royals winger had a great chance to get the second for the Owls, as Maghoma squared for Antonio, but McCarthy made a great save to deny his weak effort. Reading seemed to have lost their edge they had in the first half.

Wednesday did score a second though and Alex McCarthy won`t want to see this one again. The lively Maguire had an effort at goal, which should have been routine for the young keeper, but he spilled it out for Benik Afobe to latch onto and tap home. Two goals down with thirty minutes to go – we have seen some famous comebacks at the Madejski, but this one wasn`t likely.

Reading looked out of ideas, as former Man City winger Helan struck the post with a firm effort, as Wednesday weren`t content to sit on their two-goal advantage. We were going very direct, which the likes of Llera and Semedo were dealing very comfortably with, so the chances were minimal for Adkins` side. Substitute Nuhiu should have added a third as he raced through on goal, but shot wide.

The hosts were starting to tire, but came their closest after a Guthrie lofted cross caused a goalmouth scramble, but Kirkland came on top in the end. McCarthy had to be on hand to deny Nuhiu in injury time, but it was Wednesday who came out with the points and deservedly so, as Reading could not get any rhythm going in the second half, unlike the first period.

I don`t think it`s worth panicking about this one result – we had a man sent off and despite the fact we were poor, I`m sure it would have been a different game if we had eleven men on the pitch and Alfie took his early chance. The players didn`t lack in effort also, which was good to see, but we now need to focus on a tough game against QPR at Loftus Road next Sunday.

Reading – 4-4-2: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Obita, McCleary, Akpan, Williams, McAnuff (c), Pogrebnyak, Le Fondre
Subs: Federici, Hector, Kelly, J.Taylor, Guthrie, Robson-Kanu, Blackman

Sheffield Wednesday – 4-4-2: Kirkland (c), Palmer, Llera, Semedo, Mattock, Helan, Lee, McCabe, Maghoma, Maguire, Afobe
Subs: Martinez, McPhail, Corry, Floro, Antonio, Lavery, Nuhiu


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