I'm trying to be positive, I really am. But really, this has been coming hasn't it? Reading have been charging since their 3-0 thumping of us at the Madjeski, and we have been stuttering. First thirty minutes, there only looked to be one winner to be fair, and it wasn't Reading. But the SAMe old problem persists, plenty of possession but little or no guile. But with our midfield, is that any surprise?
So 1-0 after 9 minutes, giving Allardyce the early goal he had demanded and after that, little or no indication of a second, apart from a break away. How busy was Federici? Well idle to be honest. He made a great save to keep out Nolan's header but Cole scored from the rebound so that save doesn't count does it?
The vendetta being conducted against Kebe was stupid, giving Reading free kick after free kick and bringing them back into the game. Noble lost the ball that led to the corner from which Reading scored, and his critics will sadly be gleeful about that, but you should be able to defend a set piece, as Allardyce will tell you, and we didn't. But then with Harte taking them, you are always likely to ship a goal sooner or later. There's one other thing you don't do when Harte is on the field, concede a penalty; so we, of course, obliged there too.
The second Reading goal was an accident waiting to happen, that accident being Faubert. The guy isn't a full back. He's barely a winger to be honest but he most definitely isn't a full back! Play him at the back and it will cost you. Reading nearly scored when he failed to deal with one cross, Tomkins clearing off the line, and didn't shun a second opportunity presented by the dozy frog.
Now we come to half time and the substitution. So, you are 2-1 down and need to win the game and Noble can't come out for the second half. You have Lansbury on the bench. You have Maynard on the bench. You have Baldock on the bench. So what do you do? You send on Collins obviously! OK, strange, but if the idea is to move Faubert forward and Vaz Te inside, fair enough, an interesting tactical switch. But no. That's not Allardyce's plan. Far too progressive. Far too positive. Far too imaginative. No, we have shipped two goals so let's anchor the midfield properly, let's send Tomkins into midfield! Inspired! Truly, truly, truly inspired! Did anybody see that one coming?
And there you have the Allardyce mentality in a nutshell. there is why this man should not be managing our club. Look at his resources compared with those of McDermott. Why is the Reading man able to inspite his team to play without fear whilst our lot look as if they are perched on the edge of Tower Bridge wearing concrete boots as soon as anything starts to go against them.
Tell me, how was a midfield of O'Neil, Nolan, Tomkins, Taylor and Vaz Te going to create chances for Cole parked up top on his own? I bet McDermott couldn't believe his luck when he saw the substitution! Did it work, of course it didn't. Reading scored their third - and there can be no argument over the penalty stupidly conceded by Faye (with Foy ruling out a goal to award the spot kick!) - so Allardyce made another inspired decision, taking off Taylor and sending on Baldock. Brilliant, 4-4-2! But hang on, who was left in midfield? O'Neil, Tomkins, Nolan and Vaz Te! Tell me, how was that collection of misfits going to work? Who, exactly, was going to dictate the play from the middle of the park? Where was the creativity exactly? Two up top but nobody to get the ball up to them! Brilliant management, truly brilliant!
There was, of course, time for another switch, with Allardyce bringing on Maynard for Cole, only for the former Bristol City man to miss a sitter from inside the six yard box with the best chance enjoyed by either side in the whole game.
Vaz Te scored with a good header from an O'Neil corner; and a set piece was the only way we were going to score with that midfield wasn't it? The Reading fourth goal looked offside to me but so what? I can't see us catching them now so goal difference is unlikely to be a factor.
All week I've had a feeling in my water; sadly it's turned out to be a bladder infection. We can still get up via the playoffs but recent performances don't inspire do they? Sadly Peterborough won't feature!
Player ratings: Green 6; Faubert 1, Faye 5, Tomkins 5, McCartney 5, Vaz Te 5, Noble 5, O'Neil 4, Nolan 4, Taylor 5, Cole 6 Subs Baldock 1, Maynard 1, Collins 4
Manager rating: McDermott 10 Allardyce 0!