Reading's comeback win heaps more misery on a free-falling Newcastle
Reading’s second comeback win in as many weeks heaped more misery on Newcastle as the Magpies recorded their 11th loss in the last 13 games. The loss leaves Newcastle hanging just above the relegation zone while Reading’s victory boosted their chances of survival as they leapfrogged Wigan and now occupy 18th position on the table.
The game began on a bright note for the home team as the return of Yohan Cabaye at the heart of the midfield alongside fellow Frenchman Sylvain Marveaux gave the Newcastle offence some teeth; something they have been missing in recent times. With Vurnon Anita playing deeper than the two, the Frenchmen had ample time to play intricate passes around the offensive third as Reading got pegged back in their own half.
If not for the heroics of their goalkeeper Adam Federici, Newcastle would have been up three goals to the good within the first half an hour. Papiss Cissé was guilty of missing of two gilt-edged chances as he found only the goalkeeper to beat on two separate occasions but he managed to force saves out of Federici on both occasions. The misses would come back to haunt Newcastle.
Inspite of the early misses, the endeavours of Cabaye, Anita and Marveaux ensured that Newcastle remained on the front foot while Reading looked to hit on the counter. The home team were finally rewarded when Yohan Cabaye swung in a delightful free-kick into the left hand corner of the goal leaving Federici no chance. It all came about from a rampaging run from Sylvain Marveaux that ended in him being was brought down near the D of the penalty area, leaving Cabaye to do the rest with his magical right foot.
The second half started with both teams going at each other but neither team seemed to carve out a clear cut opportunity. The game changed at the 63rd minute when Alan Pardew replaced Sylvain Marveaux with James Perch as he decided to sit back on a 1 goal lead. The decision was unanimously booed by the home supporters as it looked like the decision of a man in fear of losing his job. With Marveaux out, Reading soon began get a grip in the midfield. Substitutions seemed to be the theme as within 60 seconds of coming on, Adam Le Fondre scored via a low cross-field cross from Jimy Kebe as Mike Williamson was made to look a fool and that certainly wasn’t the first time this season.
Yohan Cabaye’s groin problems meant that he had to make way for Gael Bigirimana in the 74th minute, much to the displeasure of the Toon Army. The mood was even made worse as Le Fondre found space inside the penalty box to neatly tuck away his and Reading’s second in the 77th minute after good work from new signing Hope Akpan. The score stayed the same even after frantic attempts from the home side to carve out an equaliser.
The result means that Reading move within two points of Newcastle with their first away win of the campaign, leaving Newcastle as the only team in the division without an away victory this season. Newcastle may have had the excuse of not having their best players playing for most of the campaign and could say the same for this match as Ben Arfa and Tiote remain out; but this was a game they had in their grasp until Pardew’s tactical blunders left the Magpies hanging.
The only thing that seemed murkier than the blizzard-hit Newcastle skyline was Pardew’s thought process while Brian McDermott was made to look like a genius by bringing Le Fondre at the right time. The game leaves Newcastle fans fearing of a second relegation in five seasons and giving them chills much more frightening than the frosty conditions in the North-East.