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19:26 8th August 2009

Report: Dominant display not quite enoug

Reading 0
Nottm Forest 0

Despite a dominant performance, Reading were held 0-0 at home to Nottingham Forest on this first day of the Brendan Rodgers era and the new Championship campaign.

Reading had plenty of chances to make all three points theirs, and a goal would have put the seal on an encouraging display from Brendan's young team.

We just lacked a clinical edge, and Jimmy Kebe and Scott Davies will point to chances that went begging in the second half; allowing Forest to snatch a draw.

From the off Forest looked happy with a point, and when their defender James Chambers was sent off for an apparent elbow on Shane Long with three minutes to go it only pushed them further back into their own half as the grandstand finish loomed large.

By that point the home crowd had become increasingly frustrated with Billy Davies' side's apparent willingness to delay every set piece and throw in to walking pace, allied with the officials' reluctance to take any action. But it would be unfair to focus too much on outside factors because we played well and should have won.

With a young team containing five Academy products in the starting XI, we looked comfortable in possession and just looking for a little more penetration at times.

Forest's only real moment in front of goal forced Adam Federici into a stunning stop from Robert Earnshaw, but otherwise our defence was solid and kept Forest at bay.

So a large crowd of more than 19,600 went home a tad disappointed not to have taken all three points, but with a positive outlook for the season ahead.

Reading (4-3-3): Federici; Rosenior, Bertrand, Cisse, Pearce (c); Karacan, Davies, Tabb; Robson-Kanu (Long 64), Kebe, Church
Subs: Hamer, Armstrong, Gunnarsson, Harper, Sigurdsson, Henry
Booked: Karacan (foul 67)

Forest (4-4-2): Camp; Chambers, Gunter, Morgan, Lynch; McKenna, Cohen (Tyson 73), Majewski, Garner (McCleary 78); Adebola, McGoldrick (Earnshaw 61)
Subs: Smith, Anderson, McGugan, Blackstock
Booked: Chambers (foul 25), Majewski (foul 52)
Sent off: Chambers (violent conduct 87)

Ref : P Crossley

Attendance: 19,640

First half
Reading started with a 4-3-3, Alex Pearce captaining the side and one of five Academy players in the XI. Pearce joined Kalifa Cisse at centre back, then Jem Karacan sat ahead of them in what the manager called the Makalele role. Scott Davies and Jay Tabb were the other two midfielders, supporting frontman Simon Church and wide forwards Hal Robson-Kanu and Jimmy Kebe.

Two Academy players combined early on to create a half-chance, Church's good movement allowing him to race onto Davies' pass, but his cutback was behind everybody.

Forest newboy David McGoldrick had scored against Reading last season in a Southampton shirt, and he was looking to get on the mark early but Adam Federici saved well as he shot from distance. Then Radoslaw Majewski then looked to give the headline writers a dream with a Majewski / Madejski goal, but put his effort wide after getting onto Church's loose pass.

The visitors had seen a couple of very late challenges go unpunished, but James Chambers finally saw yellow on 20 minutes for a robust tackle out wide. As a result we worked a neat set piece to Kebe, and Pearce got in a volley but it was easily easily enough.

After scoring against Chelsea last week, Davies clearly has the ability to become a fans' favourite because he catches the eye with energy and drive from midfield. With 23 minutes gone he showed all of his pace to burst clear down the right, but was just unable to find the final product to match.

McGoldrick was then wide for the visitors, and not too long afterwards Davies was very close to scoring with a 25-yarder that fizzed a yard past the post.

The game was opening up, and Church saw a header saved, then Robson-Kanu nearly saw his cross float into the goal at the back post.

Just before the break there was still time for some Kebe magic and a blocked shot, then Robson-Kanu put a cross just too close to goalkeeper Lee Camp as we ended the half strongly and looking for that breakthrough.

Second half
The first chance of the second half was a good one, and Kebe could have done better with a volley on the turn after good play from Robson-Kanu. Almost immediately Joe Garner shot into the side netting down the other end.

The Royals were raising the tempo, and beginning to get on top with Kebe at the heart of their best play.

Davies' style has drawn comparisons with Steve Sidwell, but it was another midfielder named Steve that our youngster was trying to emulate on 64, seeing a Gerrard-style drive go very close to goal. Had it gone in, it would have broken the net as the 20-yard strike was so clean and crisp.

Two minutes later another Davies piledriver almost resulted in a goal, but it fizzed right into Kebe six yards out. Had the Malian got it on target it would surely have been a goal, but the pace of the ball in was so fierce he could only divert wide; a great opportunity gone.

Ryan Bertrand went on a scintillating run with 14 minutes to go, going at least 35 yards in possession before being brought to the ground by a defender just outside the box. Davies always looked favourite to take the free kick, and his effort curled only a couple of feet wide.

Dele Adebola had earlier headed over from a rare Forest attack, and then Adam Federici made a quite amazing save from sub Robert Earnshaw. It was a one-handed reflex stop of the very highest order as the Welsh striker stabbed goalwards from eight yards.

With seven minutes to go Reading had their best chance of the game. Sub Shane Long, who looked lively, did well down the right and his cross fell loose to Davies. As the ball ran loose, it was clear Davies was going to leather it goalwards and the crowd stood in anticipation. The strike was superb, but he simply got too much on it and it flew over when perhaps a sidefoot would have been enough.

Long then showed strength and pace to get half a chance, but he put a tough opportunity over the bar.

We were the only team looking to win at this stage, but a straight red for Chambers, seemingly for an off-the-ball elbow on Long, actually made it harder because Forest put all ten men behind the ball.

We had half a chance when Cisse didn't get full contact on a volley, but five minutes of injury time passed without the final clear opportunity we so craved - and deserved.

Ultimately it was disappointing not to take all three points from the game, but the display was more than good enough to win the match and we can be encouraged for the rest of the season ahead.

Our young side, dubbed Brendan's Babes by one or two journalists, looked nice and promising and their will be excitement and good football in store this season.

    Data provided by Press Association