How did a team playing 4-5-1 manage to score 7 goals? And how did they manage to concede 4 in one game after keeping three consecutive clean sheets?
David James believes the turning point of the game was his penalty save but I would like to point out two previous incidents that I believe transformed the a match where we were in control into complete chaos!
The first one is Jamo's mistake that gifted Kitson the equaliser. That goal seemed to change Reading's mentality completely as the belief flowed through the opposition and they thought they could win the game.
You only have to observe the period of the game after their equaliser for evidence of this. For the first time in the game, we were on the back foot and the defence had to absorb some pressure before the second event that I believe changed the game into a riot.
Papa Bouba Diop's header may have been (wrongly) disallowed but I think that this also helped the game swing in our favour for various reasons. With the "goal" scored so soon after Reading's equaliser, I reckon that the Pompey players might have thought "if they're that easy to score against, let's bomb forward!" or something of a similar nature.
My reasons for thinking this come from how our third goal was scored. You have a centre back running down the left touchline as if he was a winger and our left back is in the centre of their penalty area!
Like sharks that sniffed blood, our players could have sensed Reading's vulnerability and sacrificed defensive discipline for a more attacking approach that ended up being greatly rewarded. The players must have believed in their own ability and superiority to the Royals as I couldn't see them being so reckless against the likes of Arsenal or Liverpool, could you?
I wouldn't be worried about the fact that we conceded four at home. All of the goals we conceded had an element of luck about them.
The first one baffled everyone by hitting the crossbar and then a player, the second one was all James' fault but I can't see him making another blunder like that all season and their last two goals were both deflections that nobody could do anything about.
The 4-5-1 formation seems to be working pretty well in an attacking doesn't it? Niko Kranjcar and John Utaka work well on the wings and so I can't see Matty Taylor getting back into the team any time soon.
Benjani's hat-trick now presents a problem for Harry as this formation was probably formed to benefit Kanu. Obviously it's impossible for Redknapp to drop the Zimbabwean for the Fulham game but in the long term I wonder if they could both play effectively in the 4-3-3 system? That's if Harry continues to use it...
A couple of other minor points about the match:
I think I was a little harsh on Glen Johnson by giving him a measly 4 rating. Having watched the whole match through again, he did make a contribution to the match going forward, even if he had a hard time at the back.
Mark Halsey also took a lot of abuse from the Fratton Park crowd on Saturday but having seen the game on TV, I don't think he actually got anything wrong bar the odd minor decision.
The first goal was flagged because the linesman thought that Rosenior's shot crossed the line and not because it was offside. Whilst Diop's handball in the area may have been accidental, it was still a clear handball and every referee would give that decision, in my view.
Finally, I'll throw some stats at you:
23 (Yes, TWENTY-THREE) attempts at goal during that game. 12 on target, 9 off target and 2 blocked. Reading could "only" manage 10.
We had 63% possession in the game comapred to Reading's 37%. However, their territorial advantage over us was slightly better - 56 to 44.
We've managed to score as many goals in one game as Villa, Birmingham, Blackburn, Chelsea and Man United have managed all season. That's also two more than what Derby have scored.
Our latest result now means we statistically the second best attack in the division behind Arsenal. On the other hand, only the teams currently 15th in the table and below have am equal, or worse defence statistically.