A starting lineup gamble by Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew did not exactly pay off here in the first half. With Yohan Cabaye missing out due to a "mouth injury", Pards started a CM combo of Cheik Tiote and Gael Bigirimana... which on paper or when spoken seems like it should be mostly indestructible and strike fear in everyone on the pitch. To be fair, they performed well in their defensive duties for the most part, but the most frightening part of their performance was the fact that neither of them looked as though they cared much to possess the ball and help Newcastle build attack through the middle of the pitch.
It's perhaps not fair to single Tiote and Bigi out for sub-par play in the first half... in fact everyone on the pitch (save for Steve Harper) has looked listless at best and flat poor at times. We have gifted many chances to Reading through shaky defending, but to our benefit, they have planted a majority of them in Row Z (as Newcastle have on the few chances that we've created) and Pavel Pogrebnyak will feel harshly done by to have not put one on the board - Steve Harper saving well on a headed ball mid-way through the half and James Perch blocking brilliantly right at the halftime whistle.
Here's hoping for a better second half!