20 September 2003: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
READING 1 COVENTRY CITY 2
Forster (21 mins).
Coventry City: Adebola (35 mins), Morrell (76 mins).
Half Time: 1-1
| Reading: Hahnemann, Murty,
Brown, Williams, Shorey, Murray (Tyson 71), Sidwell, Harper (Watson 70),
Hughes (Daley 55), Goater, Forster. Subs not used: Ashdown, Mackie.
Coventry City: Shearer, Shaw, Konjic, Staunton, Warnock, Mansouri, Safri, Doyle, Suffo (Barrett 85), Adebola, Morrell. Subs not used: Arphexad, Whing, McAllister, Jorgensen.
| Reading: Brown
Coventry City: Barrett
Referee: P Crossley (Bromley)
Kevin Dillon will remain the fans' favourite as the next Reading manager offering stability, continuity and a seemingly "safe option". However his appointment will have been made much harder for John Madejski after Dillon's second defeat from three games since the Pardew resignation. The trip to Oxford is a huge game for United in front of a record crowd for their new stadium - and unless we can concentrate better on Wednesday night then it could three defeats from four and Madejski could open up the manager's position for applicants. The West Ham game was always going to be tricky, but today was the kind of fixture we would have expected to win a few weeks ago. Today we looked a bit of a mess. We certainly weren't shockingly bad but it was hard to argue with the result and there appeared to be a slight lack of fire from the players. It's very early days for Dillon, in hopefully a long Reading career, but he's going to need to get more out of the team to keep the job on a permanent basis.
Coventry had picked up just one point from three away trips so far this season, but they were good for their win today with an impressive second half display that saw Reading struggle to contain their attack. Reading were outplayed by a Coventry City side that won the game without really doing anything that special. The Royals struggled all afternoon to make the most of home advantage and looked a dis-organised side short of ideas against stronger opposition.
City had the first real chance of the game when they broke through the defence to lob the ball onto the crossbar with Hahnemann beaten - the rebound was blasted over the bar. It was an early sign of the ease in which they were to break through into shooting positions. However, it wasn't all one way traffic and Reading might have done enough to win the game in the opening half an hour. Reading took the lead on 21 minutes when Forster broke through and kept onside to fire the ball across the keeper from the right and into the far corner of the net. The Royals could then have gone two goals up when a cross found Goater in an excellent position to score - but his shot was straight at the goalkeeper. Shorey had an effort from distance saved that could have swung the game heavily into Reading's favour - but these missed chances were to be our downfall as we failed to create many more throughout the rest of the game.
Reading's best period of the game quickly ended and City started to take control of the game - moments later City drew level with a corner from the left to the near post. The Reading defence seemed frozen and the ball was stuck home from close range. The visitors then dominated the second half and it seemed just a matter of time before they found the winner. Chance after chance found the Reading defence in a real mess and eventually saw a break on the right and a long range shot from the edge of the area that gave Coventry a deserved three points.
Coventry certainly weren't the best side we've faced
so far this season but their passing was far more accurate and they always
looked likely up front. Reading suffered from too many misplaced balls
and always come off second best in 50/50 situations. We seemed to lack
an edge of adventure when coming forward and far too often settled for
playing the ball backwards or sideways - Harper seemed off form and continually
played it too safe and the introduction of Watson did little to change
it. Goal scoring wasn't a problem earlier this season but now the Forster
and Goater partnership was clearly two players, with talent, playing individually.
Hughes disappointed once again as he struggled to create much stranded
out on the wing. Things can't have changed that much since Pardew's departure
but we were leagues apart from some of our performances earlier this season.
There's a lot of work to be done before Wednesday night.
From the start Reading's passing was wayward but with Forster looking a real threat as usual there was always a chance of opening up the City defence. The visitors posed no threat at first, then suddenly Adebola lobbed the ball onto the bar with Hahnemann beaten and the rebound produced a decent chance for Doyle who blasted over when he should have hit the target. Having ridden their luck Reading took the lead when City made a hash of catching the Reading forwards offside and Forster finished superbly with a well placed and fiercely stuck shot across the 'keeper. Shorey almost made it two minutes later with a right foot effort that Shearer did well to tip over. Forster then cut the ball back for Goater but the ball was slightly behind him and he couldn't get any real power into the shot and it was easily saved. After thirty five minutes Reading let City back into the game with a miscued clearance from a corner which should have been dealt with comfortably and Adebola slotted the ball in as the entire defence were rooted to the spot. It was a sloppy piece of defending. Forster then almost put Reading ahead again with a great shot from the edge of the box. The Royals were not playing well but they were making chances.
Reading carried on where they left off in the second half except they were conceding possession far more frequently. Even the reliable Adie Williams was having an off day allowing himself to be dispossessed in his own penalty area. Hughes was first to be substituted, and Dillon was absolutely right to take him off. He gave the ball away, or lost possession virtually very time he touched the ball in the first half and in the second half he seemed to have 'switched off' altogether. Hughes departure and Daley's arrival made little difference and City were now well on top passing and moving with a fluency we have come to expect from Reading. Harper and Murray were next to go replaced by Daley and Tyson. I thought Murray should have stayed on and Harper needed to be pushed forward not taken off. Reading certainly made it easier for City by defending too deep and allowing their midfield to run at the back four, which is how the winner eventually, and it has to be said, inevitably came. Hahnemann had done his best to keep Reading in the game with a great point blank save but he had no chance with Morrell's well taken goal on seventy-five minutes.
To say I was disappointed is an understatement. Brown,
Forster and Hahnemann aside nobody had a particularly good game today.
What also worried was the amount of bickering that appeared to be going
on between the players today - Murty in particular was continually whingeing.
As for Goater, it can only be his reputation that is keeping him in the
side - he doesn't seem to have any impact on the games I've seen. If you
compare his performance with Adebola's today it makes you wonder if we
got the right man. With Cureton, Butler gone and Henderson out on loan
we don't have many options up front. I dread to think how we would cope
if Fozzy gets injured. We haven't turned into a bad side overnight but
there needs to be some serious thinking after this performance before
the good start to the season evaporates into nothing. Lifting the players
after this performance will be Dillon's first big test - Mr Madejski might
help him a little by making some more encouraging noises than he is at
present - even if he is lining someone else up for the job.
Following report by Ali Costelloe
Coventry kicked off, shooting towards the north stand. The first 10 minutes disappeared before our eyes without so much as a shot on target, Forster doing a little bit of running, Dele Adebola seemingly running our defence round in circles, no real pressure anywhere. It was a little like the first half against Cardiff, in that we were giving the ball away, looking slack, and not really causing any worries to our visitors. Dele Adebola somehow got the ball the wrong side of Shorey, and was bearing down on goal towards Hahnemann. He decided to try and lob the big American, and ended up hitting the bar, from a very tight angle. The ball bounced down to Murty, who elected to ignore it. The Coventry player who got on the end of it had little more to do than tap it into the net, but for some reason row Z of the north stand appeared more inviting. Coventry showed their class early on.
Reading took the initiative, and won a couple of corners, each being floated in, to be headed on, and if all had been successful to this point, down for either striker to have a shot. Not really effective, but that's Reading FC and Corner kicks for you... Coventry cleared the second one out to Murty, who gave it all he had from about 35 yards, and had there not been a nice wall by some means constructed by Coventry, then it may well have hit the back of the net. This was cleared out for a throw, which was played in the direction of the running Forster. It was headed on, and Coventry screamed for offside. Forster did what he does best, and put the ball in the back of the net. All going to plan so far then
The Royals began to slacken off now; surely the rest of this game would be a simple exercise of putting the ball in the Coventry net, Forster and Goater feeding each other and putting the Royals further up the table, towards the promised land Coventry began to look like the premiership side they once were, not by any means good, more that the Royals looked atrocious, Sidwell and Hughes giving the ball away, Murty and Shorey not holding strong at the back, and leaving huge gaps for Coventry to exploit. And exploit them they did, the wings being used as if they were smuggling routes, anything and everything being played into them, Coventry putting 3 or 4 men in the box, hoping that elusive cross would whack the noggin of one of them, and leave Reading to pick the ball up out of the net. Forster had a chance to double the lead, and most people in the east must have thought he had after a 20-yard shot whistled just past the angle of post and crossbar.
Eventually Coventry started to make themselves look good, or more likely the Royals just didn't have a clue, the midfield not passing it to anybody but each other, the defence wanting to launch it towards the two strikers at the front, who were being dwarfed by the Coventry defenders. Hahnemann was getting more and more agitated at the bunching up of the players. I know Dillon reduced the pitch width, but Pardew bought wide players like Murray to make best use of these open spaces. If we can't use the squad we've got to put the ball in the back of the net of a team we should be thrashing by now then you've really got to question Dillon's tactics, and why he wanted to narrow the pitch.
Coventry started to win space in the final third, with the wingers able to make space for themselves and pull men outwards, leaving the space in the middle to be ran at by Adebola, who apparently had the ball glued to his feet for much of the first half. They won a corner, and the Royals had 10 men in the box, with Forster on the halfway line. In came the ball, and reached Harper, at a rather pathetic velocity. He chose to head it behind, as he had nobody to play it to. Fair enough, what else do you do when there is nobody to pass to but the opponents? So the second corner of 20 seconds flew in, and it was headed back by Brown to Adebola, just on the corner of the 6-yard box. He made no mistake, smashing the ball home for an equaliser, which was clearly coming.
It was so frustrating for the fans, gifting a poor away team an equaliser, after being 1-0 up after 20 minutes, and apparently cruising. The Royals must have had something wrong with them, maybe they were being complacent, or maybe the managerial crisis had affected them, but you can make no excuses for flying in late on a player, or being so slack with your marking you need a taxi to reach the player who you're supposed to be watching. The players started to give away sloppy free kicks, and Sidwell ponced about with the ball, with nobody to pass to, until a Coventry player emerged to relieve the poor man of the ball.
Coventry had a lot more desire, maybe they wanted to win more than us, or maybe they went in on a high, winning their first game of the season in midweek, 4-1 against Stoke. Thankfully the half time whistle blew before Coventry had a chance to inflict further damage. The half time interval itself was interesting, a gladiatorial contest set up by a teambuilding company, and three Royals fans and three Coventry fans battling it out with huge lumps of foam. The only good news that came in the interval was that our local rivals Oxford, and cup opponents in midweek were losing. But what the Royals fans wanted to see was a goal, or two, or more, or at least a decent enough performance not to have to be mocked incessantly by any workmates or friends, who take joy in watching the towns team lose.
The Royals kicked off the second half, and promptly set off to do what they didn't in the first half let Coventry take a lead. Reading began to give the ball away in ways that I consider to be appropriate in an under 7's game, letting Coventry players run at the man with the ball, and not notice about 10,000 people shout "man on" before getting off his arse and turning round to see a man in a red and white shirt bearing down on Hahnemann's goal. It was getting embarrassing now; Dillon obviously hasn't mastered the art of throwing teacups, or telling players to do what they should have been taught when they were nine
Goater was linking up play well, and getting the ball from Hughes and Murray, to half-heartedly dribble it at a bunch of about 4 Coventry players, who obviously knew what to watch out for. Maybe they had prepared for the game? The space at the back was being exploited by the wingers of Coventry, who must have loved the amount of crosses they were being allowed to make. Connection with the ball was what was missing for them, with most headers or volleys going too wide. It really was only a matter of time before they got a winner; the Royals obviously weren't looking for one, and if they were then they were looking in the wrong places.
You wont get a goal from the halfway line,
or in your own half, unless you're playing in a pub team against some
team made up of butchers, bakers and candlestick makers.
Dillon made a good substitution now, putting Omar Daley on the pitch to replace Andy Hughes. Daley injected some punch into the play, and looked like he cared for the club more than anybody else on the pitch. Ironic that he was the most recent acquisition to the squad. The Royals were beginning to look like they might get back into the game, when Coventry came back from a counter attack. The ball was predictably played down the wings, and when it rebounded out to Morrell on the edge of the area, he made no mistake, and beat Hahnemann with a low drive. This one was definitely, unmistakably coming. Dillon put Watson and Tyson on, and they soon added some Zip into the game, with Watson's trademark pinpoint passing picking out Forster, and Tyson making some strong runs up the pitch, on a high, after scoring a hat-trick for the reserves in midweek. Coventry were now holding back, happy to hold their lead and sit out the game, quelling any hint of an attack the Royals could now pose.
The Royals fans began to leave now, most probably
agitated after repeating the mistakes of last years corresponding fixture,
taking a lead midway through the first half, to walk away with nothing
after slack defending and generally pitiful play. The Royals now resorted
to playing the ball long once again, seemingly forgetting all that Pardew
told them about good, neat, passing on the floor. The Royals lost shape,
and thus couldn't do anything when everybody was all over the place. Further
torture was reduced when the Referee put his whistle to his lips, and
ended the agony. We really were awful today, and made a run of the mill
team look like superstars. Another performance like this, and Dillon most
certainly won't get the job. You can hide a poor display if you win, but
sometimes you just have to go back to square one, and realise that if
you want to be challenging for promotion, then the basic errors have to
stop. Oxford United are fourth in division 3, and even if they are playing
good football, and we are playing badly, then we will humiliate ourselves.
Marks for Players and referee.
Following report by Shades
FANS' POST MATCH OPINION
Got an opinion? E-Mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Appropriate submissions will appear on match report pages
Copyright Hob Nob Anyone? © 1994-2003
The Original Reading Football Club Internet Site