READING 1 HALIFAX TOWN 1 Attendance: 5,918
Scorers: Caskey Date: 20 November 1999
Team: Whitehead, Gurney, Polston, Hunter, Bernal (Grant), Murty, Parkinson (sent off), Caskey, Evers, Williams (McIntyre), Forster.
Audio: Supplied by Classic Gold
Match Hero: No way

The predictable dull lifeless performance from the Royals we all expected after the recent run of results. We did not deserve the draw. The fans did not deserve to freeze their bollocks off to watch it. Reading were saved by a fortunate penalty with 15 minutes to go when it looked like we'd drop out of the FA Cup to third division Halifax, whose goal on the hour had separated the sides.

Reading were weak in defence, weak in midfield, and weak up front. We just can't work as a team and the management seem unable to resolve the problem. Reading performances continue to move in the wrong direction with little positive signs. It used to be just a team problem (just!) but now it's individuals too. Nearly every player out there seemed unable to work with any other player. We had a group of players who would be saviours - returning from injury to inject skill and passion in the team and move us forward. However, even Murty, Evers and Forster (our potential saviours) seemed strangely lacking against Halifax. Pardew has inherited an overpaid, unconfident, unhappy players and can't seem to do a thing with them.

It was a pretty even start to the match with both sides failing to make an immediate impact on the game. Halifax were content to keep Reading out in search of the draw to take it back to their place and Reading seemed clueless as to how to break Halifax down. As the game moved on Reading were having almost all the possession with Whitehead having large periods without even getting a sniff of the ball. Despite our apparant advantage we seemed completely confused as to what to do with the ball inside the last third of the pitch. Far too much hoofing the ball in the air with it bouncing all over the place off the head of almost every player. Nothing creative.

Gurney put over a couple of crosses that weren't directly to the keeper but were cleared with ease as we failed to push men into the box. When the cross was about right, the runs of Williams and Forster were so poorly timed (or was it the cross) that they were on the goalline before the ball was played. But the crosses were rare as everything centred in the middle of the pitch. No use of the wings and no use of pace to attack a team hoping we'd do exactly what we were doing. All very dull and nothing to warm us up.

Reading were clearly getting frustrated as half time approached. Our only shot of the half was an effort from Caskey from a free-kick that sailed over the bar. Parky, already on a yellow, was making up for the lack of team play by flying in all over the place. Skillful, no. Dedicated to the cause, yes. Unfortunately he picked up a red card on 40 minutes for a second bookable challenge. Perhaps he didn't deserve to go so soon, but it was only an amount of time before he was off.

Halifax sniffed victory with Reading down to ten men and could have taken the lead before the break. Their forward look a little too long to allow Whitehead to come out and prevent a goal. The ball was played to the left, well inside the box, where they should have scored, but the shot sailed over the bar to safety. A second attempt was fired just wide of Whitehead's left post as at half time Halifax started getting on top.

The second half was more of the same.

On the hour Haliaf took the lead. Simply enough text-book goal. From a corner the ball was played over from the left. The far post header was placed across the face of goal and into the near post corner of the net. A well executed goal, but quite frankly shite defending.

And at last some noise from the East Stand. But not positive. "You all get paid too much" and "You're not fit to wear the hoops" - sung by a large number of frustrated fans.

Hunter and Bernal got fed up of getting beaten every time and started pulling people everywhere. Hunter was lucky not to follow Parky with a second bookable off the pitch. At the other end Evers simply couldn't get past his man - every time.

Reading got lucky when the ball was headed down inside the Haliax area with 15 minutes on the clock. A Halifax defender stuck his arm in the way of the ball and Reading were awarded a penalty. Caskey came forward and drove the ball into the roof of the net to "earn" Reading a replay in 10 days time.

Post Match Opinions

For the first fifteen minutes the Royals controlled the game, attacked well and if we had higher quality finishing by those who had the chances would have been a couple up during that time. But 20 minutes after the kickoff the Royals transformed into a hunchback of a side, struggling to get around and hideously disproportional. 0-0 at half time and the Royals were looking a weathered side.

Down to ten men after Parky had been booked twice it was uphill for the Royals. Then Halifax took the lead as the ball was crossed to the far side of the six yard box and the unmarked Halifax player superbly placed his header wide of Whitehead into the top of the net. 1-0 to Halifax and they were looking deserved winners. But the Royals equalized when the the ref did well to spot a handball in the box and Caskey converted.

At full time and after much jeering from the fans the beleaguered Royals trudged off the pitch. There must surely be only one solution to this continuing mess, sell or free tansfer many of our current squad and get some quality first division players in. Every team that comes to Reading must get a lift from the stadium and be up for beating money bags Reading. Mr Mad need to splash out on some real quality players who can do whats required week in and week out.

The consequences if this continues; thousands of fans who will give up on spending an average of 22 per game (ticket, food, drink, program, car park, travelling) to watch Reading struggle and lose against average 2nd division teams and then spend 20 minutes trying to escape the car park. -- Deano

I do agree that it was a lifeless performance but considering the 5-0 loss at Millwall and the fact Parky was sent off I thought it could have been worse. Only just however! Surley Polston must get some credit I though he had a great game at the bakc and should replace Hunter alongside Primus now as Hunter can't play proper football. -- Porky

This was a horrid freezing cold day with an equally chilling display to complement the conditions. This in my opinion on current form could be a taste of the delights that will be filling the Mad Stad next season. Its frightening (and yes right or wrong we only had ten men.) but lowly teams are holding us at home, I think Im correct in saying we only had three shots on goal AT HOME!! The team looked absolutely lifeless no pace and creating very little. Lets give some of these highly rated young lads a run out even if they dont do any better Im sure they cant do worse and they might have a bit of pride pulling on the hoops. Loyal but disillusioned . -- William Pocock

What a load of complete cack. You would have thought that the senior man of the squad would have enough brains to stay on the pitch even if his team mates yet again showed a complete lack of passion and effort! One of the best squads in the 2nd division maybe but they still can't play as a team! Are we destined to have the best stadium in the 3rd Division? -- Confused Royals Fan

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