Gorgeous sunshine, a record signing and the start of the football
Oh well, can't have everything.
Early signs were good with the R's fans making plenty of noise in the Tiny Weeny Stadium, easily outsinging Bury who were very quiet considering they'd just won the div 2 championship (remember how much noise we made in play off season?). On the pitch everything started well also. For those of us a little bit too far away to make the pre-season friendlies it was a first chance to view the new look R's, and all the new boys looked happy enough, especially Linvoy, who from the off looked unbeatable. Asaba also started really well, with the Bury Groundsman having to be restrained as Our Carl left scorch marks on his plush pitch. The balls he was chasing weren't up to much tho', and we were all left hoping for a change of rules to "he who runs fastest gets 3 points" as it became quickly evident that the midfield of Houghton, Skippy and Lambert were short on ideas.
Nevertheless, we kept possesion well early on and scored with our first decent chance of the match, a break down the left seeing Hodges turn the ball neatly inside for Swales to poke it in, in one second completley justifying his selection over Bodin who wouldn't have got anywhere near it (unless they used one of them comedy winter orange balls, which look more like carrots). From then on things went a bit Bury-shaped, with their Mr Dreadlock in their Midfield causing problems and Booty struggling to contain numerous breaks down their left.
Many good chances came and went for Bury, who headed over when it was easier to score on 2 seperate occasions and were denied by a point blank save from Steeeeevo after we had failed to clear a free kick on the edge of the box (penalty shmenalty). The second half started and Bury were even more dominant and equalised 10 minutes in, some geezer volleying in from close range. Lambert managed a little spot of jinxing , obviously worried by the sight of Holsgrove warming up, but it came to nowt and we were reduced to the sight of Reading playing 2 wing backs, 5 centre backs, an old man and 2 strikers. Obviously Skippy and Holsgrove weren't playing at the back, but they're not the most creative of players and we settled into an unpleasantly familiar pattern: pass it along the back a bit trying to look a bit Liverpool, followed by a punt from Dariusz to Asaba which he failed to connect with. I know once The New Boy understands the players a bit more these things may come off, but passing it into the midfield may be nice?
Anyway, we came back into it towards the end (we did honest, don't believe these "Bury completely dominant" stories) as Houghton awoke from his mid afternoon nap and started to show a bit of class, making intelligent runs with and without the ball to open up the Bury defence, at one point beating a couple of players to create a great shooting opportunity on the edge of the box, only to decide that in his capacity as Old Man In The Midfield he wasn't allowed to score goals and it came to nowt.
Nev came on but didn't do a lot, and the final Lost ball tally stood at 5, perhaps some one should explain to Bury that if they didn't punt so many balls out of the ground they might be able to lower their ticket prices and thus attract more fans (?14!!, to see poxy Bury!!)
In the end a decent result, but not a great performance, though once Asaba gets used to our players and Dariusz "finds his length" , we'll only be a creative midfield player away from a decent side?
Another quick report....
Reading kicked off the new season with a worthy away point at a sun drenched Gigg Lane. And although the Royals faded away in the heat in the second half, a promising first half gave a glimpse of what might be. For the travelling fans Reading's new record signing Carl Asaba was on display up front alongside new signing from Barnet, Lee Hodges. Wdowczyk made his first full return and looked his old self and Bullivant's other new signing from his old team, Linvoy Primus, looked solid in the middle of defence. With Bury unbeaten at home for, if I'm right, 25 games, and on the back of promotion to the first division for the first time for about the same number of years, a point was always going to be a good result. And besides we never beat Bury. Unless the first game gets rained off with us 0-2 down of course.
Bury showed they could be dangerous quite early on with Mautone having to be pretty sharp to tip over the bar after about 10 minutes. Shortly afterwards Reading scored their first league goal of the season, and in doing so continued the scoring habit demonstrated in every of the pre-season games. Bit of an unusual goal though: Steve Swales on 13 minutes. Lee Hodges put over a pacey cross in front of goal, and somehow left-back Swales was right up there in the centre forward position just outside the six yard box. He stick his right foot out and the ball was in the net. 1-0 to the Royals. The best start to the season. Reading continued with an impressive half.
Houghton looked good putting the ball around, playing the ball from midfield to the front line successfully. On the ground stuff, and positive stuff in the right direction. Asaba looked a class act. And Reading looked comfortable. Swales looked uncomfortable at the back, but he had scored that goal. Primus had managed to pick up his first yellow for the club for a foul on the edge of the area. So everything going well then!
The second half was Bury's. On 55 minutes they volleyed the equaliser. From a corner the ball was knocked down into the Reading area, and Mautone was given little chance despite an outstretched arm. As the game came to a close it was Bury looking more likely to grab the points, with 10 minutes left the ball just passed Mautone's post. The home side had a doubtful penalty turned down, and Mautone was in excellent form to keep the scores level. So 1-1 at full time. A good result all considered. Bullivant happy. Madejski happy. If we draw the away ones and win the home ones.... So we just have to beat the Swindle next week, who, along with Poxford scored three home points on Saturday.