AFC BOURNEMOUTH 3 READING 1 Attendance: 6,007
Scorers: Caskey Date: 11 September 1999
Team: Howie, Gray, Bernal, Casper, Gurney, Smith, Grant, Caskey, Scott, Williams, Forster.
Subs: Hunter (for Gray), Haddow, McIntyre (for Scott), Primus, V.D. Kwaak
Audio: Nope / Not yet Match Hero: Nope

The league season may only be six games old, but the pre-season optimism has now all disappeared. It seems impossible to even imagine anything other than another dull mid-table season. The most depressing thing is that these feelings seem to have spread across the team judging by the performance at Bournemouth. We weren't actually that bad, no worse than performances where we've scrapped draws, but there's no passion and no will to win. We came back from two goals down against Preston last week but that fighting spirit deserted us as Bournemouth simply played out time.

One of the most worried men at the moment must be John Madejski. He desperately wanted and needed Burns to succeed, but Burns has failed him despite generous time and sums of money. Madejski was there on Saturday, out on the pitch before the game to applaud the travelling Reading fans. He'll be as disappointed with the defeat as all of us stuck behind the goal at Bournemouth. And he'd have drawn his own conclusions after watching the game as to why Reading are set to fail yet again this season.

Unfortunately for Tommy Burns it was always going to be near mission impossible for Reading travelling down to Bournemouth. The Cherries are once again invincible at home this season and this victory made it their fourth straight home victory. No one expected Reading to come away with anything this time round. Last year the single goal victory for the Royals destroyed the Cherries unbeaten home run and set up the possibility of a play-off finish. This time round confidence is lower, team spirit is lower, and the Royals are lower in the table. 23rd out of 24th after this result.

However, the Royals got off to the best possible start. For the opening ten minutes there was only one team in the game. And that, amazingly, was Reading. Attacking towards the travelling fans Forster almost gave Reading the lead within the first five minutes. He picked up the ball inside the box, went past his man and it needed the Bournemouth keeper to come racing off his line to make the save. A few minutes later and Forster was at it again, breaking into the right side of the box this time. He spotted a gap between two defenders in his goal-bound dash, slipped through nicely - almost - before being sandwiched to the ground in a heap inside the box. Penalty to the Royals and up stepped super Daz.

Caskey strode up slowly. The keeper dived to his right, and only after the keeper had dived Caskey picked his spot to slide the ball low into the opposite corner of the net. 1-0 to the Royals and the approximately 1,200 of us all went mad. And we deserved the lead for coming at the opposition and playing some great first time passing football forwards. Unfortunately after taking the lead that was that. It was almost like we decided to cling onto the lead for the next 80 minutes. Which was obviously never going to work against a determined home side.

After about twenty minutes it was 1-1. The ball was played into the box, a couple of players slid in, but it was the unfortuante Grant who ended up making the contact to push the ball past Howie for an own goal. There was a brief flicker of resistance from Reading as Forster was again involved in a forward movement, down the right wing, but then that was it. Bournemouth took more and more of a grip on the game, and Reading returned to the hit and hope stuff of the 80's. All we'd do was hoof it clear with some of Howie's kicks failing to even stay on the pitch.

Ten minutes later Bournemouth took the lead. At least it was a decent goal I suppose, hit from outside the area left of centre and swinging into the top right corner of the net with some speed. Nice strike leaving Howie no-where close. 2-1. Already we could tell that was that. Bournemouth looked composed and comfortable, Reading looked slow, predictable, and nervous. Bernal and Casper were both entirely failing to cope in the centre of defence, with Hunter on the bench. It probably wasn't much of a suprise to see Casper helping the home side out with their third. The ball was crossed from the left into the Reading box. There was Casper, all by himself.

Casper had loads of time and loads of space. He could have hoofed it clear or even controlled it, but for some reason he took the decision to do a diving header. Howie, reasonably enough, wasn't expecting it, and the ball went like a bullet off Casper's head and straight into the back of the Reading net. 3-1 to Bournemouth, even though Reading players had scored three out of the four goals. Scoring two own goals is probably a fair indication of Reading's luck at the moment.

The second half was almost entirely uneventful. Foolishly I expected Reading to come out fighting for the second half. Either they simply didn't or it was all too quickly crushed by Bournemouth. The home side had the game won and were content to sit back and not let Reading play. Time went on and on and Reading never really got into a position where they could snatch anything.

Reading's best chance of the second half came from Darren Caskey again. We won a free kick just right of centre on the edge of the box, and Daz's free kick first found the bottom of the crossbar and then the inside of the post before being hoofed to safety. Perhaps if we'd made it 3-2 the time might have come back to life, but it didn't. McIntyre came on for Scott, much to the displeasure of the Reading fans who were booing him before he'd even stepped onto the pitch. To be fair to McIntyre he didn't do too badly and worked his way into a couple of nice positions. But it wasn't enough.

Hunter, who had come on for the injured Gray, did his best to liven things up - continuing where he had left off with a psycho game that Parky would have been proud of. He eventually got sent off with about 15 minutes left for his second booking after sending a player flying.

So more disappointment. Tommy needs a league win against Chesterfield on Saturday - without it he may find himself without a job.