Match Report vs Crewe

11 October 1997 (League Division One)

Att: 6,700

Team: Mautone, Bernal, Swales, Macca, Primus, Parkie, Caskey, Lambert, Meaker, Asaba, Williams.

Goal Scorers: Asaba(2), Own Goal

Man Of The Match: Williams

Certainly an interesting game. This performance provided an insight into Reading's season so far. For the first half an hour we played like complete shite and it was easy to see where the 6-0 Tranmere defeat came from, then all of a sudden we saw Reading's other side - some great play as seen in our 4-0 defeat of Sunderland last week. Despite being 3 goals down after just 30 minutes, I ended up going home (well into town to watch the Italy game actually) feeling disappointed we hadn't won the game, after such a spirited come back.

With Houghton out on international duty, Caskey made his comeback, making a start for the first time for quite a while. I'm sure very quickly he wished he'd was coming back for a different game. Even with his lucky white boots (!) Reading seemed powerless to stop Crewe giving the best possible entertainment to the 50 or so away fans behind the goal in the pouring rain. From the off the game seemed to be Crewes. Reading generously gave the ball to Crewe at every opportunity, and Crewe, not wanting to be rude, accepted and refused to give it back until Reading were fishing it out of the net.

It took Crewe 12 minutes to take the lead. Reading conceeded a free kick midway inside their half. It was central but didn't look anything too dangerous. All of a sudden the ball was lobbed over Williams head straight into the crowd of players inside the Reading box. A Crewe toe got to the ball first and helped it on it's way through the players, past Mautone and into the back of the net. Not wanting to sit on their one goal lead it was Crewe who continued to have the better of the play. Less than 10 minutes later they cut in from the left, got a fairly fortunate run of the ball, left Skippy standing, Primus kindly let the man through and Mautone flopped on the floor as the ball sneaked inside of the far post and into the net. 0-2.

Crewe, sensing a possible 9-0, promptly added their third on the half hour. Once again from an attack down the left wing they all too easily cut into the Reading area. Bernal once again failed to make any meaningful attempt to win the ball or block the player. The goal was all too similiar to the second. This time the Crewe forward took a direct approach, he hardly had to bother going round anyone. And once again close in, from the edge of the six yard box the shot sneaked in next to the far post - low, along the ground, with Mautone's fingers just a few millimetres away. 0-3.

At this point it was tempting to go home. Surely Reading couldn't come back from this. We'd done nothing. Crewe almost made it four when their forward turned deep inside the area and let fly only to see the ball go just wide of that right post this time. And then Reading started to play. Would have been nice if they'd started playing at the start, but....

Bernal, trying to make ammends for his defensive lapses, made a run down the right wing. He played the ball to Williams inside the Crewe box. Williams took it to the line and then somehow played in a low cross across the face of the goal. And there in the middle was Asaba to tap in his sixth goal of the season with Reading's first shot of the game. 1-3. And that was it. Reading decided perhaps they would play afterall and just went mad.

Moments later Williams unleashed a mighty header from on the edge of the box that he was unlucky to see fly just over the bar. And another effort from Williams could have pulled another back. Williams influence started to catch on and Meaker found some of that speed he must keep in reserve for emergencies such as this. With five minutes to the break Meaker put Reading firmly back into the game. A jinxy little run saw him beat a few players down the right. The defence looked paniced, the cross game in and a defender sliding in slid it into the goal. 2-3. And Williams was again involved as Reading looked to put the game all square before the break. Half time.

Luckily Reading came out after the break and continued to keep control of the game. It was hard to believe that those first 30 minutes had ever happened. Crewe looked like they could never score and Reading looked hungry. Parkie, Primus and Macca were all putting the tackles in and keeping it nice and tight at the back. And it was hard to believe just how easy Skippy had been beaten before. Some decent passing and Reading kept up the pressure looking for the equaliser - which came on the hour.

Swales went on a beautiful run down the left wing, cut into the box, past the defender and put over a wonderful cross onto the head of Carl "worth at least 6 million" Asaba waiting for it on the far post. Carl "23 goals a season" Asaba headed it down towards the corner. The keeper went down, appeared to have saved it, and then fumbled it at the last minute into the net. 3-3, and the completion of an amazing comeback from the dead.

With 30 minutes still left it looked to be heading Reading's way as we searched for the winner. However the fight back had taken it's toll. The lads were all played out but continued to battle. You could see Williams effort just by looking at him - his blue and white hoops transformed into muddy brown. Dariusz and Glasgow came on as subs as the pitch became more and more under water but the game drifted onto a draw, although Jamie Lambert almost won Reading all three points towards the end.

And once again Bullivant was pleased with the lads. What a shame we let in those three first. But Oxford and Wolves lose, Reading go above Oxford, and two places below Wolves. And you have to fancy the Royals for victory on Tuesday night.


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