13 January 2004: FA CUP ROUND THREE REPLAY
READING 1 PRESTON NORTH END 2
Preston: Cresswell (28 mins), Koumantarakis (47 mins).
| Half Time: 0-1
Preston will meet
Swansa City (away)
in Round Four
| Reading: Hahnemann, Murty,
Williams, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Murray, Hughes (Salako 73), Harper (Watson
55), Newman (Sidwell 55), Morgan, Goater. Subs not used: Savage, Young.
Preston: Gould, O'Neil, Edwards, Mears, Alexander, Etuhu, McKenna, Keane, Healy, Cresswell, Koumantarakis (Abbott 67). Subs not used: Cartwright, Lonergan, Skora, McCormack.
| Reading: -
Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne & Wear)
Reading stumbled out of the FA Cup to Preston last night in front of the lowest home crowd of the season. The attendance of just 9,314 witnessed another poor Reading performance that stretched the current run to seven games without a win. Reading had chances to win the game but were shocking in front of goal with Shaun Goater missing a series of simple chances that saw Preston progress to round four and Reading exit, after a third round home replay, for the second season in a row.
Reading got off to a bright enough start with Ingimarsson forcing an early save from a Scott Murray corner and Ricky Newman putting in a decent effort that was just over the Preston crossbar. Harper put the ball wide, when perhaps he should have done better, after the Preston keeper failed to clear and Reading created a few chances. However, as the game settled down it was Preston that looked the better side as they enjoyed most of the possession and looked far more capable of taking their chances. Preston took the lead just before the half hour mark when Reading lost the ball in the middle of the pitch allowing it to be fed forward seeing a shot that came out to Cresswell. Cresswell beat Hahnemann with ease with a effort that flew into the top corner. With Preston a goal up they looked likely to increase their lead before the break as Reading lost their way - a shot just before half time nearly made it two but was just over the Reading crossbar. After half time the expected second goal found the back of the net after some comical goalkeeping from Marcus Hahnemann. A cross from the left saw Hahnemann miss it and the ball bounced between him and Williams before being blasted home making it 0-2.
One small bright point for Reading on a very dull night at the Madejski Stadium was Dean Morgan's performance up front alongside Goater. Morgan looked a much better prospect and worked hard to nearly get Reading back in the game early in the second half with a shot that needed to be tipped over the bar. Goater had a chance to get Reading back in it but somehow managed to put the ball wide from just a few yards out. Preston continued to look the more composed side with Reading making all kinds of mistakes in a game that showed a massive lack of confidence. The Royals were lucky not to go futher behind when Hahnemann was beaten again and the ball was cleared off the line and moments later the ball was struck against the Reading post. Reading were already well beaten when Goater eventually found the back of the net with six minutes left to play.
Following report from John Wells:
Reading opened the game brightly. Morgan's first contribution was encouraging, and Ingimarsson forced Gould into a save in the second minute. However it was soon obvious that Preston were going to take the initiative. They passed the ball better, and closed players down quickly all over the pitch. In contrast Reading were getting caught in possession because nobody was prepared to offer a passing option and were sending passes astray with alarming regularity.
Ingimarsson flicked on a corner at the near post and Goater almost got his head to it but was closely marked. Harper had a half chance when Morgan pressurised Gould from a cross but the ball went high and wide. It was Preston that were looking more likely to score and they took the lead midway through the first half. The usually dependable Murty was largely responsible for the goal, hesitating and losing possession on the half way line and then later in the move failing to close down Cresswell who was allowed time to line up, and calmly curl, a shot inside the far post.
Two minutes into the second half Williams and Hahnemann got in a muddle which only they can explain and left Koumantarakis with a simple tap in. Morgan, who is continuing to show promise, produced a piece of individual skill which almost brought Reading straight back into the game when he turned cleverly on the edge of the box and sent in a shot which struck the crossbar. From that point things went from bad to worse. As Reading became more desperate the errors multiplied and good players started making uncharacteristic errors. Defenders were making almost comical errors, the ball was being hoofed hopefully forward far too often, and the finishing was simply appalling. Goater headed wide twice when it looked easier to score, Hughes and Sidwell struck shots which ended up nearer the corner flag than the goal. At one point Murty ran out to play Preston offside, only to find he was the only player who had! Preston came close on a couple of occasions to increasing their lead, hitting the woodwork and forcing saves from Hahnemann. Near the end, some determined play from Watson put Goater into a scoring position and, although his first shot was saved he clipped the rebound over the grounded 'keeper into the net. Preston then managed to keep possession long enough to take the sting out of any potential revival.
The attendance suggested that only the truly committed
and loyal fans were there last night which, combined with late revival,
probably saved the team from being booed off after what was a very poor
performance overall. Given that we are clearly not anywhere near ready
to compete in the Premiership at present (along with the rest of the teams
in our division) I hope Steve Coppell and Mr Madejski will focus on improving
the quality of the performances and building a stronger squad over the
next few months. Some of the poor play is to do with players under performing
or needing time to develop, but there are still one or two who are simply
not good enough. We are clearly going through a period of transition and,
as we have seen in recent years, it can take a season or more for things
to settle down. Sometimes things can go downhill for while before they
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