15 September 1998
Barnsley 3 Reading 0
Hammond, Booty, Primus, McPherson, Gray, Crawford, Brebner, Caskey, Sarr, Glasgow, Reilly.
Appologies for bad typing, it was bloody ffffffreezing over there, and the drive over the M62 has done nowt to improve my circulation. :-)
Starting line up for Reading saw them play 4-5-1, with Hammond in goal, Grey, Booty, Macca and Linvoy in defence, Reilly, Caskey, Brebner, Glasgow and Crawford in midfield and just Sarr up alone at the front.
The game got under way with Barnsley attacking, and a low curling shot had Hammond catching safely within a few minutes of the start. Reading's pattern of play became quickly obvious - kill the match, then punt it downfield in the hope Sarr could run onto the ball. Needless to say, it was pretty unentertaining stuff, and uneffective too. Sarr had a couple of promising runs but, lacking support, they came to nothing. Then, with 20 minutes gone, Barnsley were awarded a free kick just to the left of the D. Up stepped darren Barnard to curl the ball beautifully into the top right corner. Hammond got his fingers to it, but could do little to stop the ball going in the net. The game carried on with little incident. A good cross from the Barnsley right left Hammond flapping ineffectively, and Booty had to kick behind to make a good clearance from Fjortoft. Macca and Linvoy were both marking *very* tightly (occassionally, they couldn't have gotten closer to Ward if they'd climbed inside his shorts!). Ward was wrestled down a couple of times, with the ref ignoring it on several occassions. Barnsley had shouts for a penalty denied when Ward was again thrown to the floor.
And so the first half ended 1-0 to the tykes. Into the second half, and Barnsley came more alive. Fjortoft went close within minutes of the restart. He broke past the defence, but Nicky rushed out to meet him. Fjortoft was forced wide, and he couldn't turn the shot back on target, sending wide. It was a warnng of what was ahead, though. ward barged past the defence shortly after, but was fortunately tackled by Fjortoft.
However, after 59 minutes, Reading failed to clear the ball, and Fjortoft latched onto the end of a long cross, to head past Nicky from the edge of the box. Barnsley kept up the pressure, and several times Nicky had to come slidding to the edge of the box to collect from the feet of an attacker. the few times Reading won the ball, Sarr was totally unsupported to make any headway up front. Playing 10 yards ahead of the rest of the team, and being so quick, by the time he reached the edge of the Tyke's box and looked for support, he was 25-20 yards ahead of everyone. So it was no surprise when one of the four defenders bearing down on him won the ball. Eventually, having run fruitlessly for long enough, he was replaced by Marty Williams.
Reading weren't making much progress up front, but a lovely move by Brebner almost brought a goal. With his back to the defender, he received the ball 25 yards out, flicked it through the defenders legs, turned and ran into the box, from where he curled his shot just a foot wide of the far post. Glasgow left some Tykes lying on their arses a couple of times, but nothing came of it. With the minutes going by, Barnsley came at reading more and more, and they were forced to defend. With only a few minutes left, a cross was from in from the left, the first shot was scrambled almost clear, but fjortoft was on hand to ram it home. Reading, to their credit, didn't give up, and Williams had a couple of probing runs. With seconds left, Glasgow wriggled through the defence and won a corner. Grey's cross was met well by Macca, whose header was, by my count, reading's first shot on target. However, it was all to no avail, and Barnsley finished winning comfortably.
All in all, despite the result, I thought this was a much better performance than at Preston. The team looked much more balanced with the changes, and had we just had more options up front, we might have taken some pressure of the defence.
Hammond couldn't really be blamed for the goals, he did well to touch the first two, and the third he's already stopped once. Grey and Booty were much improved, particularly Grey. I thought his positional sense was much better, and he stayed on his feet more. Several times he read the pass and took the ball of the oppositions' feet. He was better going forward too, putting in some good crosses. Macca and Linvoy were solid, made good headers all night and kept Ward silent.
It's notable that the two goals from open play were from high and long crosses which missed out the two central defenders. Caskey and Brebner were classy, and Caskey was much more effective. The two linked up well, Caskey was willing to travel over more of the field and so was always a passing option. Glasgow too showed promise although, like me, seemed unsure what role he was supposed to play. I expected him to be just off Mass, but he looked to be playing central midfield, and totally wasted. when the ball came to him, he showed some good touches, and fast ball skills. At least twice he found himself facing two defenders, and was able to wrigle between the two, keeping the ball.
Sarr did OK, but had no support. He's not bad as a sole striker, as he wins the ball most times (not bad for his height). However, without support, he has nothing but turn and take on all four defenders on his own. He was also left chasing pointless hopeless punts a lot of the match. still, at least he didn't kill anyone this time. Williams came on and put on a much better display than Saturday. He was willing to run, charging into both channels for long balls. He showed good movement on the ball, and almost broke throughthe defence a few times. I've saved reilly and Crawford to the end. I really can't see why they're still in the team, after the criticism Tommy's mnade of others.
Crawford once again was almost invisable, the only times he was noticable was when he popped up to give the ball away in a suicide pass. Reilly was more effective, and linked up well with Grey going forward. However, yet again, he would not defend at all. Personally, I'd rather see Jamie be given another chance. Ok, he can't defend either, but there's a good chance he'll do something special once in a while. My Man of the match, I think, would have to be Brebner yet again. He really seems a bargain buy, and it's such a shame that so few team-members are on the same wave-length.
Oh well, at least now we can concentrate on the league?....:-)