If you missed this game shoot yourself.
This was Reading back to their brilliant best. It just goes to show that two weeks is a long time in football. Two weeks ago everyone was preparing for the drop, and Jimmy Quinn must have been one of the most scared men in football following mass demonstration at the 1-6 home defeat. Now we're just a point off the top half of the table and things almost couldn't be better! Reading's record crowd of the season produced a brilliant atmosphere as Reading dumped all over a rather dodgy looking Manchester City. The away team hardly got a look in and their large away support hardly raised a cheer all night.
Reading were forced to make two changes to the team that put in the much improved performance against Grimsby on Saturday. Caskey, out for personal reasons, was replaced by Lee Nogs, and Booty who limped off on Saturday was replaced by Andy 'Skippy' Bernal. Two inspired chances too.
The Royals started as they meant to continue. Bernal stormed down the right straight from the start on a couple of wicked runs and played a couple of dangerous crosses. Gooding and Lambert both tried a couple of long shots. Better things were to come. Lambert, looking an extremely err... twisty character, right from the start, twisted a couple of players with a wicked little run through the middle. He touched it to the oncoming Nogan on his left side. Nogs took just inside the area and drove it into the right side of the net to the left of the City keeper. Yes! 1-0 to the R's - and what a goal!
Man City's input to the first half was quite limited really. There was only one shot I remember which went straight to Tommy Wright - prefered to Mihaylov in goal.
The start of the second half gave Man City their best spell of the game when they came close to equalising as they came back out at Reading. Wright saved brilliantly twice to keep Reading ahead, once diving to his left to tip a powerful drive wide of his left post. Then Reading took control again with a couple of dangerous breaks exposing City to be a very weak side both in midfield and defence.
The Royals had, as usual, shown their ability to knock the ball around and keep possession. We'd also shown we can get down the wings and put in decent crosses. But the difference about tonight was that we also showed how to come straight through the middle and directly towards goal - along with all the other methods. It was an all round brilliant performance.
Reading almost added to their lead a couple of times. Gilkes played a great ball to Lambert on the right scorching forward, he passed a few defenders and crossed to Morley over on the far post. A little lower, or without the defender, and Morley would have put it in. Then the in-form Nogs got another chance from a Gooding pass across the field on the ground. He cut inside a treat and unleashed a shot narrowly wide of the left post. Then we did add to the lead.
The ball was won in defence and Gilkes picked it up just outside the Reading area. Then he was off. 'Run, run, run, run Gilksey!'. At blistering speed he broke out of the Reading half. He strode past one player, avoided another, and just kept going. He broke into the City half and into the area. He took it to the right of one of the last two defenders, then played the ball across the area behind the last defender to the on-side Lee '50 million' Nogan who powered the ball into the left corner! YES! WHAT A GOAL! A real beauty, and 2-0 to the Royals!
It was pretty much over before Steve Lomas got his marching orders for jumping on Parkie (who had replaced an injured Skippy). About 10 minutes of injury time and it was all over.
By the way, was the linesman a woman?
Wright was excellent again in goal bringing chants of 'Give him a contract' - no wonder he replaced Bobby. Mihaylov is a great keeper but I have to say Wright is better. Great defensive performances from Skippy until he had to limp off (dirty Northern bast**ds), Macca, and Bodin. Hunter just couldn't pass the thing but put in some great tackles. Gooding was his usual self. But the entire forward line was the best bit.
The reason we were so effective can be put right down to the forward line - 4 forwards with 3 extremely nippy ones willing to take people on. Nogan looked up to it again with two brilliant goals coming from brilliant runs and his positioning. Lambert was amazing again with his running all over the field and incredible skill with the ball to pass players and then lay the ball perfectly onwards. Gilkes' pace was blinding. I've seen thousands of his runs down the pitch but every time it happens I still can't believe it. Morley definately played his part as well. With this combination up front we actually looked really dangerous! This is the Reading I want to see. Hopefully 3 points away at Oldham on Saturday and the continuation of our push up the table!
Hob Nob Anyone? Men of the Match: Wright, Lambert, Gilkes, Nogan