Well I wasn't one of the 85 away fans who made the long trip up North to watch another disappointing Reading long-ball lack of shooting type performance. There's a load of reports below though...
This first report is by Phil Newton and was passed on by Jon Sutton... Cheers guys!
I went to the Bradford game, paid my thirteen quid (!!) after having to ask directions at a garage (well signposted from the M606? the signs must have been in Bradfordlanguage). Anyway we had to bribe a car park attendant to let us park and we were still late. I thought the kickoff must have been delayed as we wandered round the back of the stand cos there was no noise, but no, it had started, there was just no singing whatsoever.
The first half was quite even, and fairly dull; they had the best chances but their tame headers went into the arms of Tommy Wright Wright Wright. Up the other end all our small players had shots (Gilkes, Swales, Morley, Archie) and they were all shite. Chris Waddle was far far too good for Bradford, who, it became apparent, were very bad. The only problem with that was that at times we looked worse. Anyway we were loads better in the second half we passed it around quite well, except we always went across the pitch rather that up it. Although I love the 3-5-2 to bits, it does depend on having quality wing backs, and although Swales/Bodin put in a lot of effort, McAteer and Bjornebye they aint. Having said that Swales was a lot better (& quicker) than I'd expected, I think his problem is that, like Morley, he looks like a refugee from the under-9's half time penalty shoot out when he run's full pelt, and thus gives the impression of being very slow.
Anyway, our best early chance of the 2nd half was when Gilkes did his "just enough running to stay on the pitch" bit, but with half the R's waiting in the box he did too much jinxing and the cross was shite. Unfortunately this was right in front of us, and he got a fair bit of abuse which seemed to distress the little man cos every time he got within range he let fly with a Gilkesy-spoon-special, which we know were aimed at us (in the top tier)'cos they always got close, but he still managed to fool the rest of the team into thinking he was taking a shot. Isn't he clever? Anyways we got better and better, ChriswaddleFC got worse and worse as said penalty-hero got lazy, although one of his corners did bounce off the cross-bar but since it was in the fog up the other end we weren't too bothered. With 25 minutes to go, Martin Williams Martin Williams, who had been looking more and more like a fish as the game wore on, decided to increase the already impressive form of his dreads and took the game by the scruff of the neck.
All our best moves had been coming thru him, and he was fuckin' excellent in the last quarter, working like a bastard, always playing intelligent balls, geting back and tackling. The game took on a steady pattern: Badford hoof it upfield bing-bing-bing attack flounders on the head/legs of the excellent Keith "BA Baracus" McPherson, bing-bing-bing get it to Martin Williams Martin Williams jinxy-jinxy-jinxy Gilkes gets thru and blast's it at the unfortunate Reading fans. We looked even better when James small boy Lambert came on for the last 15, BUT WE NEED A STRIKER. Morley and Archie did some of the bing-bing bits but they're no Asprilla/Shearer/Charlie Nicholas/Paul Mariner.
Now here's Jon Hanford's report...
City moved off the bottom off the first division after a goalless draw but they will regard this as two points lost. They created most of the chances but their strikers looked out of touch.
On-loan Swedish striker Robert Steiner could do little more than head the ball over the crossbar at full stretch from a Wayne Jacobs cross after 13 minutes and he completely mis-kicked on the edge of the box after 57 minutes after Norwegian international striker Ole Bjorn Sundgot laid on the chance.
Former England international Chris Waddle did his best to inspire Bradford but he was out of luck and Reading did their best to snatch victory in the closing stages.
The visitors' most dangerous striker, Trevor Morley, saw his dipping 30-yard shot pass over the crossbar after seven minutes and then was just wide with a glancing header two minutes from the end. Bradford gave a debut to Finnish international Jari Van Hala, signed on non-contract forms yesterday, and he went on as substitute 18 minutes from the end to join City's growing number of overseas players but he had few chances to shine.
Now a report from Mike Crone who was at the game...
Firstly, the attendence. It was about 10,500 but the atmosphere was a bit weird. They have just built a new stand down one side but it is not open yet so it was completely empty. Their Kop, behind one goal, was full-to-overflowing. The other side was about half full. The away end (behind the other goal) was sparsely populated (to say the least). I wasn't sad enough to count us all but there must have been about 100-200 away fans at most. Understandable - given the distance and that it was a mid-week game - but a bit sad nonetheless.
My overall impression was that we played pretty well without ever looking that good. It was a hard earned away point which we thoroughly deserved. In the last 15 minutes it was all Reading and we looked the more likely winners. However, both sides looked what they are: mediocre teams at the wrong end of the table. They really didn't have much going for them, especially as they were the home side. Waddle was the only glimpse of real class but he was kept fairly quiet by the close attentions of Micky Gooding. The nearest either side came to scoring was in fact from Waddle. He hits a wicked in-swinging corner. He's scored directly from them more than once this season and he hit the bar and had one cleared off the line last night.
My thoughts on the Reading players:
Tommy Wright: looked fairly safe but had to have 2nd attempts at a few long range shots. You can tell the defence has confidence in him though - not like last season's assortment.
Defence: Looked pretty sound most of the game. I thought Keith Mac was as reliable and unspectacular as ever. Barry Hunter was very impressive and our only danger on set pieces. Didn't notice Skippy much. Both wing backs (Bodin and Swales) were disappointing. In that formation they must contribute more to our attacks. The quality of crossing was poor - aimless overhit high balls is no good with Archie and Morley up front against a massive centre half.
Midfield: The best feature last night. Tireless effort from both Gilkes (my man of the match) and Martin Williams (also good) and a good smattering of skill shown. Micky was 110% as usual. Lambert also quite impressive when he came on.
Forwards: lightweight! This was our major problem last night. They don't have enough presence in the box and don't give the midfield enough options. One lovely turn and pacey run in on goal by Archie, and a speculative curler and a header just over from Morley was about it.
Overall: tendency to overplay. Tried to walk it in a few times. Don't get the ball forward fast enough. By the time they've knocked it about a bit (and got nowhere) the opposition have 8-10 men behind the ball. However, I'll take the point for 0-0. Not bad.
And a report mailed by Brian Sturges pinched from SoccerNet ;-)
Reading overcame the threat posed by Chris Waddle and came away from Bradford with a goalless draw. The visitors were grateful for the vigilance of Steve Swales, who headed off the line when Waddle's first in-swinging corner threatened to break the deadlock.
With Waddle enjoying total freedom to roam, bottom club Bradford edged a contest between teams trying to pass their way out of trouble. But the home team's defending looked suspect under any sort of challenge and Reading were encouraged to raise their ambitions. Trevor Morley was liveliest for the Berkshire team, twice coming close with speculative long-range efforts.
Bradford went close with headers from Robert Steiner and Lee Duxbury. The former put his effort just over while the latter's attempt, though powerful, was placed too close to Tommy Wright. Duxbury's opportunity was created by a typical crossfield ball from Waddle, who later created danger from another stock-in-trade, the in-swinging corner.
Reading were grateful for the vigilance of Steve Swales who headed off the line. Neither keeper was seriously tested before the interval, although Wright needed two attempts to hold a stinging drive from Des Hamilton.
Waddle briefly lifted an even worse second half with another audacious corner, this time hitting the top of the bar.