19 September 1998
Reading 1 Colchester Utd 1
Hammond, Booty, McPherson, Brebner(Crawford), Primus, Casper, Glasgow, Caskey(Reilly), Williams, Gray, Sarr(Brayson).
Mass Sarr (for his involvement in the goal..)
All is not well at Reading. We were probably even worse than the 1-1 home draw against Colchester United suggests. Anyone looking at the results in their Sunday paper will see a late equaliser and think Reading were possibly hard done by. Like bollocks. Colchester should feel unfortunate not to take all three points after another depressingly poor performance by the Royals.
Even worse is that it was all predicable enough. We'd all seen exactly the same against Burnley in the last home League game. This was the same again. We took an early lead and sat on it. Colchester took control of the game and outplayed us all over the place but failed to find the net. Reading were all too content to settle for 1-0 when it was clearly never going to be enough to overturn a determined away side. Eventually the equaliser came but it only ever going to be a matter of time. We needed eleven Parkies out there - we needed effort and passion. There was none today - everyone was taking it far too easy. No crunching tackles and no pushing forward. I'd have been quite happy to have let in 3 if we'd have scored the same or more. I'd have been quite happy to get a player or two sent off- at least it would have shown desire.
Reading started with another slightly strange formation with seemingly three at the back (with Casper on-loan from Manchester United making his debut in the centre of defence), five in midfield (Booy and Gray as wingers), and two up front (Williams and Sarr). I don't think Booty or Gray ever made their mind up exactly where, or how, to play.
Once again it all started brightly enough before plumeting downhill. Reading were by far the greatest team for the opening 20 minutes or so. Williams should have put Reading ahead after just five minutes. A Booty cross from the right found Williams sliding in wide but failing to connect. Reading did take the lead after quarter of an hour. An act of sheer brilliance by God himself (Mass Sarr that is) was enough to set it up. A long diagonal ball from right to left found Sarr on the left wing. Sarr controlled it on one foot, bought it down, confusing the hell out of the full-back, and crossed low to Williams in the centre around the six-yard line. Williams slid in, and this time made no mistake. 1-0 to the Royals. A great goal. Now READING SHOULD HAVE BUILT ON THIS. But that was it. 1-0. We all should have gone home then.
Colchester should have pulled level by half time. A brilliant free kick on the left just outside the box pounded against the Reading crossbar and dropped to their number nine a few feet from goal. Thank God their number nine was so shite and failed to connect properly with the ball to put it in the empty net. And moments later a point blank save from Nicky Hammond kept the scores level at half time. Reading's only resistance a great shot from Gray that was tipped over by the keeper.
Reading continued to gift Colchester chances after the break. A couple of ridiculously short backpasses found Hammond rushing out three or four times. Any one of those they could have put in. Once Hammond came racing out a quarter of the pitch trying to take on the Colchester winger. The United player beat Hammond and lobbed the ball in. I'm not sure if it was a cross or shot, but it was, thankfully, complete shite. Moments later Hammond somehow managed to get back and fling his body in the way after racing out to make an attempted clearance. When will we learn not to backpass all the time??
With the game creeping towards a close I was stupid enough to think we might hang on. But then the goal game. A corner from the right after no attempt to clear the ball. The corner game in, no-one bothered clearing it, a scramble ensured and the ball was tapped in from a foot out. 1-1.
Ok, we should have had a penalty towards the end when Byron was pushed down in the box. And yes Booty almost sneaked a goal in at the post but the defender got in the way. And yes, Gray hit the bar with a long range effort. But if I mentioned those we might have sounded good and worth the win. And we weren't.
No-one was great today. But I think we have the players (a few excluded). The problem today was that we didn't work together properly, except moments in the first half. The other problem is the lack of desire shown on the pitch today. Hammond was below his best form, as was Booty and Gray. Sarr is too good for Reading. Casper made an impressive debut but Macca and Primus were guilty of some terrible mistakes. Williams and Sarr look like a great potential partnership in front. We have the makings: but Burns is having massive problems making it all work.
Say goodbye to promotion or the play-offs. Lets just make sure we don't go down.