20 August 1996 (Coca-Cola Cup Round One Leg One)
READING 1 Wycombe Wanderers 1
Att: 6,210

Team: Mihaylov, Booty, Bodin, Bernal, Hunter, Wdowczyk, Williams, Caskey, Quinn, Lovell, Gooding. Subs: Nogan, Gilkes (not used), Parkie.

This was one of those frustrating Royal's performances. Reading controlled the whole game and there was only one team in it. Not that thats taking anything away from Wycombe who came for the draw and got the result they wanted much to the delight of their travelling support. Reading had about 80 percent of the posession - if not more. But while the passing was nothing short of excellent the forward play was almost non-existant. Jim and Mick will be wondering just how they managed to let victory slip away.

Reading started how they were going to continue - strongly but showing an obvious problem up front. The build up play was fantastic with the Royals dominating the pitch, finding room, playing huge strings of passes into space, but not really penetrating. The gulf between the first and second division seemed pretty big. The passing, however great, just didn't produce as many clear cut scoring chances as you would expect. Thats not saying we didn't have a couple of chances.

In the first half Reading had a number of shots. Firstly Caskey tried a long range effort that was well off target, then Dariusz had a mega-effort that would have been a beautiful goal. He took the ball just inside the Wycombe half, strode forward and unleashed a mighty drive that just went over the cross bar. I'm glad I wasn't stood in the Tilehurst end. The other main chance of the half came to Archie. Williams played a great cross into the middle where Archie found it just right of centre and hit it first time with a mega-volley. Unfortunately he couldn't keep it down and it flew over the bar.

Wycombe, in reply, had a couple of attempts on goal but Bobby came well. In the second half he was forced to make one close range save from a header on the far post but his involvement was limited.

Reading's tactic for the second half was simple: 1. Get the ball. 2. Get Tooty Frooty to leg it down the right and find himself in acres of space. 3. Pass the pass to Booty. 4. Get Booty to leg it down the line and play in a great cross. 5. Let the ball pass harmlessly across the face of the goal. Amazing. This cunning little tactic was executed about 50 zillion times to very little effect. It was obviously never going to work. The Wycombe defenders were huge, and I mean huge! And in the center we had 8 foot giant Archie. Every time the ball was too high or easy for their central defenders. Quinn was the only one lanky enough to get a scoring chance. Which he thankfully did on 57 minutes.

Reading's goal came a corner on the right. The ball was flicked back to the mighty Quinn who powered the ball into the back of the net to give the Royals a deserved 1-0 lead. The equaliser for Wycombe came in the only way it could have come - from a Reading cock-up on 65 minutes. It happened in the cruelest way to Dariusz who was quite simply having a blinding game. Wdowczyk oozed international class all over the pitch (and the groundsman had to clear it up later), his passing was spot on, his tackling was spot on. Everything went brilliantly for little Dariusz until the 65th minutes when bringing the ball forward as the last defender he... trod on the ball and took a trip. Leaving the Wycombe forward with a clear run on goal.

The Wycombe forward took it brilliantly and, with Gooding on his tail, took it slighly wide to the right, into the box, and drove the ball into the Reading net. 1-1. Bugger. Reading froze for the next 5 minutes allowing Wycombe to have their best period of the game before we started playing again. The only problem was in our attempts to grab the winner we resorted to the tactic described earlier.

I hate to say it but when Quinn went off so did our goal scoring chance. If we had tried to work it through the middle occassionaly it might have been a different story. But we didn't! Nogan came on to join Archie but did nothing. Parkie replaced Williams when I had hoped Gilkes came on. Scareily it was Andy 'Internet Royals Sponsored' Bernal who came perhaps the closest to getting another Reading goal. Skippy found himself in the box on the right and after realizing the lack of a passing option had a go himself - but the keeper saved.

Dariusz, Gooding, Bernal, and Caskey all had great passing games. They made us look classy with some great balls. Meanwhile Hunter supplied the tackle. (ho-ho!) But in doing so they helped expose how inadequate we are up front. I can't see us scoring more than a goal in a game if we carry on like this. But thankfully I can't ever see us letting many in. Could be in for a lot of goaless draws then! If the return leg is the same we should wrap it up and move on into the next round, but then again Wycombe have the away goal advantage!


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