21 October 1998
Reading 1 Blackpool 1
Crawford, McPherson, Primus, Casper, Brebner (Sarr), Parkinson, Caskey, McIntyre,
Now, I was going to cut and paste the Gillingham report in here. In fact I still might since the first 85 minutes were identical. The same mind-numbing tedious football you might associate with Swinedon or the Pox. Tapping it around on the ground, the odd pathetic ball from the Casket, and a complete lack of fast exciting penetrating football. Predictable dullness. Dull, dull, dull, dull, dull. I've never looked at my watch so many times in a game before, wishing the time away. But then we had those last five minutes to at least give a fair few talking points and to wake everyone up before they buggered off home.
The same team started in roughly the same way. Although the first minute was possibly the most exciting of the half when Parkie "Parkied" a suprised Blackpool centre-back on the edge of the Blackpool box. Parkie charged in, in much the same way that he charges out on the pitch as the players come out of the tunnel, robbed the defender and laid it off low to Williams legging it into the box on the right. Williams fired it low and into the side netting. There were only two other real incidents, Reading could have scored when McIntyre hit a shot from outside the box that needed a decent save, and Blackpool could have gone in one-up too. Blackpool's effort was a nice chip into the box from the middle, a half decent diving header inside the area, but thankfully a decent save from Howie in the Reading goal.
Blackpool picked up a couple of rather tame bookings. A la Gillingham, Blackpool had come for the draw. 0-0 would have suited them fine. We were all too happy to adopt what they wanted. And so once again it was slow predicatable football. Playing it left, right, forward and bit, and then ultimately backwards again. Going nowhere. This was occassionally broken up by losing the ball with a terrible hoof up field or a poor short distance pass. Caskey was picking his spot well with his passes. Only thing was that it was a spot - the exact spot on the pitch every time if a Reading player was nearby or not. Glasgow seemed to be following on from Saturday too. I like Glasgow, but unfortunately he has a shit first half. Brebner... oh dear. Rumour has it he was carrying an injury. Lets hope so for his sake. Why is the dynamic football he was playing earlier this season? Williams. Yet again he got on badly with the referee after an early dive or two.
So half time. At last. And the second half started the same. The game was dying out for someone to inject some excitement into it. Everyone seemed to be holding back. No a single hooped shirted player was willing to run at a player, attempt to go past someone, or do anything approaching entertaining. It was reassuring to at last see Glasgow have one half decent run. But it's almost like he's too scared to all of a sudden. We miss the Taylors, Gilkseys, Lamberts, even bloody Meakers of times past. The game marginally improved with the introduction of Sarr for Grant "yawn" Brebner half way through the second half.
As the game crept towards a 0-0 conclusion once again there were just a handful of real chances that had been created. Parkie had a decent shot from outside the area that needed saving, and Williams could have sneaked in at the far post after a cross from the left found a defender that didn't seem to notice Williams existed (maybe he thought Skittles had gone down again). Gillingham should taken the lead after their left winger totally outpaced a clearly knackered Crawford and delivered a cross in front of their number 7. His bullet header flew wide of Howie's right post.
A definate 0-0 with five minutes remaining. Then just as I was dropping off Williams drove one home from way outside the area. That's the way it happened. From nothing. Nothing at all. A potential goal of the season. An amazing goal from nowhere. Oh YES. Martin, you can fall over as many times in a game as you like if you're going to pop ones in like that. He turned and let off a blistering volley that flew into the top right corner of the Blackpool net. A miracle. 1-0 to the Royals. What a goal. Massive relief across the East Stand - just when fans were really going to start getting at the team. Phew.
But it wasn't over yet. With the game slipping into injury time Blackpool won a throw level with the edge of the box on the Blackpool left. Casper picked it up, held onto it, and started to walk off. I don't know, these professional footballers, eh? Pretty standard time wasting stuff that everyone does all of the time. You'll be rolling that ball back out now so they can take their throw. Oh OK, hang onto it a little bit longer. Better let go now then, since you have a yellow card already Casper me old mate. That's it. But it was probably a second or two too long. And without so much as a warning the ref marched over pulled out the second yellow, then the red, and Casper walked off to a standing ovation for some reason. Not the best refeering but Casper should have known better. A few seconds later the ball comes over from the left to find an unmarked player on the edge of the box on the right. A big gap in the defence. The low shot came in, hit the foot of Howie's left post and was in. SHIT. 1-1.
Gutted. But we'd been shit. It was always going to be 0-0, except when it wasn't. If you see what I mean. Such an amazing goal from Williams deserved to win us the game. But the performance as a whole like that should never deserve three points.
And the scoreboard wasn't working.
Despite everything I have to say thank God for the defence. Burns seems to have sorted it. Primus was back to his wall-like self tonight - following on from a great game against Gillingham. Casper has everything well under control. And the combination of Macca, Primus and Casper is a winner (or a drawer anyway) - we win everything in the air. Tonight I actually saw a Blackpool player leg it towards Primus, get scared, and actually let it away with the ball. Amazing stuff. It would have worked even better if Casper hadn't gone and got himself sent off too.
There's still that one bright point to make too, here at the end, in the last line: we're still unbeaten at the Mad House. Shame the next two games are away then.