21 November 1998
Northampton 0 Reading 1
Glasgow, Clement, Primus, Casper, Brebner (McPherson), Parkinson, Caskey, Sarr
(McIntyre), Williams (Brayson), Roach.
GOAL: Brebner Makes it 1-0
Reading recovered from two straight home defeats, with a medium amount of style at Northampton on Saturday, to make it 4 straight away wins back to back. And very satisfying it was too to see a hard worked deserved victory against a team that had only lost at home once before this season. Ok, so Northampton were a bit shit, but Reading controlled the game and probably should have won by at least two if Sarr had had a bit more luck.
Reading could probably learn a thing or two from Northampton - whose facilities made for a pleasant away trip. The ground was a piece of piss to find nice and quickly from the main route into Northampton, the car park was right next to the ground with thousands of spaces for absolutely free, and once inside the food seemed ridiculously cheap after eating at the Mad House. Everything on the menu, hot dogs, pies, pasties, were all 1 pound 40 - almost half the price of Readings equivalent - and the pasty was bloody tasty too. Sixfields itself was a decent enough ground despite three of the four stands only being 10 rows of seats deep. Another ground with no leg room that shows we're spoilt at home.
The most obvious changes to the starting line-up were the inclusions of new Chelsea loanee Clement and Roach making a start. Macca was relegated to the bench with Clement making a start on the left hand side of the centre of defence - not where I'd expected him to start but he quickly fitted into the role. Sarr made a start in the middle with Roach playing wide on the right. Glasgow seemed to be playing an out and out midfield role at the start.
Unfortunately the first half was pretty much a non-event. Very very dull again and all too similar to first halves that we've seen at Reading recently. Having said that Reading were well on top. We had all the possession but were just taking it slow and not really creating chances. Still, seeing us calmly passing the ball on the floor all around the park away from home must be a good sign. Northampton looked like the away side as they let Reading stroke it around without really making any attempt to win the ball back. Still the more game went on the more it was looking like it was going to be 0-0.
The scariest bit of the first half for the sold out away end behind the goal was once again a Howie cock-up. He came steaming out of his area to the right when he really shouldn't have bothered to palm away an attack. The ball went straight back to a Town player with Howie stranded. Fortunately Reading had players back in force and they were unable to get the ball across quick enough. Down the other end Sarr had Reading's best chance and really should have put the R's ahead. With the ball played to him outside the area but in the middle of the park he let off a first time effort, when he really should have controlled it before letting loose with the shot, as a result the ball didn't even hit the corner flag - it went out for a throw on the right. Sarr had another decent effort charged down by the Town defence, while Williams almost scored for the R's. Williams had half the away end celebrating a goal before we realised that his rebound shot that found the net had been offside about five minutes ago.
The highlight of the first half was definately the small section of Reading fans on the right hand side who spent the whole first half singing at some confused Northampton Town steward (also known as the twat with the silly hat) stood in front of us wearing a hat with the word "Ronhill" down each side. Good job Reading didn't score because I wouldn't have seen it as I was laughing so much my eyes were watering like mad. Bloody funny. Fantastic stuff. When he had a minder turn up to bring on a load of more songs I was in stitches. Thanks to all those people - you made the first half entertaining when the stuff on the pitch really wasn't.
Ron Hill disappeared at the start of the half - so it was a good job the football seriously improved to keep me entertained for the rest of the game. Reading came straight at Northampton as soon as the second half got underway - making the most of all the possession we'd had in the first half but adding chances onto the end of all the decent passing stuff. Excellent. Sarr again almost put Reading ahead with a spectacular shot from the left of goal just inside the box. If he'd have scored it, it would have been goal of the season. With a cross between an overhead kick and scissor kick with his body high in the air, he made perfect contact, but it went just wide of the keepers right hand post. Sarr next turned provider. He worked his way down the left and put over a perfect cross to Williams on the edge of the six yard box. Williams couldn't keep the header down as it flew over the bar from close range.
Reading did take the lead when Brebner took a leaf out of Sarr's book with a fantastic scissor kick from almost the same place on the pitch. The ball was played in from the right, Williams completely mis-hit the thing but it came out to Brebner who hit it first time into the back of the net. YES! 1-0 to the Royals.
Now the best bit of the game. Instead of sitting back on the single goal advantage Reading came even more at the home team. Perhaps we've learned our lesson a bit. So many times we've let the single goal slip by turning our game defensive and going to sleep - but against Northampton we seemed determined not to let it happen. It was all Reading. Reading won loads of corners on the left. And every one was made very, very dangerous by Darren Caskey. Caskey's corners were exceptional. Swinging out and then back in - just far enough from the keeper at rocket speed, but in the right place for Reading's forward line as we pushed forward. Parkie almost got one in but connected with the keeper rather than the ball.
Sarr must be wondering what he's going to have to do to score for the Royals. He continued a great performance by almost putting the R's two goals up - again. This time he connected well with one of Caskey's corners to put the ball onto the top of the crossbar as the rebound came back out his second effort was well saved by the Northampton keeper. Caskey almost scored with a great free-kick that flew just over the bar. And had Roach's shot been half decent he'd have added a goal. After weaving past two or three defenders on the right he put in a weak low shot straight to the keeper.
It wasn't all one way traffic though. Just before Reading took the lead it had been end to end stuff, and towards the end of the game the home side threatened to make it 1-1. Two decent shots would have been a whole lot better if they hadn't been directed quite so close to Howie. As it was Howie ended up making two great saves getting down well to hold fairly powerful shots. They almost sneaked in one towards the end with a terrific long range diagonal shot that dipped just over the bar.
However, a Reading victory, was definately the fair result. Although the first half was a bit dull Reading had controlled it, and for the second half Reading stepped up a gear to make the chances. The only down point of the afternoon was Brenber being stretchered off in the second half - lets hope it's not too serious as he's proved himself to be a key member of the team.
Clement impressed. He had a great second half and always looked solid. I can't understand why he was described as a wing-back though - he seemed nothing but a central defender (do we need more of these?). He was very one footed (left) and his ball control wasn't brilliant. His positioning was great, passing excellent, and determination spot on. A good debut. Sarr continues to improve - he really deserved to score. All round though it was a decent team performance - lets hope we build from this.