Team: Hammond, Swales, Macca, Primus, Bernal (Booty), Houghton,
Caskey (Hodges), Parky, Williams, Morley, Asaba.
Sub (not used): Roach
There's a report below, although I'm not entirely sure I agree with the opinion. Anyone who reads my reports will know I'm not usually known to compliment the other team, but I thought Ipswich were actually pretty good. Yep, we were total shite, but Ipswich were one of the better sides to have visited Elm Park this season. Everything we were doing wrong they were doing right - they had the speed and the on-the-floor flowing passing. So they rightly scored the goals and we didn't. The fourth goal just a few minutes before the final whistle summed it up - a beautiful passing move with a great low cross from the right, and a clinical finish. OK, the first two goals were a bit shit, and Hammond made some fatal mistakes but it's hard to argue with the result after the way we were played off the park. Also, I thought the referee was OK, miles better than some of the refeering I've seen at Elm Park this season. Quite how an indentical line-up to the side that beat Leeds 3-2 mid-week at Elland Road managed to play this badly is beyond me.
Here the report from P. Jones:
A dreadful game. The scoreline conjures up visions of a rampant Ipswich walking all over a suppine Reading team, but, like the Sunderland game a couple of months ago, the scoreline is misleading.
A heavy downpour a short time before kick-off meant that the pitch was extremely slippery and led to a game riddled with mistakes, with about one in every three passes going astray. This didn't bother Ipswich, as they made no attempt to play football, just sat back and employed spoiling tactics- holding, shirt pulling, trips, judo throws. Virtually all of these escaped unpunished, and the crowd gave up shouting for fouls and off-side calls, as it was quite clear that the referee fully intended to give the home team f**k all. Martin Williams in particular seemed to suffer, but, to his credit he persevered.
The first two Ipswich goals were almost identical- a mis-hit shot on the edge of the box, several defelections, then the ball crawling agonisingly over the line as poor old Nicky Hammond lay watching helplessly, having committed to the direction of the third or fourth deflection in his dive.
At 2-0 down, Reading had what looked like a good goal ruled out for off-side. I can't comment on the off-side, as I was right at the other end of the South Bank, but the crowd didn't complain too much. Good build up play though. Morley had a good curling shot from the edge of the box when the Ipswich defence inexplicably stood off him. It looked destined for the top corner, but took a deflection off an Ipswich defender to go behind for a goal kick. Asaba also came close with a good break and a shot into the side netting, which much of the crowd (myself included) thought was in.
Reading kept pressing throughout the game, but attack after attack kept fizzling out due to passes falling short of their intended destination or unpenalised Ipswich foul play. Ipswich could afford to wait for a mistake to break, and they did just that when an unpressured Primus mis-controlled the ball, and passed it straight to David "million quid" Johnson, who hared towards goal. The Reading defence was caught flat-footed, and Ipswich made good use of the element of surprise and their numeric advatage to make it three. I didn't even see their fourth goal, as I was debating with my mate whether to leave before the final whistle, so my head was turned away, but, frankly, who cared by then?
It was no surprise that Bully stuck with the team that overcame Leeds in the week, but Sat'day was a very different game, and we certainly could have done with an extra man in midfield. The decision to pull Caskey off was greeted with cheers, as his contribution had been limited to short negative passes, but, whilst I feel Hodges should definitely have come on (but sooner!), I think that Morley should have come off and we should have switched to 4-4-2, as our best chance of scoring against a large, and dirty, Ipswich defence looked like being Asaba bursting through their off-side trap from deep, given that penalties clearly weren't an option.
So, we now enter a daunting run of fixtures just one point and one place above a drop spot. A bizarre scenario, when you consider how well we've played for much of the last two months. Still, given the contrary nature of Reading's results, we'll probably pull off wins away at promotion chasing types like Muddlesborough, even though we provide a very uninspiring Ipswich team with their first league away win of the season. Here's hoping.