Match Report vs Birmingham City

23 August 1997 (League Division One)


Team: Mautone, Booty, Swales (Bodin), Wdowczyk, McPherson, Primus, Bernal, Houghton, Asaba, Hodges (Roach), Lambert.

Sent Off: Andy Bernal (second bookable)

Bollocks again from the Royals.
Entirely outplayed, and lucky to only go down by the three goals.

Here's a report from Nick Beckett:

Royals were robbed of a possible point by a pathetic refereeing decision which saw Andy Bernal sent off at a time that Reading were beginning to dominate and actually string a few passes together.

Midway through the second half, Skippy made a brave diving header, I think to dispossess Ndlove who always looked dangerous, and despite the fact he made a clean contact with the ball, the ref showed him his second yellow card of the game - thereby despatching him to the changing rooms. After that it was all over as a game of football, Birmingham adding two further goals to their first half opener, and we were perhaps lucky that it wasn't more.

Reading started badly enough. Our first half display was every bit as bad, if not worse, than last week. Every time we got the ball we seemed to pass direct to a Birmingham forward. Bernal showed determination but lacked pace against Ndlove. Swales and Hodges again looked out of their depth. We showed no ideas coming forward. Despite this we could have taken the lead when an overhead lob from Asaba went just past the post with the keeper stranded.

Birmingham took the lead when Primus failed to pass quickly enough back to Mautone, and their no 10 nipped in to slide the ball into the net - stupid goal to give away - particularly as it looked like we might go in level at half time despite a particular inept display. Everyone seemed to want too long on the ball.

The start of the second half saw Bodin on for Swales and an immediate improvement. Bodin worked the ball down the left on a number of occasions and Reading's passing improved dramatically, although we still seemed to give the ball away far too easy in situations where we put ourselves under immediate pressure.

Roach came on for Darius, who was injured in the first half. Hopefully he wont be out for the rest of the season.

Booty impressed and on the occasions where Asaba got the ball on the ground he showed the skill beat defenders. However, with Ablett and Bruce in central defence Birmingham looked solid at the back. We failed to put one effort on target during the whole game, although Hodges should have scored when he headed Lambert's cross wide of the post - I hate to say it but Quinn would have buried it 9 times out of 10.

By now, we were dominant and Birmingham looked either disinterested or content with a 1-0 lead. Even after the dismissal of Bernal we still looked the better team for a while. However, when the inevitable happened and we gave the ball away once too often, Birmingham took a 2-0 lead from a header by Bruce and Ndlove added a third ten minutes from time.

I'd say that on this form we look relegation material although in the first 20 minutes of the second half we did show some promise. But there's no point playing a passing game if your players can't pass.

Mautone was oustanding throughout. Houghton didn't have that much of an impression on the game and Lambert was pretty quiet.

Next week Bradford. That's 3 points on paper. Let's hope it's 3 points on grass also or it's time to start getting a bit concerned.

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