Anyone claiming there are no easy games in this division were clearly proved wrong today. Crewe looked as if they were beaten from the start as they left huge gaps in their defence, surrendered in midfield, and looked toothless in attack. Having said that Reading turned in another promotion quality performance, and rattled in four goals. There could have been more, but there was a vast improvement in the quality of the finishing from Tuesday night.
The Royals dominated from the kick-off and with Crewe looking vulnerable, goals seemed inevitable. Sidwell provided the first when he was allowed the time and space outside the box to set himself up for a well placed strike low into the corner of the net. Four minutes later Kitson added a second. We have seen some very skilful play from him this season, but this finish was all about strength and determination. He ran onto a through ball, fought off a persistent challenge, tussled with the 'keeper and eventually, when the ball popped up, he deflected it into the empty net. There was hint of a reaction from Crewe but they could make very little impression on the Reading defence. Owusu had a chance to make it three when Kitson held the ball up superbly and rolled it to him in the area but his effort never looked like hitting the target. He made amends on the stroke of half time.This time the move was started by Hahmnemann's great ball up the left side into the path of Hughes, who took the ball on before curling a ball temptingly into the box. It seemed the entire Reading team were surging forward to get on the end of the cross, but it was Owusu who met it with a powerful and well-directed header which gave the Crewe 'keeper no chance.
Two minutes into the second half Owusu was fouled. Little caught Crewe napping with a carefully flighted free kick which Ingimarsson headed back across goal and into the net. Any feint chance of a Crewe comeback had completely disappeared. From that point on my only real excitement came from the fact that I had a 50-1 bet on a 5-1 victory for Reading!
Although there was no further scoring there was more entertainment to come.
Kitson indulged in a bit of showboating on the half way line, dancing through a ruck of Crewe players, he was halted by a crude challenge from Cochrane, who had already been booked. It must have been sympathy (or was it
incompetance?) that prevented the referee from sending him off. Dario Gradi sensibly immediately substituted the midfielder. Later Kitson was uncharacteristically let down by a heavy first touch which just gave the 'keeper the edge in a 1 v 1 encounter, Ingimarsson almost got on the scoresheet for Crewe when he deflected a cross onto his own post, and Morgan forced another save out of Williams near the end.
Coppell used the last quarter of the game to give Brooker, Convey and Morgan a run out in place of Little, Hughes and Kitson. They all looked hungry for the ball and eager to stake a claim for place in the side, but it was an easy game to come into because Crewe had already thrown the towel in.
Success always generates greater competition for places which in turn keeps players on their toes. Adie Williams is going to find it hard to dislodge Sonko who was superb today, Owusu has now scored two in two games, and Brooker and Convey are going to be pressing for a starting place over the next few games at every opportunity. The team is looking strong and confident throughout at the moment. I am sure Coppell will keep his squad focused on the quality of their play and winning games, and not be talking too much about the league table and the performances of other teams.
Report by John Wells