Match Report vs Man City

24 February 1998 (League Division One)
READING 3 Man City 0

Att: 12,000

Team: Hammond, Booty, Bernal, Davies, Legg, Parkie, Houghton, Bowen, Williams, Asaba, Hodges (Lovell).

Men of the match: Williams and Asaba.

Blinding stuff. It was hard to imagine that this game could have happened after the disaster against Portsmouth on Saturday. Against Portsmouth we looked so unimaginative and like we'd never score in a million years. Tonight though it was completely different. Reading deserved this result and could have scored even more - they made that many chances.

The main difference from Saturday was the effort. Reading really wanted this result. Everyone in the team wanted it. The other difference and I hate to say it was leaving Trevor "God" Morley out of the starting line up. Williams who came into his place in the centre of attack, to accompany a much improved Asaba, was nothing short of fantastic. Parkie and Houghton were back on top form - Houghton creating stuff with some great distribution of the ball and Parkie was charging straight through people like only he knows how.

Satisfying. Very satisfying. And a fitting tribute to say goodbye to floodlit football at Elm Park. This will be the last ever league game to be played in the evening, unless there are some postponments later in the season. The crowd rose to the occassion - packing out Elm Park and giving the team some much needed vocal support after recent poor performances by both the team and the fans.

This was a vital result too to pull us clear away from the relegation zone. A defeat would have seen Manchester City go above us. As it is they remain rooted in the bottom three and Reading pull six points clear - way up the table in 15th. Everything seems so much better again.

At the start it looked like we were in for a fright. Almost right from the kick-off City broke clean through to be denied by a quick thinking Nicky Hammond in the Reading goal as he raced out to the edge of his area. The first fifteen minutes was frantic end to end football which ended with Reading taking the lead. A great ball found Asaba on the edge of the area. A deft touch saw Asaba turn past his marker and dash into the area. The ball flew at Tommy Wright in the City goal. Then it looked like Wright would tidy up but he fumbled it. Lee Hodges was scorching into the area and drove the ball in from the corner of the six yard box. A great start and 1-0 to the Royals.

That was the start of Reading controlling the rest of the first half. Parkie was everywhere steamrolling through people and picking up a yellow card in the process. Davies and Primus were brick walls in defence rising to clear the danger and both Williams and Asaba, yes Asaba, looked skillful and comfortable on the ball up front. It was no suprise that Asaba and Williams combined for create the second goal for Ray Houghton within the half hour. Asaba, on the left side of the City area, flipped the ball over his head with a great piece of skill. Yes, skill. He turned and met it to lay it off to Williams a few paces away. Williams backed into the defender and let it roll back out to Houghton. Houghton let fly from the edge of the area with a low rocket of a drive into the base of the net. Hougton's first goal for the Royals and Reading were cruising at two-nill up.

Parkie tried a long shot which span off a defender for the corner. And then it was half time.

Reading started the second half where they left off. Archie, who had come on for the injured Hodges just before half time, adding even more to the attack. With Archie accompanying Williams and Asaba in the middle we looked almost deadly up front. Well, far better than of recent anyway.

Houghton was gifted a chance early into the second half. He split the defence and ran straight through but appeared to panic and let off a weak shot from distance when he could have taken it closer - giving an easy save for Wright. Moments later Andy "long throw-in" Legg could have made it three. The ball came over from the right to Legg on the left just outside the six yard box. He swung at it but his low shot was well wide of the right side post.

Reading slowed the pace off a bit as the second half went on. With the game won and everyone knackered by working so hard in the first half we settled for long hoofs up the pitch and some tight defending at the back. Until a minute from half time. A ball to Asaba found him outwit his marker in the area by knocking the ball to his right and running round. Wright covered his right post. Asaba looked like he'd hit it the other side but then hit a perfect shot that sneaked in between Wright and the near post. A great strike and a well deserved goal from Asaba who'd been showing off some great touches all night. Asaba pretty much summed up the team performance - a lot more effort and a bit a skill. The kind of qualities that will ensure we stay up in Division One this season.


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