24 October 1998
Man City 0 Reading 1
Bernal, McPherson, Parkinson, Primus, Casper, Glasgow, Caskey, williams, Sarr,
SUBS: Brayson (for Sarr), Kromheer and Booty (not used)
I don't care that they had ten men, or that City were the most inept side I have seen for a long time, the Reading team deserves full credit for a hardfought win, with the 1-0 scoreline flattering City.
It all started less than comfortably, though. City forced a succession of corners, pinning Reading into their own half. A shot from range from Wiekens thundered off the upright. From then on, it was (more or less) plain sailing for the Royals. Our cause was helped on twenty minutes by the sending off of City's Danny Tiatto. As he attempted to reach a wayward centre, he felt that he was being impeded by Glasgow, and began to shove the little man. Howie collected the cross, and as Byron turned to restart play, he received a shove full in the face from the bitchy Tiatto. We know that if you raise your hands on a football pitch you are looking for trouble, and referee Richards duly dismissed Tiatto.
Byron was yellow carded for what seemed little more than an attempt at self-defence. The City fans, however, saw Glasgow as the villain of the peace, and his every touch was roundly booed. Byron was in a different class. He would never have experienced an 'atmosphere' like that in his (short) career, yet he played with great maturity (are you listening, Lambert) and it would have been so sweet had the first half shot not been saved by Weaver. Full credit to Parky, as well. Reading began to dominate the moment that Parky took control of the midfield, with excellent distribution coupled to his ball winning.
Half time, the scoresheet was blank, but we were beginning to impose ourselves on the game. It took Reading just ten minutes to get the opening and decisive goal. Williams was inexplicably unmarked on the near post, and managed to get a backheel past Weaver and into the net, following Caskey's corner. The 700-strong Reading contingent went bananas, as for once the intimidating Moss-siders were silenced. So it came to pass that Reading were barely threatened much after this. Brebner had a shot well saved, Williams miskicked in front of goal, and Sarr failed to even get a shot in when clean through.
Substitute Paul Brayson almost scored the goal of the season when picking the ball up on halfway, and jinking around several players into the box. His touch let him down. In response, City had a header from Horlock that dipped narrowly over. They had plenty of posession in the latter stages, but failed to hurt us with it. A great day all round, my highlight being the Reading fan who sang "Come on you Royals" in a falsetto operatic-type-voice at great volume! The reaction from the City fans was absolutely fantastic. My hat is well and truly raised to you, Sir! I have rarely seen a more 'animated' bunch of supporters than those sat on the other side of the (narrow) North Stand divide. Superb! The Oxford fan, who leaned out of his Moss Side Skylight at the game's conclusion, was also very funny. He wore his yucky yellow shirt in an obvious attempt to get noticed by Royals fans. Once spotted, his eyes lit up, and he disappeared off for one moment, to retreive his collection of Oxford scarves and banners!
There is still one worry though. The defence is looking quite solid at the moment (thankyou Chris Casper) and Parky's return has bolstered the midfield. Williams, however, (goal aside) struggled badly on Saturday, with Sarr out of sorts. We desperately need a tall out-an-out centre-forward who can hold up the ball, asap.