COLCHESTER UTD 3 READING 2 Attendance: 3,443
Scorers: Forster, Williams Date: 28 August 1999
Team: Team: Howie, Gray, Hunter, Casper, Bernal, Smith, Grant, Caskey, Haddow, Williams, Forster.
Subs: Scott (for Forster), Evers (for Haddow), McIntyre (for Evers), Primus, V.D. Kwaak
Audio: Nope / Not yet Match Hero:

An unchanged line-up from the Reading side that beat Peterborough mid-week in the Worthington Cup first round, threw away three points up at Colchester. Reading once again kicked off with the seemingly more successful 4-4-2 formation with Williams and Forster (making his first league start for the Royals) up front. With 70 minutes gone it looked like it could well be good enough for another 2-1 away victory - but Reading's ability to lose all concentration and game plan and combine it with woeful defending after scoring cost the points.

Reading had the better of the first half and were unlucky to go in level after the home side scored an equaliser into first half stoppage time. Caskey could have twice given Reading the lead within the first 20 minutes. A typical long distance Caskey free kick went off the crossbar and a second shot was shot wide. Reading did take the lead on 22 minutes when a Bernal cross from the right found an unmarked Forster in the middle. Forster made no mistake with his header just outside the six yard box and powered the ball into the back of the net for his first Reading goal to make it 1-0. The equaliser came just before the half time whistle - the ball was played out from the centre of the pitch wide, the ball was nodded into the area and the shot driven in with Howie getting a hand to it but being unable to keep it out.

After half time Reading calmed it down a bit and looked the better side. Williams really should have put Reading in front with a couple of chances. Caskey provided the pass into the box, but Williams fired wide. Moments later after a Colchester attack Reading took it down the other end and a low cross again found Williams, but his shot was scooped over the bar from not far out. Eventually, about 10 minutes into the second half, Williams did restore Reading's lead. As a high ball was played deep into the Colchester half, Williams made the most of a defensive mistake to steal the ball and leave just the keeper to beat. With the keeper coming out Williams chipped the ball over the keeper's head into the back of the net. 2-1 to the Royals, and Reading looking good for the lead and the resulting three points.

As soon as we'd taken the lead again Colchester United again stepped up the pace and took it down the Reading end and almost equalised. A shot found the inside of the post and span right across the Reading goal-line before being hacked to safety. The resulting corner found the Reading defence beaten but the header well over the bar.

With about 15 minutes left Reading made changes up front with Scott coming on in place of Forster (who had had an impressive game). Scott made an impact a couple of minutes later with a shot just over the bar. However that was the end of the good news. First Evers went off injured yet again - not long after coming on as a substitute in place of the young Hadow, and then Reading stopped coming forward and the game turned more and more Colchester's way.

With a bit more than 10 minutes left Colchester United made it 2-2. In possession just inside the Reading half it didn't look like there was any danger. However then the Colchester player just walked through the defence, one by one before getting to the edge of the box and with no resistance from our defence taking a shot. The shot was saved, the rebound was prodded home to draw the game level. Pathetic defending.

For the last five minutes Reading had everyone behind the ball clinging to the draw. It was probably inevitable then that once again - like we did so many times last season - we'd through it all away right at the end. This time it took Keith Scott to gift Colchester two extra points after the ball struck the ball inside the area when Howie failed to come out to collect. With just over a minute left on the clock the resulting penalty was stuck in the back of the net. 2-3, and another league defeat for the Royals.

Why is it that we always attempt to hang to narrow leads only to throw it all away? It's happened countless times. Is there something in Burns' contract that means he gets fined if we win by more than a single goal or something. The best form of defence is attack. When we take the lead we stop playing - we stop looking for the goal that will seal it - instead we just sit back and everyone waits for the inevitable.

Three defeats from four league games is not going to secure your job Tommy. We have the players, we have the stadium, but something is still not working. This season is shaping up exactly the same as last, with the Royals 21st in the table. Already we're making it very hard for ourselves.