28 September 1996 (League)
Huddersfield Town 1 READING 0

Att: 10,330

Team: Mihaylov, Brown, Bodin, Bernal, Hunter, Wdowczyk, Gooding, Lambert, Williams, Nogan, Morley. Subs used: Archie, Meaker.

The really depressing thing about this game is that I was thinking what a good result it was until I realised that it wasn't. Having lost 1-6 at home last week, and being away, the best I thought we could actually hope for was a narrow defeat - and that's what we got. After all it could have been 1-6 again, especially since we were away. Predicting an away defeat for the Royals this year seems a certain bet. Six away games (one cup), and six defeats now! But it's just not good enough - losing every away game is the kind of form that is going to result in us playing Division Two football next year. Something must be done, and we all seem to know what that something is.

Interestingly there were a couple of changes to the team - and not bad changes at that. It was good to see Lambert making a start after his impressive 15 minute showing against Palace. Also Quinn played it safe and dropped himself completely. It was clear we were reverting back to our (more successful) 5 in defence - and it paid off in a way as the defence looked a whole lot more solid with our first choice back 5. It did, however, expose the same old problem - the lack of firepower we have.

The first half Huddersfield were the better team, the second half Reading tried to get a point from the game. Our only efforts from the first half were Gooding blasting it over, Lee Nogan blasting it wide, and Lambert blasting it at Reading-reject Steve Francis. Lambert looked good with a few nippy runs but it was all rather limited. The defence looked far better: Hunter was solid enough and Bernal and Wdowczyk were coming forward well - however this left us open to the break and Town's pacey forwards. Bobby was looking better in goal and saved a couple. But Reading weren't creating any real chances and left it to Huddersfield to take the lead - and the vital goal - on 34 minutes: the ball put into the roof of the net.

The second half looked slightly more promising and Reading battled looking for a point. A bright start won Reading a corner after just a minute. After ten minutes Brown had a chance. Lambert played the ball to Bodin whose cross found Brown legging it forward - his low shot was easily saved. A question: what was Brown doing forward. Where was Nogan or Morley? Huddersfield continued to look dangerous on the break and could have settled the game early in the half but Bobby saved well for Reading.

One of Reading's best chances came to Morley whose intelligent bit of play almost pulled the game level. From just inside the Town half he spotted Francis lurking well off his line and tried a huge lob. It was going in but Francis, legging it backwards, just got his hand to it to push it onto the bar. As the ball came back down Francis collected. Still a good effort. Huddersfield continued to come forward on the break and Bernal made a vital last minute tackle to prevent another going in. He lay injured for a good few minutes and, after going off, recovered to keep playing.

Again Reading almost equalised. A Bodin cross found Williams, the ball came out to Gooding who again hit it just wide. With about 15 minutes of the game remaining Reading made two substitutions that actually made sense. Williams came off and was replaced by Meaker and Nogan was replaced by Archie making a return to first team football. Williams was knackered and Nogan completely off form still and ineffective - so good replacements with some of the game still to play. It wasn't enough though and Town hung on to inflict another defeat on Reading despite a much improved performance in the second half. We've now managed to slide from 8th to 21st in the space of a few weeks. All is not well.

Bobby - Good game. Bernal - played a lively part, vital in defence and came forward well. Hunter and Wdowczyk both were solid in defence. Where we really missed out was upfront. Morley had an OK game but once again Nogan was crap. Visiting Wolves next week couldn't have come at a worse time. But maybe we'll pull a decent performance out of the bag like we tend to when it really matters. I hope.


Here's another report from Mark Firmager :

Huddersfield 1 Reading 0

Quite a few changes were made to the Reading team following the very disappointing performance a week earlier. Andy Bernal was brought back in after serving his suspension, Daruisz (God) Wdowczyk returned to the centre of defence, Gooding returned with Martin Williams and James Lambert making up a totally new midfield. Nogs replaced Quinn up front.

Reading started fairly well with Morley placing a good header into the path of Lee Nogan who was a about 10 yards out with just the keeper to beat, Nogs tried a shot to the far corner which ex-Reading Keeper Francis did well to deflect for a corner. Shortly after Martin Williams got a good header in at goal which was half cleared to the edge of the box to Micky Gooding who unleashed one of his screamers but it went flying over the bar into the Reading supporters (Who incidentally numbered about 500). Huddersfield starting playing a bit now and their No.10 Andy Peyton had a good chance to score but his shot went well over the bar. Following a bit more pressure by Huddersfield one of their players hit a cracking shot which hit the top of the bar, Bobby had it covered though ! After a bit more pressure Martin Williams managed to get the ball back and decided to try and take on about 3 of the Huddersfield players at once just in front of the Reading defence and failed. Marcus Stewart won the ball from him and played a lovely through ball to Andy Peyton who hammered a shot into the roof of the net, 1-0.

The second half started with Huddersfield looking quite content on sitting back and defending their lead with Reading pushing on in search of an equaliser which began with some good work down the right wing, Kenny Brown let fly with a shot which went straight at Francis. Next came the best bit of the game for me, Trevor Morley picked up the ball on the half way line moved forward a bit and from fully 35 yards let fly with a lovely chip after seeing Francis of his line. After some frantic back peddling the goalie just managed to get a hand to the ball and tipped it on to the bar and then recovered in time to pick up the loose ball. Reading continued to press on in search of an equaliser with Nogan heading just wide but Huddersfield looked dangerous on the counter attack with Bobby having to be very sharp off his line to clear first with his head and then with his feet.

Reading did a couple of substitutions which actually made sense for once, Meeker came on for Williams who had a quiet game and Lovell came on for the ineffective Nogan.

The subs livened up the game a bit and the deceptive pace of Meeker on the right wing was causing the Huddersfield defence a few problems however the next best chance came from the left with Bodin whipping over a good cross which Francis flapped at, the ball again fell to the edge of the box to the waiting Gooding who pulled his shot wide this time. A bit later on Andy Bernal also put a good cross over which hit the bar and Kenny Brown also flicked a cross on with his head which just drifted wide.

My Man of the Match was Andy Bernal. Jamie Lambert had a good first half but was very quiet in the 2nd half.

Reading have clearly got to do something about their attack, they are so predictable with the approach work it basically goes like this - Get the ball in midfield and play it across the middle until one of the wingers or wingbacks is free, pass it to him and then hope he whips in a good cross. Great if you've got someone who is good at heading a ball but Reading haven't. On the positive side this was a better away performance by Reading but they should have really got a point against a side who weren't very good.

Another point is I hope Reading's new stadium has a better atmosphere than the McAlpine stadium. It took the home crowd fully 30 minutes to register a single chant and then you could hardly hear them. The funniest bit came when they scored, some kids next to the Reading Fans started singing "Your not singing anymore". They have got to be joking ! I'm glad Elm Park isn't this quiet as watching the footy would be really boring.

Mark Firmager

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