VANS TROPHY - SOUTHERN SECTION ROUND TWO
READING 2 COLCHESTER UNITED 1 (Half Time: 1-0)
N.Smith (45 mins), Henderson (72 mins).
Colchester United Scorers: Stockwell (77 mins).
30 October 2001
Reading: Ashdown, Murty, Viveash, Mackie, Shorey, Hughes (Igoe 69), N.Smith (Harper 78), Gamble, A.Smith (Rougier 78), Forster, Henderson. Subs not used: Whitehead, Williams.
Brown, Gregory (Opara 70), Fitzgerald, Clark, G.Johnson, Izzet, Bowry
(Stockwell 66), Pinault (Hadrava 53), Keith, Morgan, McGleish. Subs
not used: Woodman, R.Johnson.
This was a highly entertaining game in which Reading progressed to the next stage of this insignificant competition. The passing and movement was better tonight than it has been for some time and there were players out there who deserve the opportunity to prove themselves in a league match. The Reading players seemed to take the game more seriously than their opponents, probably because they felt they were playing for a place in the team on Saturday following Pardew's press releases this week. Neil Smith in particular was out to prove a point. He scored a good goal with a very firm header and got himself booked for a series of reckless challenges. To demonstrate his commitment further he ranted at his team mates every time they failed to 'read' his misplaced passes. No doubt he will replace Parky (suspended) on Saturday as the ball winner in midfield. Joe Gamble had a very good game in midfield tonight and is a far better player than Smith. He looked comfortable with ball, was constantly looking to receive and give passes, and unlike anyone on Saturday passed penetratively. I think he is worth a place in the starting line up along with Henderson and Shorey. I don't think much would be lost by 'resting' Butler and Robinson.
Henderson as usual frequently won the ball in the air and was unlucky not to open the scoring with a powerful header in the first half. In the second half he could have had a hat-trick. After a neat exchange of passes with Igoe he found himself clear of the defence and hit his shot tamely at the keeper. A minute later he made amends for his miss by blasting a left foot shoot high into the net from the edge of the area. Shortly after that he almost rounded the keeper but his poor control let him down when he looked likely to score.
Forster was very lively using his pace to create openings. Twice in the first half he produced good strikes on goal by cutting inside - once with his left foot and once with his right. He also hit the bar when put through by an excellent ball from Gamble in the second half. He missed an easy chance to score with his head when a cross to the far post found him unmarked. Throughout the game he troubled the Colchester defence but he has an unfortunate knack of picking out the wrong passing option or not looking for one it at all. It is difficult to see where he fits in the starting line up. Cureton is the best finisher and must play, and I think Henderson compliments him better than anyone else at present.
Shorey looked very good in possession and provided a threat down the left. Defensively he reads the game well and is always in the right place. He looks far more secure than Robinson and if Reading are going to pass their way out of the current patch of poor form he is a far better option. Ashdown looked a little edgy at times but handled everything capably. He could not be faulted for the Colchester goal, which is more than can be said for the central defenders who allowed Stockwell an alarming amount of time and space in the middle of the penalty area.
I hope Pardew will encourage his team to pass and move forward with the same
sense of urgency in the coming league games. There are players in the squad
capable of playing good passing football. He should select them and don't panic
when results go against him occasionally. I think he has succumbed to pressure
and in desperation tried too many different permutations recently.
Post Match Opinions
It was worth going. It was great to see the reserves playing out of
their skins to prove their worth. Most notable: Gamble played so well
that he should feature in most games at least for part of a game. some
of his through balls were a class above Harper et al. What else has he
got to do to prove himself. Shorey would be an automatic pick in any other
2nd div team - come on Pards let him have a run. Forster really is too
greedy for his own good. Great player but not a team player. Colchester
were really poor but Reading looked very comfortable on the ball, and
if the strikers hadn't missed so many then it would easily have been 5
or more. Well the kids. You showed the 1st team what it takes.
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