2 Jan 1999
Reading 1 Chesterfield 2
Crawford, Casper, Kromheer, Clement(Sarr), Primus, Parkinson, Caskey, Brebner,
Ok, first lets have a quick look at the facts then shall we? Chesterfield at home. Yes, Chesterfield. A team, below us in the table and with their squad struck down by flu. The away side started with six of their regulars unable to make a start. Add to this Chesterfield's recent run of non-too impressive form - and their complete lack of away victories this season and the result must be obvious, yes? Aha, but what we're missing out here is a home side playing dull, boring, predictable, slow football and not looking all that likely to score. Now, this performance followed straight on from the Notts County one. We hadn't learnt any of the lessons and played exactly the same football. Against County we were lucky - everyone knew that when the only goal came from a freak County pass back. However today we weren't quite so lucky and a few slack moments at the back were enough to hand the game to a deserving team.
Right then. Williams. Out injured but back on the bench on Monday and able to come on with five minutes to go then. Surely fit enough to make a start today? No apparantly not. Sarr. Read as Williams but as far as I am aware without the injury. Meanwhile McIntyre and the full-of-effort Brayson start the game up front instead. WHY? Glasgow. I hope he was injured (not because I want him to be injured) but because that must be the only logical reason for Sir Burns to exclude him from the starting eleven. Instead we ended up with Clement, a proven centre back perhaps or perhaps not, but definately not a proven winger. Clement's loan period will soon come to a close and after today I can't see any reason to sign him. He was absolute pants.
And so. The same slow patient build up from the back that we've been playing every game this season. Sometimes it's worked, sometimes it hasn't - but whatever it hardly registers on the exciting scale. Today then - wiithout any pace at all down the wings with Glasgow and Sarr both missing, and up front no proven goalscorer. No suprise really to be two down before half time with hardly a sniff of a goal ourselves.
Reading's best chances always seemed to involve Parkie. In fact he came closest to scoring after starting a move off himself. The ball was played wide to Brebner on the left and Brebner crossed low into the box to the oncoming Parkie. Parkie let off a low drive that was saved well by the keeper.
Down the other end Chesterfield had three shots on target during the whole of the first half and almost scored with all of them. The first was a low cross from the left prodded in on the far post when Chesterfield came forward far too fast for Reading and left us with one defender too less. 1-0. The second was ten minutes later, just before half time. This time is was a corner from the left headed in on the near post. Couldn't really blame Howie for either but some serious defensive mistakes were responsible. 2-0. Caskey made sure it wasn't three before half time with a clearance off the line from a close range shot inside the box and then continued to bounce it around on a leg before laying off a decent ball as he'd been doing all half.
Caskey, Parkie and Brebner were doing a decent job in the middle. We were keeping most of the possession but doing little up front. The main weakness was the wings - Crawford and Clement were both having horrendous games - and their lack of running and imagination gave us no option and made us slower and more predictable than ever. A moment that showed this more than ever was right in front of the East Stand. Parkie had the ball and was screaming at Clement to get down the wing down his outside so he could lay the ball off to him but Clement stood back as if nailed to the pitch. If he'd made the run perhaps he'd have got a cross in. Although thinking about it - this was another area of weakness - we only put in about two decent crosses during the entire ninety minutes. Although thinking about that - so what? If we had put in the decent crosses who was going to finish them? McIntyre wasn't going to score and also totally lost his ability to win the ball or pass the thing. At least Brayson looked improved with some decent runs and more than 100 percent effort.
And so the second half continued in the same manner. Brayson almost won us a penatly after being pulled down in the box but otherwise we weren't creating the chances as Chesterfield packed their defence to secure the three away points - and occasionally broke forward to give Howie a few good saves to make.
Parkie again almost came close as the ball was played into the box - unfortunately he headed it down too hard and as it came back up it bounced over the bar rather than under it. Reading brightened up a bit when at last Sarr replaced the truly shit Clement. Immediately we looked a bit more dangerous - the reason being a long overdue injection of excitement. Sarr legged it past two or three players with a nice bit of speed. Could have done with it earlier really. Shortly after that Williams improved things further coming off the bench to replace McIntyre.
Reading only really started to play with less than five minutes of the game left when Sarr stuck one in but it was only ever going to be a consolation goal. 2-1 then but half the home fans had already gone and missed it. Serves them right. A nice frantic finish was enough to prevent the huge chorus of boos looming for Sir Burns' men. We need to be more frantic throughout the game. And that starting eleven was wrong.
ps. Was that a band in the corner of the North Stand?