3 September 1996 (Coca-Cola Cup Round One Leg Two)
Wycombe Wanderers 2 READING 0

(Wycombe Wanderers win 3-1 on aggregate)

Team: Mihaylov, Booty, Bodin, Holsgrove, Hopkins, Wdowczyk, Parkie, Williams, Morley, Nogan, Gooding. Subs Used: Bernal, Gilkes, Quinn.

Total shite. I should have know it wasn't to be our night as the evening started. Firstly we got held up in all the traffic, eventually found somewhere to park and arrived at the ground 10 minutes after the game had started. An arrival there were just 2 entrances for the massive rush of Royals supporters - more round the corner apparently for a sold out stand behind the goal. I pay my seven quid for a remaining standing ticket and get stuck on a rectangular slab of concrete in front of the stand - about 5 people back and unable to see anything. Shite. Total dis-organisation by the stewards leaving us lot packed in there with no view for almost the whole first half. Meanwhile the 'main stand' is empty. There were about 2,000 Royals fans - must be more than twice those expected and not a lot more home ones.

With 5 minutes left of the first half the stewards get the brain wave of putting us in the empty seats opposite so we can actually see something. I note with interest my seat is actually dusty!! Do they ever fill this ground?? I'm not sure whether it was better being to see the whole second half or not really. At least for the first half I couldn't see how shite we were.

Before I finish my moan I'd like to create a case for the disabled bloke and his mate just in front of us at the front of the stand. They must have been there for three quarters of the match in a great spot, causing no trouble at all and then the bloody Wycombe stewards have a go. The bloke in the wheelchair then has a policeman stood in front of him until they have to move - so they both miss the game for no reason. (maybe the policeman was doing them a favour). Disgusting.

The away fans attempted to make some noise in the first half but it was difficult being spread all around the ground and having very little to cheer about. The second half the atmosphere disappeared and the home crowd didn't even get excited until they were 2 goals up. Wycombe have seriously dodgy support - a brand new main stand half empty. Meanwhile Reading fans were spilling out everywhere.

The starting line up was as on Saturday with the only change being Mihaylov returning from international duty to replace Bibbo in goal. Once again Caskey was excluded. Caskey walked past us midway through the first half and, along with Meaker, looked truly pissed off. Unless something amazing happened in the first ten minutes the first half was quite uneventful. Of the greatest concern was when Booty got splatted. He went off the pitch for treatment, came back on but was limping and was forced to retire to be replaced by Skippy.

Reading once again had all the possession but completely lacked the penetration. It was almost like watching the first leg again. Reading controlled the first half but had few real goal scoring opportunities. Parkie had a long range shot in the centre deflected wide for a corner. We kept moving well down the right flank but I could see bugger all in that corner. Wycombe seemed content with successfully soaking up the pressure.

The second half was different. I could see things! Wycombe also came out a different side - more determined right after the break and despite their inferior possession always the more dangerous team. Great, we can pass the ball around wonderfully. But so could I and I'm shite. But when it came to the final moves it was all the same. So many balls played forward just went astray. Other forward balls were all too easily cut out by the tall Wycombe back line. We resorted back to the same tactic used unsuccessfully in the first leg - the crosses played in - easy for the defence to clear. When we tried to cut through the middle it went wrong too. We just seemed to run into them.

Scarcily enough our best attempt of the game came from the boot of Hopkins. He hit a delicious curvy shot from the right side edge of the box which dipped and would have crept into the top left corner of the net if the keeper hadn't got an outstretched touch. Best attempt from Hopkins says it all really.

Wycombe's first goal came from a break down the right. A Wanderer's defender just hoofed the ball forward as a clearance. A Wycombe player ran on across to pick up the ball and played it forward into the middle as the centre forward outpaced our defence. Then with a one-on-one with Mihaylov hoofed the ball into the back of the net. 0-1.

At least the management duo realised the need to get the goal and decided to keep both Morley and Nogs on the pitch - and take off the defence! Quinn replaced Dariusz Wdowczyk taking the defence to a flat back four. Gilkes came on for Parkie. Then Wycombe got their second - through the space left by the absence of Dariusz - the ball came back out to be slotted in from the right side of the six yard box. 0-2 and looking all over for the Royals. That was probably one of the differences - Wycombe looked dangerous coming forward. The opposition had the pace to make their breaks count - we didn't. They could have made it 0-3 until in a one-on-one the Wycombe forward fired it straight at Bobby in the centre of the goal mouth.

With Quinn on the pitch we looked marginally more likely to pull one back - he seemed the only one capable of well placing himself for the crosses. Bernal played a great ball in from the left to Quinn in the middle who was unable to make anything of it. Morley also got one in the middle which we cocked up completely. Quinn also tried his little bit of playing on the left wing and played in a cross to Williams who produced a diving header requiring a rare save from the Wycombe keeper. Williams also tried a second half long shot but was content to play most of the second half passing his man before running straight into another and wasting chances.

So it's another frustrating Reading performance and we're out of the Coca-cola cup. Bummer. We seemed to lack the passion. I had to wonder if the players actually 'wanted it'. Holsgrove and Hopkins didn't have really bad games but Gooding wasn't quite himself. In fact Gooding seemed a bit of the pace - not that there was much pace. Nogs, after looking better on Saturday, returned to his out-of-formness. Morely was shite. Bodin had a bad game. Williams lacked imagination as did Reading as a whole. The same tactics that were never going to work. Wycombe weren't great but they didn't really need to be. Their defence was rock hard, ours wasn't. They had no midfield and since we weren't creative enough up front we ended up spending too much time just knocking the ball around between us but going nowhere.

Looking on the bright side: at least now we can concentrate on our league form. We didn't want a cup run upsetting things now did we?


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