Auto Windscreens Shield Round One
Attendance: 1,561
Scorers: Bernal Date: 8 December 1999
Team: Howie, Gurney, Bernal (Evers), Primus, Polston, Potter (Sarr), Smith, Bowen, Caskey (Crawford), Williams, Brayson.
Audio: Nope.
Match Hero:

The first round of the Auto Windscreens Shield at the Madejski Stadium won't be remembered - but if it ever was it would be Reading's lowest crowd ever at the Madejski Stadium and Reading playing at home in their orange away shirt. Reading, struggling in the Second Division, and Leyton Orient, struggling in the Third Division, played out the 90 minutes in a deserted Madejski Stadium without really ever picking up the pace and proved the competition is one that no club seems to take seriously. Orient never really bothered playing and Reading didn't do much more.

Although Pardew didn't use the tie to try out any of the youngsters, Reading's new non-contract signing, 36 year old Mark Bowen made his debut for the Royals, and Pardew gave Paul Brayson a rare start up front. In the second half the faithful few Reading fans were lucky enough to see the return of Mass Sarr, who injected a bit of excitement into the game, and another rare appearance for Jimmy Crawford. Nothing to really get excited about - but at least a victory for the Royals - and we don't get many of those.

Reading had the most of the first half, but it was mostly a case of just playing out time. Caskey almost put Reading ahead after five minutes from a free-kick just outside the box, but the ball struck the top of the cross bar and bounced away to safety. Fifteen minutes later Andy Bernal, captain for the night, headed Reading into the lead. The ball was crossed from the right and Skippy's downwards header bounced over the Orient keeper's dive. 1-0 to the Royals. The away side didn't really threaten but were unlucky not to earn a penalty just before half time after Polston brought down their forward inside the box just as he was turning past him.

Not long after half time Pardew replaced Bernal and Potter with Evers, and the hero from the start of last season, Mass Sarr. Reading desperately need a player like the Sarr of 12-14 months ago. The skill, the speed and excitement which we completely lack this season. Unfortunately Sarr lost all of that quite quickly after becoming the East Stand's messiah - and turned a bit crap. He gave a brief taste of what was shortly after coming on, getting past three or four players, before blasting the ball well wide. If he does get back to his form of old we could have something to look forward to after all this season, but it's not likely.

With the introduction of Sarr, and Smith almost scoring a second for the Royals after picking up a Gurney cross, there was even a bit of singing from the Reading fans brave enough to turn up for a game with seemingly no meaning. Brayson's game picked up a bit as the game started drawing to a close after no supply for well over an hour. He did well to break into the area, past his marker, but failed to make it count, and then later on proved he's just not physical enough getting pushed off the ball far too easily. Those that didn't turn up didn't miss much.

Post Match Opinions

I have to disagree about your comments about Mass , I thought when he come he injected some much needed lift amongst the players and the supporters. Yes he was not match fit but how do you get match fit without being part of matches. He brought players into the game every time he got the ball and they were all forward passes. He did more in terms of creativeness in 20 minutes than Caskey did in 70. There is room for Mass (just) in any Reading 16 and I urge Pardew to at the very least give him a subs spot. Just for the record I thought Brayson played very well last night and deserved a goal, my opinionated opinion is still on the fence regarding Bowen. -- Tredder

Got an Opinion?
Comment on this, or any Royals match - email
Appropriate submissions will appear on match report pages!