A satisfactory performance against an inferior Third Division Swansea City team (sorry Swansea fans!). In the end we went home happy people, but lets not forget that for a lot of the game we really weren't anything special.
Reading fielded the same team that had managed a point up at Bury and gave the home fans the first chance to see Primus, Hodges, and Asaba in action at Elm Park. Despite that and a nice warm evening it was a fairly empty Elm Park that watched the game got off to a very slow pace. Right from the start it seemed unlikely that Swansea were going to cause any real problems. They mustered up one weak little effort along the floor, which somehow returned to the same Swansea player, giving him the chance to do exactly the same again and tap the ball to Mautone.
With our defence not exactly needing to be watertight it gave Steve Swales the ideal opportunity to look good. Swales seemed to be one of the players really up for it and keen to impress after his first goal for the club at Bury on Saturday. He seemed to be everywhere but in his expected position, but was getting forward well. As the ball came across the face of goal he was the first to have an attempt on goal. But the ball swung away from his foot way wide of the left post. Booty on the other hand wasn't looking good despite not needing to put in any tackles. A few bad passes and mistimed runs left him to be shown up by Swales on the left.
Making his first full return at Elm Park since injury Wdowczyk almost put the Royals ahead inside the first half an hour. Reading won a free kick right on the edge of the area, just right of centre, moments later a powerful goalbound strike curling into the corner was pushed wide by the Swansea keeper for a corner. A corner that was wasted. Lambert, working well with Swales down the left, almost helped the Royals into the lead a bit later with a cross to McPherson in the middle of the box. Macca failed to make proper contact and the scores stayed level.
Once again Swansea tried a little tame shot along the ground. However the resistance provided by the grass wasn't quite enough to stop the ball before it reached Mautone. Shortly after Mautone had to make a save. Swansea entirely incapable of getting close tried a very commendable long range job. It may have been going wide but Mautone made sure and pushed it wide to his left in acrobatic style. Swales, still trying to impress, fired in a couple of excellent crosses. Sadly no one was there to meet them. So although the half was the Royals the possession was coming to nothing. There was a hint of more positive play than last season but not enough real chances. Asaba had done enough to look stylish without actually doing anything. I put it down to lack of space. Hodges was running around, but doing nothing. Primus. Solid. Very solid. We now have too Maccas in the middle of defence. Which is no bad thing.
After another slow start to the second half the game came to life a bit after Reading finally took the lead. Reading won a corner on the right, taken by Lambert it was pushed back out to him on the right. We worked it into the box, saw a shooting chance, and thankfully took it. The Swansea keeper seemed suprised to actually see the ball come at him and somehow missed it. The ball nestled into the right of the net. 1-0 to the Royals with 30 minutes left!
The game turned some more with the introduction of Neville Roach. Hodges went off after a dissapointing game, and Roach was immediately fantastic. Energy, Style, and Determination. This is what we want. Roach seemed to find the space with ease and managed to bring the best out in the other players. The game quickened, Reading completely dominated and Swansea looked worse than ever. At least Carl Asaba showed some true class, a couple of nice touches to start with, then a few decent passes at last, then he created Roach's goal. Asaba played the ball left to right into the path of Roach. Roach avoided the defenders challange, looked like he might get a penalty from the keeper, before jumping his body and slotting into the back of the net. A strikers goal. 2-0 to the R's! Wembley beckons!!
Houghton made one nice little touch to Roach as well. He tried it again and it didn't work. Houghton seemed far out of it, and towards the end of the game was replaced by Paul Holsgrove. Then we settled for 2-0 and just knocked it around a bit - nice and casual.
So not the best game ever. A slow start but a good patch in the second half. I'll give Asaba a few games before judging. The second leg should be just a formality. Lets hope Bullivant starts Roach against the Swindle and let's see what he can really do against inferior opposition!