Match Report vs Sheffield United

13 February 1998 (FA Cup Round Five)
Sheffield United 1 READING 0

Team: Bibbo, Booty, Bernal, Primus, Swales, Parkie, Houghton, Bowen, Morley, Asaba, Hodges.

Royals Man Of The Match: Bowen

Report from Simon Grundy:

After recent results, it was with a feeling of impending doom, that I travelled to Brammall Lane.Having leaked so many goals in recent games,we had no real chance surely? But we were all slightly cheered up at the sight of Primus back in the team.Hodges was preferred to Williams,and as the game progressed,it was clear that Bullivant felt the main threat to any further progress in the cup,lay down our left flank,and played Hodges in front of Swales in an attempt to deny United space. It almost worked.

The first minute of the game saw United hit the crossbar,and for the next 20 minutes,we were under constant pressure.We could barely string one pass together,let alone two! Thankfully United's shooting would have have been more at home at Twickenham.But at least they were shooting.But at about the 20 minute mark,we suddenly started passing the ball to each other. Some nice movement,and some quick darting runs from Bowen,saw us putting the Blades defence under a little bit of pressure.But once again,we were not able enough to work the ball in to a goal scoring opportunity

Is it just me,or do other supporters see things the way I do. It always seems to me,that the opposition forwards,are quicker, sharper,and more able than ours.Of course it is probable that we are more critical of our own,but apart from the 93-94,and 94-95 seasons,we have lacked a real cutting edge up front.Although Saunders was way off the mark for the Blades on several occasions,he was quick,and ran at our defence at every opportunity,something we don't seem to do. Of course,I know that can't be true,it just seems that way.After all Morley's record speaks for itself,Asaba will surely play in the Premiership,and we all know about Archie's ability.

Anyway,we got to half time goalless,and a real feeling was growing that we might snatch a draw from this.The second half started,and we were starting to show a bit of steel in midfield(guess who?).It was encouraging to note that,Houghton and Bowen appear to be developing an understanding,and they started to link well.But again,we failed to to cut it were it mattered.A couple of good saves from Bibbo,and a slice of luck or two,and we were down to the last 10 minutes.Williams came on for Asaba,and all of a sudden we got the ball in to the box.Twice in fact.Both times Williams was the man who received the ball.Both times he failed to react quickly enough,primarily because he had turned his back on the game.By the time he had turned to face the play,the opportunity was gone.

Bibbo had started looking shaky,and lacking in confidence,but full marks to him,he grew in stature as the game progressed and made some good saves.It helps if supporters get behind players,and particularly goalies.You only have to recall how Simon Sheppard's confidence visbly drained away.

But inevitably,just when we thought we had done it,bang 1-0. Sandford,of all people pops up in our area and heads the Blades in to the quarter finals.All that hard work undone.

To be fair,we didn't do enough to win,but we could say we had done enough to earn a replay.We looked better organised than so often of late,and at times looked a decent side,but as is so often the case,we lacked the cutting edge.Still,if we approach Sunderland on Tuesday,with the same discipline,and maybe get that essential slice of luck,who knows.

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