Match Report vs Sheffield United

14 March 1998 (League Division One)
Sheffield United 4 READING 0

Team: Colgan, Swales, Legg, Davies, Primus, Bernal, Williams (Houghton 65), Parkinson, Lovell, O'Neill, Lambert.
Subs Not Used: Booty, Caskey.
Att: 15,400

Report from Simon Grundy:

For 44 minutes and 50 seconds Reading more than held their own against a highflying Sheffield United. Then the curse of the bizarre struck again as Sheffield grabbed a rather fortunate goal. You could hear a pin drop in the Reading supporters end as Stuart tapped the ball in the net, to send United in 1-0 up at half time. To describe what happened is rather like pulling teeth.Not something I want to go through again. Suffice to say, I think even the Sheffield fans were expecting the linesmans(I know it's assistant referee, but they will always be linesmen to me) flag to go up, as I was. But no. Another soft goal.

The second half saw us dominant again, but not for quite as long. 30 seconds in fact. There really was no way back when it became 3-0, 7 minutes later. After that it was just a case of damage limitation, but perhaps it was appropriate that their 4th goal should come from someone called Quinn. What now? It is looking grim. Last week Hob-Nob Anyone ran a vote on TB. After much thought, I have to confess I voted in favour of him staying. After this, I find it harder to justify that stance.

I am concerned about our unwillingness to try and change things. We made one substitution on Saturday, and that was an enforced one, with Williams having to go off, being replaced by Houghton. This actually resulted in Lambert moving up, and on a couple of occasions he worked his way in to the penalty area, and was starting to cause the United defence a few problems. Maybe he should be playing further up in future. Also, I could not see why Swales played at right back, with Booty on the bench.And why was Caskey a sub? We all know how he has struggled since his move, but at Crewe he was our best player. I would like to see Caskey playing alongside O'Neill, as I think they would complement each other, one on the left side of midfield(O'Neill), and one on the right. Of course, it is easy for us to be critical, sat in the stands. We are not always aware of all that is going on behind the scenes. We may have been dominant in the first half, but not only are we not scoring goals, we are not creating clear cut oppurtunities.If we are to survive, that must change. It's no good pointing out how unlucky we have been on occasions, you have to make your own luck.

I was interested to see the stats in Hob Nob, "proving" that TB is the worst manager in the history of the club. Perhaps someone could provide stats showing each managers respective records after the same amount of games. Perhaps the "results" would be different.In any event, I can't see the chairman sacking TB, and at this late stage of the season, is there any guarentee it would be beneficial anyway. Perhaps, we supporters should do our bit, and get behind the manager, and players. They are low on confidence, but I still believe thay are good enough(despite the reservations expressed).

So, I'll finish on a positive note. Williams looked sharp at times, Archie worked hard, and I believe he can and will score goals in the next few games(!), Parkie is back snapping away at the heels of anyone in a wrong coloured shirt, and perhaps if a new face was introduced, we could reverse this poor run. Come on you R's!!!!

And a report from Jon Sutton:

Basically, we looked fairly good first half. We had most of the posession, actually had some shots, looked like there was a strong possibility of us getting something out of the game. We strung some passes together! We sang "We've remembered how to pass"! Parky was back, and knocked people over just like he'd never been away. The team got loads of support from us, though they were at the other end most of the time. We heard hardly a murmour from the home fans. But then we conceded at a terrible time, totally unrepresentative of the way the half had gone. But we still felt at HT that we could be in for at least a point; United hadn't looked that special.

But they came out and scored straight away, and that was the end of it. Given that we'd had the better first half, they could not have scored their first two at better times. Second half, we hardly did anything. Reading were playing towards us, but we hardly saw them. We were just crap in the second half. Look at how many we've conceded since Colgan came along. 1, 5, 3 and 4. Bibbo and Stevo were in with the fans a few seats along from me, and I can only hope they now see how important it is that we get one of our keepers fit again.

Williams got injured, a cut to the face I think. Bullivant made a terrible decision to bring on Houghton - what was that going to achieve? Surely at 0-3 Caskey should've come on? Houghton seems only to be capable of shoring things up and calming things down - not that he does that much anyway - what we needed was someone with a bit of flair going forward, unless Bully was worried about them putting 10 past us. OK so Caskey runs hot and cold but at 0-3 he's got to be worth a try. Houghton was deeply unpopular amongst the away fans.

Skippy made some crucial tackles but can't distribute to save his life. Colgan has no confidence and will not claim a ball even if it has his name and a blue and white bow on it. He must be sent back to Chelsea. Quinn against Bolton was a better keeper than him.

Lambert was excellent, he must play for the rest of the season. He ran like crazy, can take people on and win, only problem is that we've got no strikers running in to tap in his crosses.

Davies wasn't up to much, and is starting to show a disturbing violent streak - he's a thug basically. Chopping at people after the ball's gone, squaring up to people at any provocation. Seems immature. Expect many cards for this man.

So anyway, 4-0 was fair enough given how shite we were second half. Bullivant is looking like he doesn't have a clue, but it's too late to do anything about it. We need a fit keeper and a new striker and then we have a chance. Otherwise it's Div 2 for us, where Bully will feel much more at home. And remember, if City & Stoke go down too, I don't rate our chances of getting out next season.

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