Match Report vs Bradford City

Saturday 15 March 1997 (League)

Att: 8,400
Team: Mautone, Bernal, Macca, Hopkins, Parkinson, Gooding, Caskey, Meaker (Lambert), Gilkes, Morley, Quinn (Lovell).
Sub Not Used: Glasgow.

Reading put their recent run of good performances well and truely behind them - and managed to play like total shite for the majority of the game and were fortunate to get a point.

The Royals started with the winning team from midweek with the exception, of the centre of defence where the suspended Barry Hunter was replaced by Jeff Hopkins. I can't believe it was this change that made the difference as Hopkins had a decent game. But this was a different Reading. A Reading that looked like they really just couldn't be arsed.

Before the game started things looked good. A lively atmosphere, the Royals on a bit of a run, confidence sky high, shit opposition, and a beautiful sunny day allowing everyone to arrive showing off their R's shirts. The game got underway and just got gradually worse and it got on. For the first twenty minutes I though it was going to be the usual thing with a slow start and then a goal just before half time, but no way, Reading were never going to score. You'll have to excuse me because I'm typing this up Sunday night but my memory tells me our only attempt on goal of the first half came from Caskey. Reading won a free kick just outside the area and just right a centre. Caskey stepped up and his effort bent over the wall towards the top left corner of the goal. The Bradford keeper was awake to make a clean save.

It was down the other end where it looked more likely to go in. A move down the right saw Mautone get down well to stop the danger. Mautone followed it up by making his only notable save of the half - diving to his right and making the shot look far better than it was. But shortly afterwards Mautone was beaten as he came off his line with a Bradford player inside the left of the area skipping past our defender. The ball thankfully wasn't hit hard enough and, although it was heading for the bottom right corner, Gooding got back to time to clear the ball off the Reading goalline. Then again, moments later, it looked like City would edge in front. Once again Gooding made the vital touch to save a goal with a great run and tackle to prevent a one-on-one with Mautone.

Reading were all over the place. When we're good the ball's on the floor and we're stringing passes together all over the park. On Saturday it was good old hit and hope stuff. The passing was awful. Caskey developed a great skill for putting the ball behind the intended player making a run. And when Gilkes and Meaker found a bit of space the ball didn't arrive. And there was no service for the forwards. I think I went half an hour and forget Quinn was playing - I didn't see him anywhere.

We could have done with some half time changes. So we started the second half with the same eleven players. Another dull 5 or 10 minutes. Then Reading started, at last, looking a bit brighter. And with it so did Bradford and we had a bit of end to end stuff that could almost be considered entertainment. Gooding played a great cross in from the left wing which found Morley excellently positioned on the far post. You'd have put money on Trev putting that one away. Morley's header found the ground a bit too powerfully and bounced high over the bar. Gilkes was next to put a cross over - this time finding Darren Caskey: whose effort was easy enough for the Bradford keeper.

Quinn went off and on came Archie. Lambert replaced Meaker. However neither player managed to make an impact. Archie dropped back a bit and seemed to be trying to break though the left with the rest of the team leaving Morley as a loan striker, until he too fancied a go on the left wing. I'm not quite sure why Byron Glasgow was left on the bench. The game was crying out for something different. We were never going to score so it would have been worth a try. If he wasn't given a chance in a game like that when is he going to get it?

Hopkins had a solid game and was a more than worthy replacement for Hunter. Macca was solid as ever. Gooding was everywhere and had a good game. Meaker started well, went shit, improved and made a few runs and got taken off, Quinn wasn't in it. Caskey was bollocks.

Miraculously the Royals moved up to 14th.


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