Team: Mautone, Bernal (Booty), Swales, Roach (Houghton), McPherson, Primus, Parkinson, Hodges, Asaba, Meaker (Williams), Lambert.
Well I was very wrong about this one. For some reason I was expecting a decent game at Elm Park. Peterborough with their impressive strike force sharing 16 goals between the front two already this season, and with one of those strike force being Jimmy Quinn, enjoying his football in Division Three. After the Oxford game I was convinced things were starting to look up. I was expecting a goal feast. But No.
Reading were without their two current loanees: Sandford and Robins both excluded at their clubs request. In their place in came Swales and Roach - at last starting a game for the Royals. More reason for excitement?
The game started boring and just continued that way. There were some chances and there could have been some goals but saying that flatters the game. This was a 0-0 bore draw without a doubt. Having said that full credit to Peterborough who looked at least as good as Reading and got the result they were after. No, it was Reading that were responsible for this 'entertainment'.
Asaba swtiched back into pre-Oxford mode and was guilty of some horrendous misses once again. Asaba is still trying to do too much by himself, some long runs that always ended with Asaba running straight into a defender. Lambert provided a ray of hope in the first half with a decent shot from outside the area. Down the other end a Jimmy Quinn free quick was just over the Reading crossbar. Quinn's other major first half contribution saw a yellow card for running into Mautone with legs and arms flapping about a bit. So that was the excitement for the half. The rest of the half was neck straining stuff; watching the ball go up and down in the air, all over the pitch, but going nowhere. Some discraceful passing into big gaps on the pitch where noone was near. And then someone would run into space to see the ball played behind them, or way over their head into touch. Bullivant has got to take the lads to the training pitch and teach them how to pass. That would be a start.
Bernal was replaced by Booty after taking a knock. And Meaker, doing nothing down the wing, limped off before half time to give Martin "look no hair" Williams a chance.
Half time. Thank God.
And then more of the same for the second half. There was a moment when things started to look up. Asaba really, really, really should have scored. I know he can't head it, but he is a centre forward for ****s sake. A beautiful chip cross from Lambert gliding nice and slow and easy onto Asaba's head. No marker on Asaba, no pressure, but the ball goes flying over the bar off his head.
Then a small ray of hope: Swales. A sexy run from inside the Reading half, at top speed, passing players, then on the edge of the area a scoarching shot. YES! The South Bank errupts! Oh, hang on, bugger, it's the side netting, fractionally wide of the left post.
Peterborough made themselves well worthy of the draw by almost taking the lead moments later. A free kick on the edge of the box, just right of center. Up stepped their number 9 with 9 goals already this season and hit it onto the inside of the right post. The ball flew across the face of the goal, but thankfully Sir Jim isn't there for that one.
I hate to say it but we need Jim and Mick back! Jim can head the ball in the net. Mick can pass the ball around on the ground a bit. Two things we can't do at the moment. I feel they're two kind of important things.
As for the return leg - it'll be Peterboroughs. Their vocal away support applauded their team off the pitch tonight. And quite right too. It was hard to tell the gap between divisions, but pushed you might go for Peterborough as the first division side. They came away and got the draw with an impressive defensive display. If our offside trap hadn't worked so well everytime they may have gone away with the win.