I wasn't sure if I should laugh or cry. I could say Reading were shit, but I don't want to offend shit! What we all saw on Saturday was a badly managed team without any idea what to do. No imagination, no tactics, no real passion. Hopeless. Every now and again we would see a little bit of skill from a Reading player, and as usual we stringed a few passes together, but no one knew what to do with the ball - just clueless. We were well and truely stuffed, the only amazing thing is that it didn't reach double figures. And I'm sure Crystal Palace weren't actually that good. It was the last straw for all Loyal Royals. The 'Quinn out' chants started when Palace put in their third 15 minutes into the second half. When the final whistle went anything between 500 and 1,000 home fans stayed to voice their anger at what is happening at Reading. The message was clear enough: Quinn must go. It's a shame it had to come to this. Quinn was such a great player in his day - so valuable in getting Reading to the first division, however it's clear he's just not a manager.
There was a pretty clear indication of how the game was going to go as early as the first minute when the Reading defence was totally laughable. As soon as the game started Palace came forward and the Reading defence just didn't know what to do with the ball. They kept winning it in, or on the edge of, the area. Instead of doing the obvious thing and hoofing it to safety they either waited to be tackled or kicked it to a Palace forward. Then we had two players going for the same ball and colliding. Then one defender kicking it at another. When we eventually scrambled it to safety somehow Gilkes got in a fight just inside the Reading half and picked up the first of many yellow cards. Moments later he had words with the ref, and for a brief moment I thought he was about to get the fastest sending off in the clubs history.
For a while Reading actually looked alright. For the first 15 minutes of the game you'd think Reading looked the stronger team, and with the home advantage it looked safe. However we just couldn't do anything with it despite our posession. It's been the same story countless times this season - particually both the Wycombe games. We get the ball, pass it around, and do nothing with it. No creativity and no penetration and so it all comes to nothing. Palace were content to sit back and watch as Reading went around harmlessly in circles. Our best chance came in this fifteen minute spell when Morley found himself with a chance about on the edge of the area to the right of the goal. He went for a lob and was unlucky not to put Reading in front. The keeper got a touch and the ball dropped wide of the left post. Perhaps if that had went in it would have been a different story. Perhaps. Hunter had the only other chance I remember for Reading in the whole of the first half - his shot well wide. Then Palace just cruised. They broke through the midfield with amazing ease and the defence put up depressingly little resistance.
Palace went 0-1 up on the half hour. The corner came in from the Palace left. It swung inwards towards goal and there was David Tuttle (who went to the same school as me!) to put it in. The second came about 10 minutes later. A Palace forward won the ball midway into the Reading half and put in a long shot with Reading pushing forwards. I'm not sure why Bobby made no effort for it but he stood there as the ball went to his right and into the net. Still it was hard to complain too much at Bobby as he put in a number of good saves to keep the first half score down. Despite an overall shit first half from Reading, Gilkes and Morley both stood out to me as having a bit of a go at least. Gilkes and Morley worked together a bit and Gilkes was having some of his little runs that may have created something.
It was obvious something drastic had to be done at half time to pull the game around so it was interesting to see Mick Gooding out on the pitch for almost the whole break warming up. So it was Jimmy Quinn giving the team talk and discussing a wealth of interesting new 'tactics' for the second half. Well it really worked a treat didn't it Jim? Reading come out the same for the second half with the exception of one change. Well, Gilkes had had a cracking first half (compared to the rest of the team) and looked like our best potential for creating a chance to pull a goal back. So obviously take Gilkes off! Yeah! Nice one! Pathetic. Gooding came on in his place to start the half.
Fifteen minutes into the second half Palace made it 0-3, 0-4 and then 0-5. I can't remember the goals too well (too many of them) but everytime they just walked through and scored with such ease. It was all too easy for them. I think it was the fourth that came from a corner on the Palace right. It went over the head of Bobby close to the goal line and dipped down to the player on the far post to put in.
I think it was the fifth that was the penalty. The ref followed the law to the letter and dismissed Hunter for a 'professional foul' - more than a little harsh in my opinion. The forward was clean through I admit, with just Bobby to beat, when Hunter just clipped the back of his heel. He thought about it very briefly indeed and then dived convincingly onto the floor well inside the area and rolled around for effect. Cheating bastard. Not that it mattered. The resulting penalty was blasted past Bobby. 0-5.
Now 5 goals down the 'management' decided maybe we should make some changes!! Oh, yes, nothing like leaving it too late. Off went Parkie and Meaker (who was having a bad game) and on came Nogan and Lambert. The Meaker-Lambert sub was fine, but keeping Quinn on (having a shit game) was stupid when it was clear he should make way for Nogan. The home fans had had enough - everytime Quinn came near the ball he was greeted with a chorus of jeers. Typically enough with the two new subs on Reading started to actually look good. The introduction of Lambert turned the game for a while. Where has he been all season? He's just the sort of player we need. He made some cunning little runs and played a couple of good balls. Meanwhile the numbers were evened up when a Palace player got a second yellow and so the red card. The bit of Reading pressure eventually paid off when Gooding came through into the area on the Reading left and was brought down by the Palace keeper. Excuse me where was the red card? Not even a yellow.
Morley stepped up to take the penalty and hit it well to the left of the keeper and high. 1-5. Hurray.
The rest of Reading's chances resulted in the ball being blasted well over the bar when we really should have done better. It's hard to believe a professional footballer, given that much room, can manage to send the ball directly into the back of the terracing every time. Quinn, Holsgrove, and Lambert all sent the ball into orbit with their shots. Then Readings brief moment was over and Palace started looking for a few more goals.
With plenty of the game remaining Palace broke the the right outpacing Holsgrove. Bobby came out for it and the Palace bloke took it well, chipping it nicely over Mihaylov, and into the empty net. 1-6. It could have been so many more. Palace had an amazing long range power shot that Bobby directed away with his fists. Another chance saw Bobby somehow clear when one of two Palace players really should have made it 7. A free ball in the middle saw both shag it up leaving Bobby to hack it away with his legs.
When the final whistle went it couldn't have been sooner. The South Bank chose the moment to make John Madejski know exactly how they felt. The players legged it down the tunnel with crowd chants of "on the pitch". But the fans behaved wonderfully getting the message across in the best way possible - refusing to move for at least 30 minutes after the end of the game! I was one of those who left and you could hear the "Quinn has got to go" singing way down the road. Interestingly not a mention of Gooding. Eventually John Madejski came out to address the crowd - saying he couldn't act instantly but it was something he was determined to sort out. Lets hope so.
Hob Nob Anyone? Man Of The Match Award: Goes to the bloke that legged it on the pitch to protest at Hunters sending off and walked back into the crowd before he could get arrested.