Match Report vs PORTSMOUTH

25 January 1997 (FA Cup Round 4)
Portsmouth 3 READING 0

Att: 15,003
Team: Bibbo, Booty, Gilkes, Holsgrove, Hunter, Bernal, Caskey (Archie), Gooding, Lambert, Williams, Morley.
Sub Used: Archie
Subs Not Used: Quinn, Bodin.

Reading's incredibly crap away form continued in typical 'style' at Fratton Park to see the Royals go flying out of the cup - leaving us just the 19th place in the league to fight for until the end of the season. Portsmouth's first goal may well have come against the run of play, when Reading almost looked bright, but there's no point denying that we were by far the second best team. We played like bollocks.

The team was pretty much the now regular team with a couple of major changes. With Mihaylov truely out of favour following a couple of fatal mistakes in the past few matches, Sal Bibbo stepped in for probably the most important game of his career so far. He failed to impress. Hunter also made a return in place of Keith McPherson. Thankfully Gilkes was prefered to Bodin at left back.

The first half was crap. It's difficult to think of anything exciting that actually happened. Portsmouth had far more play than Reading but were so shit they couldn't do anything with it. To our credit our defence looked like it could hold out for ages. They kept coming forward but Bibbo didn't have to make a save for the whole half as far as I can remember. Every shot was successfully charged down and we were winning the balls in the air on the edge of our area, and Hunter was hoofing the ball anywhere to clear it. We got in a couple of good tackles, but when we didn't it didn't seem to matter. They had the posession but there didn't seem any need to panic. Their number 9 kept getting to the line well but his crosses were going all over the place.

We never looked like scoring either. Our best chances came to Gooding and then to Lambert just before half time. Gooding tried a little run from just inside the Pompey half on the right side, he got a bit closer, past a few players, but in the end settled to a fairly long range weak effort, straight along the ground. Knight in the Portsmouth goal got down to his right to save with ease. Lambert's effort came from a fantastic Trevor Morley ball from the right wing to Lambert inside the area left of centre. Lambert chased it down but it didn't fall well and the chance was gone. Half time came with Portsmouth yet again down the Reading end and looking slightly scarey. Phew.

After Portsmouth's dominance in the first half, the second half looked a lot brighter at last. The first 15 minutes after the break the game started going the other way with Reading enjoying much more of the ball and stringing a few passes together. We played it around in the air, then on the floor and started to build patiently. OK, we weren't getting too far but we were looking good for a draw!! Then our best chance from a Caskey cross to Morley in the middle. Good cross, good positioning from Morley but his head just failed to connect for what would have been a great goal.

Caskey continued to play some truely dreadful balls to no-one before being replaced by Archie Lovell, Hunter was content just to hoof them anywhere, and Lambert was running nowhere. So although it was against the run of play it was still no suprise when Portsmouth took the lead with about 20 minutes of the game remaining. The goal was on a fast break into the Reading half. It was played wide to the right, that speedy winger legged diagonally in, Bibbo came out far too soon with a defender possibly closing in (I didn't have a great view), and the ball was played into the left of the net. 0-1. At last the fans came into life anyway.

About five minutes later and another speedy goal from seemingly nothing. It came straight down the middle. Holsgrove was all too easily pushed out of the way in what seemed like a 50-50 situation leaving a one on one with Bibbo - who was easily beaten. 0-2. Lovell had a quick low effort well wide but we'd given up really. Then with five minutes remaining a cross from the left was flapped at hopelessly by Bibbo and driven in from the right. 0-3.

Full time, and all too disappointing after our great win against Southampton in the previous round. Out of the cup for another year. No-one played well. Gilkes was OK in patches as was Booty. Caskey was shit again, Hunter looked inferior to Macca in my opinion. We had no midfield. It was bollocks.

The highlight of the afternoon was my hot dog before the game started and, believe me, that tasted like shit.

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