COLCHESTER UNITED 2 READING 1 (Half Time: 2-1)
Cureton (24 mins).
Colchester Scorers: Conlon (34 mins), Skelton (43 mins, pen).
|Date: 28 April
Reading: Whitehead, Murty, Viveash, Whitbread, Robinson (Rougier), Parkinson, Harper (Caskey), Igoe, Cureton, Butler, McIntyre (Forster). Subs not used: Howie, Hunter.
Colchester United: Woodman, Dunne, Keith, Fitzgerald, Clark, Gavin Johnson, Stockwell, Skelton (White), Izzet, Conlon, Duguid (McGleish). Subs not used: Brown, Ross Johnson, Morgan.
Bookings: Dunne, Gavin Johnson, Izzet (Colchester); Caskey, Viveash (Reading).
The automatic promotion dream finally came to an end at Layer Road after a nervous performance ended in a Reading defeat. It couldn't have been possible to feel such a mixed set of emotions over ninety minutes as Reading looked set to retake second place in the table earlier in the game - only to see it all slip away before the half time break. Early in the game news filtered through that Rotherham were losing 0-1 at home to Brentford - that was followed up, not long later, with a Jamie Cureton goal to give Reading the lead. The Reading fans behind both goals of the Layer Road ground went mental. We were going up. And automatically going up. For ten minutes after the goal all we could think about was we were well on our way to automatic promotion. It was typical Reading that it then went tits from that moment on. Colchester United equalised with a well taken goal and then delivered the killer blow just before the break. The penalty that gave the home side the lead just before the break appeared to come from nowhere, but that made no difference. We had to win this game, and to do that we had to do something special in the second half.
Unfortunately it was the same story as the week before against Walsall - and
ended with another disasterous result. Reading failed to bounce back from Colchester
United's double strike. Reading had perhaps been the better side in the first
half, but in the second half we failed to get back into the game. Head certainly
dropped, and Reading became desperate. When we couldn't find a way through the
Colchester defence we resorted to desperate long balls pumped forward. There
was no way back - we needed two extra goals in the second half for the win but
couldn't even find one. The win gave Colchester United safety from relegation
- but they were already quite safe from that. It was Reading that desperately
needed victory - but it was Colchester that casually added three points to their
season total with relative ease.
Yet, once again, it all started brightly for the Royals. Colchester had a couple of early attacks that were well dealt with by the Reading defence - by Viveash and Whitbread getting in some good early tackles. But Reading quickly settled into some great attacking football that always looked likely to create some goals. Murty and Igoe were both getting forward well down the wing and coping well with the massive amount of surface water that held up the ball on every attack. It looked like our fast on-the-floor football would pay dividends. Igoe nearly managed to set up McIntyre after a great low cross from the right. Butler almost managed to do the same to Cureton in the middle but the Colchester defence cleared the trouble. Parky had an effort that flew over the bar and Reading were looking well on top. The deserved goal came on 24 minutes when the Murty and Igoe partnership down the right paid off - Igoe played in another low cross which wasn't defended properly. The ball came out to Jamie Cureton who made no mistake in burying the ball into the back of the net. YES! 1-0 to the Royals and Cureton ran over the small section of Reading fans in the seats behind the goal and signaled 3 and 0 with his two hands - it was his thirtieth goal of the season. We couldn't be any happier.
Reading didn't sit back on the lead and pressed for the second. If it had come then we could well have gone on to win. But it didn't. Butler and Cureton were getting excellent service with a series of decent low passes from the centre of midfield and from the full backs. It was looking good. Butler and Cureton combined twice to create decent goal scoring opportunities. Butler crossed to Cureton whose shot from the middle of the area was well saved by the Colchester United keeper who got down well to his right to push it wide. Moments later the two front men combined again - with Cureton crossing low from the right to Butler in the middle of the box whose shot was blocked by the home defence. Colchester may have been looking second best but they were far from being out of the game. After a bit of pressure they equalised with ten minutes of the half remaining. A good cross from the left was met with an excellent header that buried itself into the right side of the net. 1-1.
At 1-1, Reading still looked like they could go on to win. Igoe continued to look lively, McIntyre was working very hard up front, and you always felt that we could create more chances. Overall we were running the midfield with Harper and Parkinson both doing well in winning the ball back. Igoe nearly set up Cureton for another shot on goal - but Cureton was blocked as he shot. With half time looming everything suddenly changed. Colchester crossed the ball in from the left - Whitehead claimed it and then the referee stopped play. Moments later he appeared to be giving a penalty to the home side. It didn't make any sense. None of us had seen anything, I still haven't got a clue what it was for. No clear foul, no clear handball. Nothing. But Danson, the referee, had clearly seen something we hadn't. Up stepped Skelton for Colchester and stuck it firmly into the left side of the net clear of Phil Whitehead.
Danson was hardly popular with the Reading fans at this point - but then did himself no favours by missing a clear Colchester handball just before the break. Reading went on the attack trying to repair the damage and as the ball dropped in the area it was handled as clear as anything - both hands on the ball. A definate penalty - and not given. It was clear the luck wasn't going our way today. The goal before half time seemed to kill us off. It might have been a dodgy penalty, but we still should have bounced back from it. In the second half we were a different side. Danson did his best to ruin the game by stopping play every two seconds for no good reason - with hardly anything going our way. Not long after the restart Cureton was brought down in the area, but no penalty was given.
It would be easy to blame the referee or the state of the pitch, but these weren't the real reasons we lost. Reading looked devoid of any ideas in the second half and lost our pattern of play. After our first half performance we had every reason to think we were still capable of winning the game - but the goal before half time had a serious effect on the team. Head dropped, the decent football disappeared, and every Reading player looked nervous or knackered, or both. Harper had had a superb second half but faded out badly as passes started to fail to find targets. Murty had been outstanding in the first half but resorted to long hoofs up the pitch instead of running it forward and laying it off like he'd done so well in the first half. Butler and Cureton's service dryed up. Rougier came on but hardly got a touch of the ball as we seemed to avoid playing it out to the left for some reason. Forster failed to find any way through. Reading were limited to just a few chances by a strong Colchester defence - when we did find a way through we found the home keeper in excellent form as he pulled off an excellent block from a close range Butler shot.
Reading need to take time out before the play-offs and address the tactics. Today was a good example as any that we can be a good side when we're playing proper passing football - and a very average side when we resort to the long ball game. We're going to need something special to win the play-offs. We're capable of going all the way and still gaining promotion and we've got to put the automatic promotion disappointment behind us.
Post Match Opinions
Having slept on it, my original report was going to be.. Bollocks,
I wasn't there so I cannot gauge the mood, but I guess there are some
sore heads after sorrows being drowned. So it's the play-offs and we're
all disappointed (putting it politely). Let's try and be positive, it
has been a fantatstic season, just for once, and we could all be celebrating
in Cardiff! So get behind the lads again, be positive and let's make the
Bournemouth game a rousing end to the term before the nail-biting starts.
Just as i predicted,we are not as good as we think we are, Millwall
and Rotherham deserve their sucess because they play as a unit, while
Reading i'm afraid have struggled to impress,and have looked disjointed
Bloody gutted! We just keep under achieving against teams we really
should be beating.Now the Lottery of the play offs, i just can`t see us
doing it, certainly not after yesterdays debacle! Still we`ll see, fingers
crossed,and well done to all at the club in which after all wasn't a bad
So we ended up in the play offs and to cap it all itís just started
raining, so I thought Iíd put down on paper my feelings over this weekend.
All we need to say about Colchester is that weíve lost 6 points to them,
a team near the bottom, and we couldnít even keep it all going to the
last game of the season.
It's been a long time since I've seen the Royals play. Seven years
living and working in Shetland and since moving to Leicestershire in the
last few months has cut down my opportunites. Some may dismiss my views
on that basis but here goes anyway:
Bitterly Dissapointing, Humiliating, Depressing, yet again Reading
blow it, after the 2-0 win at Oxford I seriously beleived we were on our
way to automatic promotion, how wrong I was. Make no mistake this was
a woefully inept performance. After going 1-0 up for the upteenth time
this season we were unable to hold on to a lead. Pards has to address
the problem of our fullbacks, if there is a worst fullback in the division
than Matty Robinson ill be surprised and Murty's certainly not a rightback,
where was he for the first goal, get tight to the player & prevent the
cross, basic stuff.
So it is a massive disappointment, and naturally everyone looks for
someone to blame, whether a player, a referee, a manager or another team.
All this doesn't hide the fact that Alan Pardew and Martin Allen have
turned a side that was relegation fodder to championship contenders within
one season. Of course I am disappointed and frustrated, but this season,
unlike the several before, I have been entertained. We not only have household
names at the club but genuine personalities, the kind of players your
kids can idolise. Sure, we need to look at our midfield - until we win
the European Cup 3 times in a row we always will. However transfer deadline
day is not the day to do it - Burns proved that beyond all doubt.
We haven't made automatic promotion! O.K.Disappointing! Especially
when we were so close. However, at the beginining of the season we'd have
bitten someones hand off for a play-off place. We have acheived that,
so well done Pards, Mad Dog and the lads (not to forget a great effort
by the fans).
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