who has seen the three previous games will not have recognized the team
who turned up at the Bescot today. Whilst they were a bit hesitant to
start with, what they were able to do was to turn a deficit into a very
creditable draw and an excellent second half performance. Individuals
who have been underperforming, and we can all do that, showed what they
can do. Harper was the epitome of that. He has had a very poor start to
the season. The first half hour showed little signs of that changing.
He was playing on the left (not wide), failed to tackle anybody and looked
out of sorts. After that, he got on the ball used it well and showed what
he is capable of. Murray came on and produced some good quality balls
into the box.
We looked like a team again. We were away from home, drew and had two
goals disallowed and two goal line clearances. We were like a red wine
getting better as the game went on. Against Wimbledon we looked like a
team who had been on the red wine. That was awful, this was good. With
a bit of luck around the goal we would have won. It was the manner of
the performance that mattered. This was the old Reading, this was a performance
to have faith in. We may have thrown away a few too many points this season,
but we have Kitson and Goater to come back. Strangely we looked vulnerable
to the high ball into the box again but that will get better as Williams,
who showed his captain's qualities again today, and Brown, get it together
again. There is merit in playing the Iceman in the centre of midfield
and then it is up to the players as to who else should play.
Today Harper and Murray staked a case for themselves, earlier in the season
it had been Watson. We know what Solako can do, and Hughes who I thought
was our only reasonable player against MK has credit in the bank. Have
faith. Reading fans are incredibly critical. The play offs were a realistic
target at the start of the season and still remain. We still do not know
our best team, but all will have opinions. Today was the start of something
better. I hope!
Didn't fancy this one at all after Boxing Day - but what a difference
48 hours makes - plus some team changes. Owusu on from the start and I
think he won every header he went for. Newman in the middle challenging
and tackling. Brown back to help Williams with the shouting. Confidence
still looked a little shaky in first half and when Walsall scored we thought
we in for it but no - we got better and better.
In the second half we dominated them completely and utterly until they
bought pyramid shaped Merson on with about 5 minutes to go - can someone
explain how a fat bloke like him can run so quickly? We'd had ten minutes
of the limited English language lot behind us shouting about Shorey and
West Ham when he only went and spoiled it by scoring. Must thank him for
that as they shut their gobs after that.
Fly in ointment is Mr USA. Waved his arms at passing balls so often I
thought he'd take off. Can I suggest Nicky Hammond sits behind him next
game, rather than with the rich lot, in order to see him on display. He
doesn't just ball watch, he ball stares to the extent he loses track of
where he's standing and who is in the box with him. He didn't dominate
his area like the 4ft 6inch Walsall keeper did - he potters about like
a fan watching the game. Yes, he saved the second Walsall header that
would have given them a 2-0 lead but his confidence is obviously in bits.
Must be some back four agreement about looking after him cos at times
when any other keeper would pick it up on the edge of the area or take
a pass back to kick clear Williams and Brown took it on themselves to
hoof it away.
But anyway congrats to the whole team and Mr Coppell - whatever he put
in their tea on the coach to the ground worked. If only we'd played like
that 48 hours earlier Wimbledon would have been stuffed.
Tails of Woodley
Much improved. The players seemed to remember they are professionals with
a job to do & showed much of the fight & pride so missing from the last
3 games. And unlucky not to pinch it with the 2 'offside' goals from Murray
& Forster. More of this kind of performance (& better), and less (or rather
none!) of the woeful displays of the last few weeks. No need to rant.
Thank God for that. COME ON....