VANS ROUND THREE
SWANSEA CITY 1 READING 0 (Half Time: 0-0)
Swansea City Scorers: Savarese (75 mins)
|Date: 30 January
Reading: Howie, Murty, Viveash, Hunter (Mackie), Newman, Parkinson, Caskey, Igoe, Cureton, Rougier (Butler), McIntyre (Hodges). Subs not used: Gamble, Ashdown.
Swansea City: Freestone, Howard, Smith, Savarese, O'Leary, Lacey, Roberts, Price, Jenkins, Keegan (Casey (Cusack)), Romo. Subs not used: Bound, Mounty, Boyd.
Bookings: Hunter, McIntyre, Murty, Newman (Reading); Howard (Swansea).
A truly abysmal performance by the Royals ensured another season without cup success, as an almost full-strength Reading side lost 1-0 at struggling Swansea. Despite the encouraging performances against Stoke and Bristol Rovers, Pardew decided to mess around with the defence again, and the result was another disappointing away defeat. While some argue that the LDV trophy is pointless, a win would have taken us into next week's games with some degree of confidence. However, after this performance, next Tuesday's trip to Bournemouth is looking increasingly worrying.
It is hard to understand why Pardew shifted the back four round once again. If he had included some of the fringe players to give them some experience, perhaps the changes would have made sense. However, he instead decided to move Graeme Murty back from right midfield to right back, despite his decent performances in the middle. This meant Ricky Newman had to switch to left-back, and the improving Stuart Gray was dropped. This decision effectively cost us the match, as the game's only goal came after some disastrous defending by Newman. The rest of the team was the same as had beaten Bristol Rovers, except Sammy Igoe was brought into the midfield to take over Murty's role on the right, and Scott Howie was in goal.
The first half saw very poor football from both sides, as Swansea's physical defence succeeded in shutting Rougier, Cureton and Igoe out of the game. It was hard to believe that this was the side we had destroyed 5-1 at the Madejski, as today we struggled to have five shots on goal throughout the whole game. The only chances for the Royals in the first half came from Darren Caskey, as twice he went close to putting Reading in the lead. His first effort was a free-kick, much further out from goal than his usual attempts. Caskey put some power on it as well his usual swerve, and the shot went narrowly wide. He had another shot close to half-time, but again found the wrong side of the post.
Swansea's best chance of the half came when Graeme Murty lost possession in a dangerous position. The ball was played through to Stuart Roberts, and the Swansea striker had a clear run at goal. He shot early, but Scott Howie in the Reading goal saved well and pushed it out for a corner. Howie had a good game, and showed tonight that Whitehead's position in the first team isn't guaranteed. Howie also looks to have improved his kicking, and he put greater distance on some of his clearances than Whitehead ever manages.
The second half saw the introduction of Martin Butler, who had scored a hat-trick in September's meeting with the Swans. Rougier was taken off after one of his least effective performances for the Royals. The change made very little difference, as Reading looked even less creative in the second half than they had in the first.
Jim McIntyre came very close to a spectacular goal, as his 30 yard shot was well saved by Freestone in the Swansea goal mid-way through the second half. Shortly afterwards, McIntyre was replaced with Lee Hodges. Again, the substitution has to be questioned, since McIntyre was one of our better players tonight.
Swansea were looking the better of two poor sides, and they scored the decisive goal with fifteen minutes left. Ricky Newman won the ball off Roberts on the right, but instead of clearing he decided to dribble it into his own box. Roberts won it back off him, and crossed for Saverese to head in at the far post. It was a poor goal to concede, and perhaps wouldn't have happened if Pardew had stuck with the back four that had shut out Stoke and Bristol Rovers.
The last quarter of an hour saw Swansea keep possession well, forcing the Reading players into a number of stupid tackles in attempting to win the ball back. Hunter, Murty and Newman were all shown yellow cards for fouls, joining McIntyre in the referee's book. When Reading finally got a promising looking attack together, the ref blew his final whistle and we were out of another competition.
Pardew's experiments resulted in yet another away defeat tonight. A game like this should either have been used to give some youngsters a bit of experience, or to give the first eleven some match practice after Saturday's postponement. Instead, Pardew pointlessly moved players out of position, and selected a side that was totally ineffective tonight. The players also deserve some of the blame, as most of them didn't look too bothered tonight (with the exceptions of Parky, Caskey and McIntyre). This defeat won't matter too much if we can beat Port Vale on Saturday, but a much improved performance is required if we are to do so.
Report by Neil Cole
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