Match Report vs Oxford

13 September 1997 (League Division One)

Att: 9,003

Team: Mautone, Bernal, Sandford, Robins, McPherson, Primus, Parkinson, Hodges, Asaba (Roach), Meaker, Lambert (Swales).

So, Reading at last win their first league game of the season after six previous attempts. And the perfect game to do it in, against our local rivals, the Poxford. This was make and break time for the Royals, and Bullivant in particular, nothing but a win would do. Another defeat, in the last ever Thames Valley derby game at Elm Park, and crisis would have been declared. As it is it's all smiles as Reading claw their way off the bottom of the table. It wasn't a brilliant performance by the Royals but it wasn't that bad at all. Lots of effort on display and every now and again a bit of skill. At last Asaba ended his league scoring drought, and in doing so he earns some respect from the South Bank.

But it wasn't a good start. Oxford took the lead after just two minutes. A long ball played forward into the Reading half found two Oxford players standing way offside. The linesman's flag went straight up but the referee waved play on as the Reading defence froze waiting for a whistle. Big mistake. Macca let his man run on by himself with just Mautone to beat. Moments later the ball is in the back of the net for the worst start possible. To be fair the referee was well positioned and it seems he let it go because the ball took a deflection of Meaker on its way forward. Bollocks.

For the next fifteen minutes it look like it's going to be Swindon all over again. Reading are all over the place and Oxford are starting to look far too comfortable with the ball. The midfield is won by the opposition and they're knocking it around into space, although thankfully not going anywhere. The Reading defence holds out and then we start to get on top at last. Hodges lets fly with a great effort from just outside the box, it looks like it's going in but flys just wide of the left post.

A few minutes later Reading win a corner on the left. And it's a good one from Meaker who finds Robins in the area. Robins flicks it on to an unmarked Carl Asaba lurking on the far post. But hang on, bugger, it's going towards his head. But fear not, as Asaba reveals after the game, the South Bank are all blowing at once, and the ball glides off Asaba's head and down into the base of the net. YES! 1-1, and Asaba is off the mark. Twenty minutes ago Asaba's name was jeered, but now he's scored against the Pox, and now his name is chanted. Footie fans, eh?

Reading relax. Oxford look a bit worse and Reading almost go 2-1 up as Asaba goes on a great run into the box. He goes round one player, heads towards goal, but as his foot comes back to shoot the tackle comes in and the ball spins out for another Reading corner. Asaba perhaps should have buried it, but a nice effort anyway.

Already there are two players standing out. Hodges and Parkie. Outstanding. Parkie is the perfect example of how to play with complete effort and determination. Parkie was battleing for the ball all over the place, some wonderful two footed tackles and avoiding any yellow cards. But then he was also laying the ball off into space. Fantastic. Hodges after scoring for the Royals against QPR is a changed man. He looks good now with some Parkie style effort and actually winning the ball. Then these two continue to impress by both almost putting the Royals ahead before the break. Hodges tried another long range job, and then Parkie followed with a powerful drive, just right of centre on the edge of the box, that needed a decent save from the Oxford keeper.

After a positive start from Oxford the game was quickly turning in Reading's favour. As the half time whistle blew we were unlucky to be only level. A dubious goal for the scum and a number of Reading efforts narrowly missing the target.

Unfortunately Reading seemed to cool down a bit over half time with Oxford starting the half in improved fashion, keeping possesion. Oxford really should have taken the lead after about 55 minutes. A ball across the pitch found their number nine ahead of the Reading defence but well onside. He ran free, but with Mautone closing in, was guilty of a horrendous miss putting the ball wide of the right post. But that was their chance.

Moments later Asaba played a nice ball into Robins who found his target blocked by an Oxford player. Then with 60 minutes gone Meaker, who'd been struggling to break through down the right, completed a nice run down the wing with a great low cross to Robins in the middle of the area. Robins connected well. The Oxford keeper couldn't hang onto the shot and pushed it out into the path of Lee Hodges. Hodges ran inside the six yards box and burried it from close range. 2-1 to the Royals!

After being involved in both goals Meaker almost created a third with another great cross from the right. Lambert, racing into the box, connected and was unlucky not to see his shot hit the back of the net.

With the game won Reading deceided to play it safe and played out the last ten minutes of the game in the most negative fashion possible. More blantant time wasting you'll never see. Meaker moved into the corner of the pitch shielding the ball to win a throw. Then the same again to win a corner. Then a short corner for a throw. Then the same again. And again. By the third corner I thought we might try and put one into the box. But no. Still, never mind. The final whistle went and Reading had beaten Oxford 2-1. Phew. Three league points at last.


And heres another report from Phil Newton!

We were all in a reasonably buoyant mood as we filed into Elm Park, mostly 'cos there was no chance of Holsgrove playing now that he's at Grimsby, and the team news was fairly promising, 4 at the back, with Skippy at right back and Parkie as Mr Kick-em-up, Lambert and Meakon out wide and Hodges in behind Asaba and Robins.

Our buoyant mood was rapidly flattened after 2 minutes, we had started OK, passing it about, Oxford, got the ball, punted it over the top to Jemson, who was (AT LEAST) Six feet offside, linesmans flag went up, Reading players stopped, Jemson stopped, everything stopped....except the ref, apart from to quickly tuck his black top in so that the Oxford one underneath wwasn't showing. "Play on" he waved. The linesman, fearful of reffy-weffy telling him off and not giving him his half-time rogering put his bloody flag DOWN, Jemson couldn't believe it, and rounded Steeeevo to score.

The Ref was cursed, his parentage and personal sexual habits questioned, letters to the FA drafted and a "here we go again" feeling decended upon us, tho' immediate choruses of "come on Reading" etc showed that we still had faith! The team responded positively, passing it about, Asaba had a great chance, running straight through the Oxford defence, but he kicked it too far in front of himself and was too wide when he tried, and failed, with a "shot".

We remained composed, and pressure bought a corner, the high ball into the box caused all sorts of problems, and it was pinging about for AGES before finally being cleared. Another corner soon after was flicked on at the nearpost (by Hodges?), for Asaba to, er, bend down and guide it in!
With his head!

The Oxford fans weren't too impressed, and a sea of fluorescent coppers were bought in to stop things getting fruity.
The rest of the first half was ours.
We started the second half in the same way, and after clever work by Meaker on the right (actually deciding to cross it in rather than (attempt to) beat more players), his deflected cross bought an excellent shot on the turn from Robins(?) which Jackson couldn't hold, and after what seemed like 3 years, Hodges was first in the queue of Reading players waiting to ram it home.

Cue pandemonium amongst both sets of fans, we were still jumping up and down when Asaba had an absolutely cracking chance to make it 3-1, from the kick off they gave it straight to him, he ran straight through them (again) was past the last man (again) before kicking too far in front of himself (again) and Jackson had enough chance to come out to block the shot, which was straight at him, instead of over/round him. Asaba looked absolutely gutted, and ran around after the ball no matter where it went.

We didn't care too much, as we were winning!, and we'd scored 2 goals! Oxford had their best spell of the game, but didn't really create much in the way of chances, Lambert made way for Swales, a sound move, and Asaba went off for Nev, when the peoples choice would have been Robins for Nev, but maybe Robins has, er, better defensive qualities? We succesfully managed to play keep ball for the last few minutes, the Oxford fans sat by the far corner flag seeing much more of the ball than they wanted.

Full time, and we had been easy victors.

It wasn't perfect, there were still elementary mistakes, and balls to team mates who weren't there, having mis-read their team mates intention, but we were the better team again, and finally had something to show for it. Parky was the man of the match by a mile, he was everywhere doing everything a la Geordie, and even manged to get one of their players booked by pushing him.

He also managed a whole game without a card himself, as did Skippy, we were hard in the tackle, but seemed to come out with the ball. If we play like this on tuesday we should piss on Quinnterborough, provided the boys can control themselves and not get sent off for breaking the Bald Mans legs in the first five minutes.

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