23 September 1998
Reading 1 Barnsley 1
Barnsley win 1-4 on aggregate
Howie, Booty, McPherson, Glasgow , Primus, Casper, Hadland (Brayson), Houghton (Caskey), Parkinson, Williams, Gray.
Ten pounds that cost me. Ten pounds to watch nothing more than a kick around. Reading made no attempt to win this game at all. Everything was slow, dull, predicatable and pointless. The Burnley and Colchester games dullness rolled into one. Yes, more bollocks I'm afraid.
We'd already lost this tie after going 3 goals down at Barnsley. So we had nothing to lose - we should have gone at them like mad bastards and lost 3-4 or something. Bansley had come to do nothing - they didn't need to do anything. And so they were perfectly content to let Reading have all of the ball, watch us tap it around in circles and backwards, sit back, and occassionally win the ball on the odd occassion we got anywhere inside their half. It was like every player was scared to do something in fear of doing something wrong. They're all shit scared of losing their place in a team that changes every game, and as such take it careful as anything - and do nothing adventurous, nothing exciting, and nothing that gives even a whiff of goal scoring potential.
The loudest cheers of the evening went to last season's player of the year Phil Parkinson making a rare start in midfield for the Royals. Should he go to Wycombe, or bugger off to anywhere else, it would be suicide for Mr.Burns. He's popular. And he wasn't even that good tonight - he's popular because of the effort and comitment. He try's to win the game - an impression the team as a whole don't give. I almost wanted to give him a standing ovation when he picked up his traditional yellow card tonight for an over zealous "tackle".
Other changes on the pitch saw Howie back in goal with Hammond injured again, Glasgow making another start, and Hadland making his Reading first team debut - on the left wing, no right wing, well everywhere really, - with Mass "we're not worthy" Sarr out suspended. The first half was terrible. It was hard to keep my eyes open. With the East Stand concourse bars at last selling beer (two quid a pint) the one pre-match pint was enough to send me to sleep. Or maybe it was the football doing that. Or perhaps the complete silence across the East Stand for the whole first half.
The first half. Well... Reading failed to make any real attempts on goal. Williams had perhaps the best chance, failing to connect properly with a cross from the right aimed at his head. It was all Reading, but going nowhere, and Barnsley were always more likely to score. They almost did about halfway through the half when Howie did well to reach a cross. The ball came out to the left and the lob towards the back of the net found Primus making vital goal-line contact to steer the ball away from goal.
The second half. Well... more of the same. Houghton got slower and his passes got shorter. Like watching a slow game of ping-pong - but without much "ping". We must have forgot to use up our "shite-back-pass" quota - so we started making up for lost time. Gray did less and less and got tackled even easier. So off went Houghton to be replaced by Caskey while Phil "I've played 4389734 games this week" Hadland was replaced by Brayson.
Wise substitutions. For a while I thought Reading picked up a bit. The game speeded up a little bit and our passes starting going forward. The East Stand starting singing. A bit more like it. And then of course Barnsley scored. Ball from the right to the man on the left, Howie came for it, Primus stood in the middle - doing his wall bit but the wrong side of the man, and it came back across to the Barnsley forward in the centre who fired it in past Casper on the goal line. Barnsley then continued to go mad - 0-4 up on aggregate they just started taking the piss. For the next five minutes there were all kinds of seriously powerful long shots flying in from all over the place. Luckily Howie was in top form. Some of those shots must have hurt, the ball was flying just wide, against the bar, and all over the place. Down the other end Caskey replied with a weak effort from outside the box into the keepers arms.
With the game deep into injury time, half the crowd had left, and the other half about to boo the team of the pitch, Williams won Reading a penalty after being brought down in the box. Up stepped Caskey to fire the ball high in the back of the net to grab an undeserved 1-1 draw. Just in time to calm the home fans down. Perhaps a vital goal for Tommy Burns.
Postitive points! Yes, there
are some! We're still undefeated at the Mad House (just). Five games and not
a defeat. Perhaps if we manage to find some form we can keep this record going.
Phil Hadland. A very positive point. Coming straight in from the youth team
to starting the game against a First Divsion team - and looking that good is
fantastic. A great debut - particually the first half - there must be some good
stuff to come from this lad. Another positive point - the cunning PR ploy of
letting in 2,000 kiddies in for free in the North Stand, which would have been
entirely empty otherwise, to give an artifically high attendance. Shame they
saw this pile of pants tonight - otherwise they might have come back. At least
it generated a rather great "until your balls have dropped, don't sing"
Fun for all the family at the Mad House tonight.