Match Report vs SWINDON TOWN

16 August 1997 (League Division One)

Att: 9,336

Team: Mautone, Booty (Meaker), Swales, Wdowczyk, McPherson, Primus, Bernal, Holsgrove (Glasgow), Asaba, Hodges (Roach), Lambert.

Complete Bollocks.

Is there anything worse than losing at home to Swindle Town?

Uninspiring shit for 90 minutes in a game we had to win! A defence entirely incapable of dealing with a troublesome Swindon forward who gave the visitors a lead on 18 minutes and almost added to it a few minutes later. And an attack that never looked like scoring despite one million pounds worth, or so we're told, of 'talent'. And it's not as though the opposition was actually any good. That's enough said probably.

Someone's pointed out that paragraph was probably a little harsh. Maybe they're right. Yes, it's early days. Yes, the new setup hasn't had time to adjust and neither have the players. But, we have just lost to Swindon.

Oh well, heres P.A.Jones report if you can stomach it...

I'm so disappointed. What a let-down! I have been eagerly awaiting this game, and the dawn of the new football era at EP, all summer, and it was such an anti-climax. The match report in the Sindy suggested that Swindon were in control and Reading were toothless, but only the latter is really fair.

It was a scorcher at EP and the weather obviously took its toll on the players and the game as a spectacle. The only change from the mid-week game against Swansea was that Holsgrove came in for Houghton who was on internationl duty for Ireland. Holsgrove? TB has seemed very sensible in virtually all his decisions to date, but why he thinks that Holsgrove is going to be able to play the role of the play-maker in a three man midfield is beyond me.

Early on, Reading looked promising enough. Booty and Swales hared up and down in the wing back positions. Asaba had a few good touches. Dariusz looked statesmanlike sweeping up.

Then, disaster struck- Reading's defence suddenly froze and watched with interest as Chris Hay thumped the ball past Mautone in their first attack.

It was then that Reading's weakness in midfield became apparent. Lots of confident passing across the back line, but no-one available in midfield capable of receiving the ball and creating a threatening move. Holsgrove in particular was risible. He looked petrified whenver he (briefly) received the ball, and quickly knocked it square and short.

Swindon seemed quite happy just to contain Reading and settle for 1-0. Only Cuervo, their summer signing from St Ettienne looked good. They did get a couple of further breaks as the game wore on, but Mautone proved to be their match.

Half an hour from the end, and it became apparent that 1-0 would be the final score. The game was by now a scrappy, disjointed middle of the park affair, and it was almost a relief to hear the final whistle and get out of there.

I sincerely hope that TB and the rest show a bit more tactical acumen in the future. Apparently TB watched Swindon lose at home to Watford (managed by that tactical genius Graham Taylor) in the CC-cup in the week, so he should have gleaned soem idea about how Swindon would play. It's fair enough to stick to your favoured team and formation whoever you're playing, but if the personnel aren't available you have to rethink. Also, it would be a good idea to vary who's on the bench according to who you're up against. As much as I was glad to see Holsgrove's number held up (why so late?), it was obvious that wee Byron Glasgow wasn't the right player to bolster an overrun midfield.

Anyway, Ray Houghton should be back next week, so hopefully Holsgrove should be out of the team for good. Let's hope that things don't take too long to gel.

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