Reading 2-2 Millwall ~ l Match Report
by, 07-08-2011 at 12:49 PM (9793 Views)
Was that the longest break from football in the history of Christendom? It certainly felt like it to MrsB and me but at last we can awaken from hibernation and venture out once more in the dear old Bonemobile to set forth across this green and pleasant land to see the mighty Lions take on a division that is looking for all intents and purposes like a premiership mark II.
A nice easy jaunt down the M4 to Reading is a decent enough place to start our journey and a chance to see the lads take on one of the favourites for promotion.
The team has moved on since last term, Morison has departed along with Bomber and a fair few others and we have got some new meat to chew over in the shape of Darius Henderson amongst a few new faces and the prospect of young Johnny Marquis stepping up to the plate as a first choice striker.
Pre season has seen us return an undefeated card and some impressive displays albeit against some pretty low-key opponents but a winning mentality is born from winning games and that is how pre season should be.
We were joined by Del & Lin as we set off earlyish to try an avoid the dear old British holiday makers but all to no avail as we soon got stuck in traffic and this continued all the way to the M4. We joined a slow moving convoy gently chugging its way out of London like a procession of multi coloured boxes on wheels, determined to break free at the first opportunity.
Mahatma Ghandi once told me that, and I misquote, "There is more to life than increasing your speed." But even the old reprobate himself would have had buggerations braying from his insipid frame if he had a 3.00pm kick off looming on the horizon, the silly old sod.
But panic stations were soon over as we coasted out to the natural home of the Berks in Berkshire, Reading FC. Not so much a football club, more of a community centre for chinless wonders that call football soccer and have London Irish as their ‘second’ team.
A complete sell out for the Lions saw a packed away end in full cry as the teams ambled onto the pitch, Kenny Jackett, all business like in his shirt and trousers combo, it is fair to say the expectations were starting to climb a little bit too high for my pessimistic liking.
The team was as follows: Forde, Dunne, Craig, Ward, Robinson, Trotter, Mkandawire, Bouazza, Henry, Henderson & Marquis,
We don’t actually have a decent record against the Berks and last season it is hurting to write that they gave us a bit of a footballing lesson but we are nothing if not game and as referee Bates got the season under way we got caught out within seconds as a loose ball from midfield saw Hunt get through all alone but some fine work from Forde prevented the earliest goal from the 3 o’ clock kick offs being against us.
They had another effort soon after that troubled no one but the hordes behind the Millwall goal and then it was our turn to get going as we quickly pulled two decent efforts out of the bag, the first from Trotter which shot across the face of the goal and then an even closer effort from Bouazza that had us all gasping.
We were gaining confidence now and with Henry and Bouazza marauding down the flanks and it was the former whose speculative cross got deflected by a defender only for ‘keeper Federici to somehow claim it before it went into the net.
Henderson was looking the part, a little bit quicker than perhaps we thought and more than capable of winning his fair share of headers and he created another chance by sheer determination as he chased a wayward ball and crossed it into the box for the waiting Marquis but the eager youngster was beaten to the ball by a defender who headed over for a Millwall corner.
Henry’s follow up corner saw Tam Mkandawire in a great position but he couldn’t direct his header on target. It was all positive stuff from the Lions as we probed and pushed the home side all over the pitch.
Reading had a little bit of a purple patch after this but the defence held firm and they really didn’t get a sniff of Forde’s goal at all.
We finished the half in the ascendency and when Mkandawire picked up the ball in the centre of the park he spotted Henry making a run and his curving pass saw straight race between Henry and the ageing Ian Harte so there was only going to be one winner but as Henry cleared the lines his final shot although struck sweetly, went flying wide of the mark.
Mr Jackett must’ve been pleased with the first half performance as, indeed, the majority of the Lions fans were but whatever pep talk he gave during the break needs to be bottled and administered wherever necessary as we cam flying out of the traps and bombarded the home defence from the off and after about three minutes of attacking play we got our seasons goal tally off the mark with a superb piece of pressure that had the home defence all over the place and as Henry looped the ball into the box there was Henderson waiting to pounce with a simple header into the net. 0-1! The noise was immense as the celebrations cascaded across the away end.
Complacency was not an option though as moments later the dangerous Shane Long finally got a sniff of a chance and his shot clipped the top of Forde’s bar with our ‘keeper well beaten.
The warning was headed as we closed the game down and started to control the game quite well and the frustrated home team were clearly being outplayed and around the sixty minute mark we rubber stamped our authority with another well worked goal as Trotter found space on the right of the box with a quick one-two with Henry and his cross found Marquis unmarked at the far post and he headed home comfortably. 0-2!! Fantastic stuff from the Lions and well deserved it was, too.
We kept the attacking play going and Marquis was unlucky with a well struck shot (that took a bit of a deflection) that fell kindly for Federici in the Reading goal.
There comes a moment, sometimes, in a football match where something happens that sort of defines a feeling and this was the case in point when Trotter robbed the home side of possession in the middle of the park and slipped a neat ball through to Johnny Marquis who sped unchallenged towards goal, we all looked for the inevitable flag for off side but it stayed down and Marquis was through on goal and although this may sound strange, he had too much time to make a decision and as Federici raced towards him he chose to hit a shot that somehow hit the inside of Federici’s legs and the chance was gone as quickly as it was created.
That would have been game over as far as I am concerned but Reading had enough experience to know that if they got one back it would make all the difference as well and as the clock was running down, with literally five minutes of normal play left, disaster struck as the powerfully built Manset seemed to be allowed to move ominously towards our goal unchallenged and he hit a ferocious shot that gave Forde no chance whatsoever. 1-2 and alarm bells were now ringing.
The home side’s tails were up now and they sensed a possible equaliser might well be on the cards and we watched in horror as Kebe crossed a ball in from the right wing and there was Manset to head in an unchallenged equaliser, our fears realised in the space of three minutes. 2-2…
To our credit though, we did capitulate and we took the game back to them in the dying moments of an enthralling match and we should really have bagged all three points despite the late resurgence by Reading. Robbo twice had headers go close from corners and when sub Hackett, on for Henry, found room down his favoured right side he struck a low cross that went across the face of the goal and just past the out stretched boot of Henderson for what would have been a well deserved winner.
And even then there was still time for Barron (on as sub for Bouazza) to hit a stinger of a shot that was brilliantly saved by Federici in the Reading goal.
At the final whistle the immediate feeling was one of disappointment as we had watched a 2 goal lead evaporate with minutes remaining but on reflection it was a very decent performance by the Lions against a side that, who but for the grace of the Gods of football, would be starting this season in the Premier league.
If a draw was on offer before we had kicked off then I suspect a majority of us would have taken it and I wager that not many teams will come away from Reading with a point in the bag.
So we should not be too hard on the lads, it was a good start to the season and it was a very enjoyable afternoons football.
No time to waste though as we have to turn our attentions to the cup and we are off down to sunny Devon to take on Plymouth on Tuesday night. By coincidence, me and MrsB have booked a week’s holiday in Devon this very week so we will be popping along to Home Park to cheer the lads on J
See you all there?