FC 0 - 0 Plymouth Argyle
Coca-Cola Championship: Reading FC 0 - 0 Plymouth
In his best move since dating Cilla black, Reading
Chairman John Madjeski pulled off another business master-stroke
by hiring Elvis impersonator Paul Rouse for the pre-match entertainment.
In an eerie premonition of what was to come, he sang "A Little
less conversation (A little more action please)" - a phrase
I was to mentally repeat so many times during the next 108 minutes.
Except I changed the word "action" to "goals"
and "conversation" to "piss-poor crossing".
Hopes were high today. Even though Reading had
failed to win a a league game since Boxing Day and only scored 3
goals in the last 6 weeks, this was a home game against 5th from
bottom Plymouth and we had ex-premiership stars Les Ferdinand and
Martin Keown ready to reverse our ill-fortunes.
When Les appeared
time seemed to go into slow motion. He trotted out on to the
pitch in a soft-focus haze looking like a knight in shining
armour, his smile as white as the white hoops around his chest.
Or maybe it was just because I had forgotten to wear my contact
Reading dominated the play throughout the
first half, but each attack was let down by the final ball.
There were no highlights from the first 45, both side played
dismally. Ferdinand looked slow and despite a headed attempt
on goal, he made little impact on his full debut. For Plymouth,
only Dexter Blackstock, on-loan from Southampton, looked threatening.
The crowd began to turn against Reading as each
attack broke down and disillusionment grew with each unsuccessful
cross or miss-pass.
Reading mascot Kinsley Royal did little to improve
the mood, spending most of his time standing by the exit. He doesn't
do much to get the crowd going. At one point he lifted up his shirt
and rubbed his furry nipple! Personally I think he could make some
more effort. I know people that would give their right arm to dress
up as a lion every other weekend.
Here is my controversial new theory: allow the
other team to score a goal.
Sounds crazy, but I am sure that if Plymouth
had scored early then Reading would have gone on to win the match.
They would have pressed hard for an equaliser, scored before half
time, then buoyed with confidence, netted the winner in the second
half. So if I were Steve Coppell I would have had a sneaky word
with keeper Hahnemann before kick-off and instructed him to "accidentally"
let a Plymouth shot go in inside the first 30 minutes, if the score
This tactic only works if you are playing a much
weaker side at home. But think about it. Mourino will probably use
this strategy against Barcelona - just watch.
At times during the 2nd half it was like Reading
were playing against a table-football team. Plymouth didn't do much
at all except wobble about and kick the ball up field after Reading
gave it away to them every five minutes. Shorey had a few chances,
Forster clipped the crossbar and Glen Little shot wide late on,
but it was a case of far too little, far too late for the Royals.
Coppell even made a bizarre substitution on 82 minutes, swapping
Ferdinand for Keown. Exchanging a striker for a defender in the
final minutes of a must-win home game left frustrated Reading fans
scratching their heads.
It was a very frustrating afternoon of scrappy,
uncreative football. Reading should be beating the lower teams in
the division by 2 or 3 clear goals, especially at home and I don't
think old men like Ferdinand and Keown are the solution to Reading's
goal drought. Amazingly they have managed to hang on to 4th place
in the Championship, but with performances like this, it won't be
long before we drop out of the play-off positions. Bring back Jimmy
Quinn I say.