Wednesday, August 10, 2005

WITHDEAN & I Brighton 0-2 Reading

Pride Park, St Marys, The KC Stadium, The Ricoh Arena, The Britannia Stadium, The Withdean - all will host RFC at some time this season and each is an example of fine new football stadia. All, that is, except one. The odd one out being the Withdean, Brighton's 'temporary' home. The capacity of this athletics stadium with its uncovered seating is less than 7,000. Such a reduced capacity might go someway to explaing why Brighton & Hove Albion FC feel justified in charging visiting supporters £22.50 a throw to sit on what basically amounts to scaffolding, open to the elements.

Floyd on Football has made two previous visits to the Withdean and, naturally, on both ocassions the weather was damper than Leslie Grantham on a web-cam. It was with a degree of relief that this season's visit to Sussex was scheduled for August and a mild, rain free evening was enjoyed by several hundred Reading supporters who braved the frankly shocking view from the 'climbing frame' behind the corner flag. It's unfortunate for Brighton that due to the malpractice of a previous regime, they are left without a proper football stadium of their own and a shame for visiting supporters who, through the scarcity of available tickets, miss out on a lovely trip to what the locals refer to as good old Sussex by the sea. Floyd on Football was determined that a nice sunny day wouldn't be ruined by poor facilities and even poorer football in the evening, and decided that a pre-match stroll along the prom-prom-prom was in order, although it was a tad disappointing that there was no brass band to serenade us with "tiddly-om-pom-pom f*ck off Mark McGhee".

Talking of McGhee, the ego has well and truly crash-landed. At christmas 1994 he disappeared down Leicester City's chimney citing ambition or more precisely John Madejski's lack of it. A little over ten years later, via Wolverhampton and South Bermondsey, he has ended up as numero 1 at this ramshackle excuse of a stadium the Withdean, whilst his former employer built RFC a magnificent new 24,000-seated home. The grass isn't always greener on the other side and in Mr McGhee's case his new lawn is weed-ridden and the planning permission on the new conservatory is proving problematic. Whereas in times past he was public enemy number one, now he has fallen with a bump to very humble surroundings Reading supporters just enjoy abusing him for the very fact that the man has an over-exagerrated sense of his own self worth and never fails to bite when we taunt him. At the Withdean last night, the travelling support teased him about his wide girth and he merely glanced back at us disdainfully rather than, say pat his stomach - he'd probably be applauded and respected a bit more if he did ever show himself to be humble with a sense of humour. His post-match rantings after each defeat by Reading only serve to become more and more embittered ["I still get a lot of abuse from Reading fans, which I think is totally unwarranted"] and give us the satisfaction that we have got to him which we clearly succeed in doing time after time after time.

You'd think McGhee would have more to worry about than the Reading supporters anyway. His team is a poor one in Championship terms and mere survaival, given their current means, would be no mean feet. Reading won this at a canter, scoring at important times, soaking up Brighton pressure with ease and registering our first win of the season to leave us handily placed in 8th place ahead of a trip north to Preston on Saturday. Glenn Little it was who opened the scoring with him first goal in 15 months after 15 minutes play. His freekick, following a foul on Kitson, was a mediocre ball into the box which nestled beyond Brighton's keeper Henderson into the bottom corner. The excellent Kitson powered in a trademark header after around 15 minutes in the second half from a Shorey cross and it was an easy sprint for Reading at this athletics ground from then on. Lita missed a chance or two and at the other end Hahnemann dealt comfortbaly with a long range fizzer or two but overall, after out 5th win in our last 6 visits to Brighton, we certainly do like to be beside the seaside.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Little (Oster, 61), Sidwell, Harper, Convey (Hunt, 75), Kitson, Lita (Doyle, 82). Subs not used: Stack, Makin.

Floyd's favourite: Dave Kitson, fully fit and yet again the difference between Reading and mediocre opposition. As hungry for victory as McGhee is for a Ginster's pasty.


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