Thursday, September 29, 2005

MARCHING OUT Southampton 0-0 Reading

Take three top players out of their team and Floyd on Football is of the opinion that any Championship side would struggle away from home at a side recently relegated from the Premiership with an unbeaten home record and just one league defeat anywhere all season. That is exactly what Reading did last night – struggle. It was perhaps fortunate that Southampton’s profligate finishing let us off the hook time and time again so as we could claim a point from a scoreless draw, but then we have hardly had much fortunate on the injury front his season given that we are missing Kitson, Sidwell and Shorey and when you consider that we played half the game last night without our captain Murty who limped off shortly before half time. In such circumstances, the barely deserved point to extend the unbeaten run to a remarkable twelve games is an achievement in itself.

Hand on heart, this was a fortunate point gained for Reading on a rain-drenched night by the Solent. Southampton settled better as the wind swirled around the St Mary’s Stadium and had a guilt edged chance inside 30 seconds. Quashie found himself in acres of space inside the Reading area and, remembering that he is a Scottish international player, he duly thumped the chance well wide. It was the first of a series of narrow escapes as the Reading goal led a charmed life. From a well-worked Dennis Wise corner, Kamil Kosowski had a thunderous effort shoved over the crossbar from the outstanding Hahnemann, who also denied Quashie with another long-ranger and a point-blank header from the otherwise hopeless Kenwyn Jones. Reading in reply offered little other than a couple of towering Ingimarsson headers from corner-kicks which did not unduly bother Antti Niemi.

Referee Graham Poll, stepping down from Premiership duties for 90 minutes, clearly wanted to be the star of the show and he put in a wretched performance. He booked Little and Doyle, undeservedly, in the first half as well as Saints Quashie who was a real sinner. Little, in particular, was booked for an inocuous looking challenge and the irony is, as any Reading supporter will tell you, it's unusual to see our right-winger making any kind of challenge anyway! One of the few decisions Poll go right all game was not awarding a peanlty for Reading as that man Little, tricky all night, danced down the right flank into the box and went down under a challenge by Wise. Little protested angrily in front of the 3,000+ away support who had been irritated by Poll all evening - Floyd on Football was of the opinion that the referee was spot-on in not pointing to the spot.

Chances continued to come thick and fast in the second half, most of them falling to the home side. Sonko and Ingimarsson were in towering form at the back as the conditions made it hard for defenders, and ont he ocassions in which they were beaten, Southampton missed the target woefully with Jones and Fuller the chief culprits. It was like the alamo at times, the ball was scrambled away from the Reading goal-mouth on countless ocassions and Hahnemann was outstanding in denying the hapless Jones and, in spectacular diving fashion, Quashie. Southampton will be disappointed with their finishing which is ultimately the reason they remain 8 points behind Reading.

Rather disappointingly, Reading displayed very little of the dangerous counter-attacking style we've seen this season as convey struggled in the wind and rain and Harper had to play very deep as Southampton hit us with wave after wave of attack. We had our chances though; Convey's effort from distance withother players well placed, Doyle nodding narrowly over after more good work from Little and the lively looking Obinna's header from a last minute corner. Had we nicked it, it would have been tantamount to daylight robbery but a point we'll take as was evident from the grateful roar from the Reading fans at full time. A win Saturday against leaders Sheffield United will cut their lead over us to a mere 3 points and we'll have a better goal difference. We'll need to play rather better to beat them though.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty (Hunt, 38), Makin, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Little, Gunarsson, Harper, Convey, Lita (Obinna, 82), Doyle. Subs not used: Federici, Oster, Baradji.

Floyd’s Favourite: Hahnemann. When Southampton breached the Reading defence they couldn’t beat Hahnemann.


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