Sunday, September 11, 2005

TIE Coventry 1-1 Reading

Being sent to Coventry used to be not such a bad thing. The trip to Highfield Road was always an enjoyable one; a proper dedicated bar for away supporters inside the ground where you could get a good pint and a filling cheese roll and then a decent view from the away end in a ground which always seemed to have a good atmosphere. The Ricoh Arena, however, falls into the bracket of identikit stadia - it is utterly devoid of charm, atmosphere is mediocre and the car parking situation is wretched - Coventry fans, welcome to our world (although at least parking around the Madejski is a little easier).

With the plastic sheeting only taken off the shiny 32,000 capacity Ricoh three weeks ago, Reading were eager to become the first visiting team to win there, despite losing the services of Kitson, Sidwell and Shorey through injury. Ricoh. What a bloody daft name for a football stadium that is. "Are you going down the Ricoh on Saturday?". This current trend for naming football grounds after faceless corporations is, in the opinion of Floyd on Football, the most shameless example of penny-pinching in modern football yet. Sure, we have our own fairly new, fairly souless ground at Reading; but at least it is forever named after John Madejski, one of if not the most important figure in the history of our club.

Ibrahima Sonko almost became the first man to score an own goal at the new home of Coventry City. The Reading defender who is part Basile Boli part Stan Laurel had his usual up and down game and he came very close top opening the scoring after initial first half pressure from the home side by clumsily slicing a cross narrowly over his own crossbar. Which does indeed beg the question about a deflected own goal at this brand new ground - presumably it would be a Ricoh-chet, as I am sure the sponsors would want to take full opportunity of their naming rights. There was another escape for Sonko later on as the ox-like Dele Adebola spun easily away from the Senegalese who got himself into another fine mess and was relieved as the resultant shot on goal Ricoh-cheted off the upright with Hahnemann well beaten. Coventry were dominant, Reading struggled to get cohesive moves together but they did threaten through the whippet Kevin Doyle who forced a spilled save out of Bywater after a run trickier than a quadratic equation, and Gunarsson who headed Little's cross way over the crossbar when well placed.

The 2,000 or so travelling army would have been well pleased with 0-0 at half time considering Coventry were the better side in the first 45, so when we were awarded a penalty shortly before the interval we couldn't believe our luck. Duffy clearly tugged Doyle in the box, but Lita's tame penalty was easily beaten away by Bywater and as usual Reading looked the proverbial gift horse in the mouth. Any fear that would knock Reading's confidence was unfounded as we started the second half like a house on fire. With James Harper keeping a tight leash on the middle of the park and spraying the ball around sensibly, Doyle had seriously threatened once or twice already before scoring very much with the run of second half play at the second attempt after Bywater had saved his initial effort following Little's quick and clever throw-in. The atmosphere, so flat in the first half, had been cooking up for twenty minutes or so before hand following Reading's improved second half showing attacking the goal immediately in front of the away supporters, who had been trading insults with their Coventry counterparts in the nearest corner.

There were several further half chances to make the game safe as Reading continued to press. Convey was threatening to slice open the City defence but as time wore on his compatriot Hahnemann pulled off two oustanding saves within a matter of seconds at the other end to spectacularly deny firstly Morell's chip and then a bullet header from the resultant corner. The Americans were in excellent form given their midweek exertions for their country, but Hahnemann had no chance from the corner awarded after that second brilliant save as Page, who was earlier booked for a vicious tackle on Doyle, stooped to crash home a header after rising above his marker. Disappointing to concede a late goal from a corner, already the second time we have tossed away points late on this season as a result of a set piece. It could have been worse in added time as Scowcroft's shot skidded towards goal but that man Hahnemann denied Coventry, with their tails up by now, once again. A draw was the result in Coventry, the land where a kipper tie is more likely to mean a hot beverage than a natty piece of neckwear. Floyd on Football had plenty of time during a 45 minute wait without moving in a side street car park to take in the other results and calculate that we remain second place in the Championship.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Makin, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Little (Oster, 88), Gunarsson, Harper, Convey, Lita (Obinna, 89), Doyle. Subs not used: Stack, Hunt, Baradji.

Floyd's Favourite: Harper. Beginning to look like the class act he can be at long, long last.


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