Sunday, November 27, 2005

PIECE OF CAKE Pymouth Argyle 0-2 Reading

Forget the fact that Plymouth dominated possession and territory in the opening 20 minutes of this game, this was a simple win for Reading in the end after we rolled up our sleeves to fight off Tony Pulis's typcially combative side and killed them off with two goals of the kind of quality that the home side could only dream about. Sheffield United were defeated at Leicester and with Watford failing to win at Preston, Reading are now 4 points clear of the Blades at the top and, more importantly, 13 clear of third place.

Initial omens weren't good for Reading. No win at Home Park since 1988, the only side to defeat us in league or cup this season and with a blanket of snow across parts of the West Country in the past couple of days there was a worry that the weather could be our enemy as well. We needn't have worried; our fifth consecutive victory was forthcoming, the conditions were sunny and bright if not warm and even the trains ran like a dream. Certainly the best journey to and from a game this season; Floyd on Football particularly enjoyed the picturesque Tippex-covering of snow across the Somerset landscape on the way down and, by contrast, the raucous chanting of the delirious Reading fans for almost the entirety of the three hour journey home.

Plymouth came at us for the first twenty minutes. This was not unexpected; we have come up against Tony Pulis teams several times over the years and in terms of playing style this Plymouth side was a clone for those teams he assembled at Gillingham, Stoke et al. They pressurized us with long-ball, physical football which was bordering on rough-house tactics at times. Referee Wright was more often than not wrong, making a series of harsh decisions in favour of the home team whilst consistently failing to punish the likes of Evans and the physical Chadwick for Plymouth. Time and time again they got away with shirt pulling, pushing, grabbing and holding but Reading were in no mood to surrender to intimdation. Apart from a series of generously awarded free-kicks which were wasted by the home side, their only clear-cut opening fell to Chadwick who muscled through and was denied by the arms of Hahnemann. Reading scored on the counter-attack and the game was up.

From that smart piece of alertness by Hahnemann, the loose ball was gobbled up by the tenacious Sidwell who seems back to his snappy best in midfield. He turned the ball out wide to Little, who showed tremendous close control to work his way to the edge of the eighteen yard box. LITTLE duly scored his fifth of a tremendous season so far for the lanky winger with a gorgeous chip in off the post. The only thing Reading had to fear from now on was the increasingly eccentric performance from Mr Wright and his equally incompetent linesman nearest the massed ranks of Reading fans behind the goal. The assistant flagged for a freekick against the diminutive Convey for a supposed push, and the fussy Wright pulled up Hahnemann for supposed time-wasting, a nonsensical piece of refereeing which sent Floyd on Football into fits of rage.

Half time came and went with the general consensus that the longer the game was dragged down to Argyle's scrappy level the more likely we would be to surrender the lead, so it was with immense satisfaction that a well crafted second goal ten minutes into the second half won the day for us. Convey broke with the ball, found Lita who once again provided the supply line for a DOYLE tap-in; three in three games for the smart little Irishman who has been in brilliant form ever since signing from Cork City. From then on it was a cake-walk for Reading, save Chadwick's header onto the crossbar and a couple of half-hearted penalty appeals. Indeed, the best penalty shout appeared to come right in front of us second half; Lita was the meat in an Argyle sandwich but Mr Wright, who booked Doyle for celebrating his goal and did us no favours all afternoon, turned away the appeals. We settled for what was overall a thoroughly comfortable 2-0 victory and Floyd on Football celebrated a piece of club history in going 20 consecutive league matches without defeat, our best ever, with a cigar at Plymouth station. Truly, the cigars are out already.

Sometimes, an international break becomes an unwelcome delay for teams flying-high in both confidence and league position, but this past 7 days has shown, with three convincing league wins, that this current Reading side can't be shaken by the stop-start nature of the fixture list. In fact, there doesn't seem to be anything capable of stopping us at the moment. It would be nice to think that beating Arsenal in the Carling Cup on Tuesday might similarly be another piece of cake.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Little (Oster, 82), Sidwell, Harper, Convey (Hunt, 84), Doyle (Cox, 90), Lita. Subs not used: Stack, Makin.

Floyd's Favourite: Little. Inspirational goal.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home