Saturday, December 10, 2005

FSB Reading 5-1 Brighton

Another resounding win for Reading, but much of the focus was on a man who didn't kick a ball in anger all afternoon - the visiting manager Mark McGhee. Time, they say, is a great healer and McGhee didn't get quite the usual ferocity of abuse from the Reading faithful today as he has taken in the past but the usual taunting was enough to send the man into a grumpy outburst during the post match press conference.

Unable to compliment a side clearly far superior to his own, McGhee insisted that Reading would achieve promotion "if they get help from referees like they did today" and slated the home support for not getting behind their own side, choosing instead to have a go at him. McGhee also took a swipe at the crowd, insisting that if Brighton were flying high as Reading are and playing in a stadium as good as the Madejski then "the place would be hanging from the rafters" - as if they even manage to sell out at their 7,000 capacity temporary home at Withdean every week!

The pain on his face was plain to see. He desperately wanted to beat Reading, he desperately wants to beat us on every ocassion he faces us, but his record against Reading is abysmal. Since leaving in 1994, he has returned to Reading on 8 ocassions and only managed the 1 win against us. He cannot understand why he gets stick and he bites back on every ocassion, leaving Reading supporters with a warm glow inside after yet another victory against his side - 4 wins out of 4 against Brighton since they returned to this league under McGhee's stewardship via the play-offs a year and a half ago. McGhee is of the opinion that he should be respected for what he achieved at Reading and he has a valid point. However, he would do well to remember that for all that we owe him he owes us just as much for John Madejski taking a chance on an untried and untested veteran player back in 1991 when he could have gone for someone with far more experience. Mark McGhee would be nothing without Reading FC and if he could only have turned the other cheek over the years then the abuse and teasing would have stopped long ago.

McGhee's ranting was all the more amusing as his view on things is clearly as twisted as his bitter attitude towards RFC. The referee had a nixed game overall, but he was clearly correct in the two major decisions. Young Seagulls debutant Michael Elphick was booked in the early minutes of the game for hauling back Doyle and Floyd on Football counted at least a further three fouls before Kitson was similarly upended early in the second half. McGhee complained that as he was making his league debut, referee Taylor should have shown Elphick some leniency. Sheer nonsense - referees get criticised as it is for inconsistency and whether it it an 18 year old on his debut or a veteran 38 year old in his final season, all players should be treated the same. Elphick performed wretchedly and had to rely on foul play on several ocassions; Taylor was right to send the player off.

As for the other major incident, replays this morning have shown that Kitson was clearly upended in the box as Little swung in the freekick following Elphick's final act of the day. Managers often seem to claim that black is white in order to save their own skins but to argue that this incident didn't merit the award of a penalty kick was sheer nonsense - you can bet your bottom dollar that McGhee would have demanded a spot kick down the other end for a similar offence. KITSON drove in the resultant penalty and a defensive-minded Brighton found themselves two down early in the second half, following OATWAY's comic own goal in the first half after good work by Little. This was hardly a vintage Reading performance but the class difference was obvious and the remainder of the game against ten dogged Albion men was a walk in the park. KITSON was in the right place to bury a header past Blayney after Shorey's shot was deflected into his path and substitute Steve HUNT nutted past the beleagured Seagulls keeper at the far post after a cross from the Reading left back.

Brighton's consolation, a long range ripper by KAZIM-RICHARDS would hardly have brought a smile to McGhee's face, especially as Reading had the last word right on time when KITSON completed a hatrick with another authoritative header with Steve Hunt bundling the ball in over the line just to make sure. It was emphatic and nothing went for the Seagulls all afternoon which might explain McGhee's mood as he raced over to the officials at full time with the taunts of the East Stand ringing in his ears. Perhaps, rather than slating Reading FC supporters in his post-match comments, McGhee might do better to focus on the very obvious shortcomings of his own side. It may be some years before Brighton's new stadium will be "hanging from the rafters" as their manager puts it, as they look light-years away from having a successful team. Meanwhile, the club that McGhee left all those years ago is on the brink of achieving something that he never gave himself chance to achieve in his time at the club - promotion to the top flight. How utterly galling that must be for the man; Cheer up, Mark McGhee.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Little (Oster, 79), Sidwell, Harper (Gunnarsson, 73), Convey, Doyle (Hunt, 73), Kitson. Subs not used: Stack, Makin.

Floyd's Favourite: Little. Brighton couldn't cope.


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