Sunday, January 08, 2006

REF RAGE West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Reading

Referee Matt is not the Messias, he's a very naughty boy. Reading were so very nearly denied the FA Cup replay they so richly deserved by an absolute holocaust of a penalty decision at the Hawthorns yesterday. For a big man, Geoff Horsfield goes down very easily in the box and whilst Floyd on Football would of course never accuse the Baggies front man of being a cheating bastard, the referee was very clearly hood-winked into giving a decision so soft that it was the Mr Whippy of penalties.

Luckily, Reading - even a Reading with 6 changes to the usual league starting line-up - are made of strong stuff these days and hit back moments laster with a penalty of our own that even Mr Messias, West Brom's most influential man on the day, couldn't refuse. We earned a richly deserved draw to bring our Premiership opposition back to the Madejski in 10 days time having dominated the game for long periods despite being far from our most fluent selves on the day. The replay will most likely be a different kettle of fish as West Brom surely cannot be as appaling as they were yesterday, but Reading will have to fancy their chances.

The bleak West Midlands was like a snow bubble at kick off time yesterday, as the white stuff flurried around creating a beautifully wintry scene for the 3rd round day of the greatest cup competition in the world. Perhaps it would be fair to say though that this competiton has lost some of its magic in these financially directed times; as well as Reading's 6 changes, the Baggies made 4 themselves as both sides have priorities at either end of the table and are seperated by a mere 4 league places. The match itself was totally lacking in sparkle as well; it was a drab affair throughout and what quality there was on show came from Reading. Typical of the dearth in quality was an extraordinary early miss from the Baggies Nathan Ellington who proved that Wigan's loss in not necessarily West Brom's gain by firstly deflecting a Gunnarsson clearance against the Reading post with his backside and with Stack beaten tripping over himself with the goal gaping. It was almost embarassing.

West Brom have defeated Arsenal and Tottenham at the Hawthorns already this season and they have a good home record in the Premiership. On this showing you'd have to wonder why; the emphasis in a home FA Cup tie against opposition from a division below would always be on the Premiership side you'd have thought, but Reading dominated possession and territory and were only let down by a poor final ball from 2nd choice wingers Oster and Hunt. Up front, young Shane Long toiled and ran his heart out on his full debut but was pushed and pulled all over the pitch by the experienced Darren Moore and the hopeless Messias failed to notice. For Reading, Kitson went close when put through at an angle by Hunt only to be denied by the leg of Chris Kirkland and Harper had an effort from distance well held by the 'keeper. A good move down the right flank put Makin in with a chance to cross but he went down under pressure from Carter. Messias booked the Reading right back and quite why the referee would have thought that our man would have dived in such a promising position is quite beyond comprehension. West Brom only threatened through Kanu, who poked a ball through for Davies to sidefoot from close range straight at the well-positioned Stack who pulled off his only save of the day.

The game failed to improve in the second half, during which Albion hit several desperate long range efforts over the bar and failed to truly worry the Icelandic centre-half pairing of Ingimarsson and Gunnarsson. Indeed, the best entertainment of the day was provided at half time by the Reading substitutes. As Hahnemann stood between the sticks, he invited his team mates Sonko, Little, Doyle and Lita to try and chip the crossbar from distance. With most of the 2,800 Reading supporters remaining in the stand to avoid the crowded concourse during the break, they were urged on and managed the feat of clipping the woodwork to great applause. Hahnemann himself then took a go and miskicked badly thumping the ball low into the net to be then serenaded with the chant of #that's why you're in the goal!# from the travelling fans. Unfortunatey, the second half didn't see anything as close as an effort against the crossbar, but Sidwell and Hunt tried to test Kirkland and Reading got in plenty of good positions to put a ball across the box but we lacked quality at the crucial time.

With just under ten minutes left, Albion got their unjust gift of a late christmas present of a penalty as Horsfield went to ground under Makin's 'challenege' and the gullible Mr Messias could hardly blow his whistle quick enough. Stack guessed the right way but a rare display of Albion precision and quality from GERA buried the ball low past our 'keeper. With the travelling army stunned by the injustice of it all, the jeers turned to cheers barely two minutes later. Reading's pressing was rewarded as Ingimarsson's header across the box was diverted out of the danger zone by the hand of Albrechtsen and the offence was so embarassingly blatant that even Messias, the Inspector Clouseau of refereeing, couldn't ignore it. DOYLE had been rested from the starting XI and proved a point by dispatching the penalty decisively past Kirkland. Reading looked the mor likely to win the game, but we have a great chance of finishing the job at the Madejski - if only Messias wasn't scheduled to take control of the replay as well.

Reading: Stack, Makin, Shorey, Ingimarsson, Gunnarsson, Oster, Sidwell, Harper, Hunt (Little, 85), Kitson (Doyle, 68), Long (Lita, 57). Subs not used: Hahnemann, Sonko.

Floyd's Favourite: Harper. Reading won the midfield battle and Harper was the inspirational General.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home