Monday, January 02, 2006

SHEEPISH Reading 5-1 Cardiff City

You could say that Wales is England's attic. It's the part of British Isles used to store things we want to hide and that includes the charmless supporters of Cardiff City FC. Whether it was a case of should auld acquaintance be forgotten is debatable, but the Bluebirds followers were more subdued than usual, almost humble this afternoon as they looked forward to their cup appointment at Highbury next Saturday on the back of this crushing defeat with an ironic chorus of #are you watching Ar-sen-al?#.

Floyd on Football is of the opinion that this latest outing provided the best Reading performance so far in a quite outstanding season. 5-1 flattered Cardiff as for all but ten minutes after their goal they were comprehensively outpassed, outhought and outplayed by the rampant Royals. The third ocassion on which we have scored 5 at home this season goes some way towards explaining our goal difference of +44. Free flowing, pacy counter attack, solidity in the centre of the park and a back five operating as a well oiled unit - that is the secret to going 27 league games unbeaten in such a competitive division.

For all the euphoria, Reading could have been a goal down before they opened the scoring. Hahnemann had to be alert to charge off his line to deny Lee after Murty tied himself in knots down the right flank. The giant yank saved with his tree-trunk legs and Reading branched out on the counter-break, the 'keepers through finding his compatriot Convey who drove forward and pushed the ball out for Little to swing in a centre which SIDWELL got his ginger nut to, leaving Alexander with absolutely no chance. It had been an even start to the game thus far and the first goal was very much a turning point as Reading went on to dominate the rest of the first half with some excellent football; passing the ball with quality, using the space well and exposing the welsh visitors down the flanks. It was intoxicating stuff at times and you got the feeling that Cardiff would be inevitable lambs to the slaughter, particularly as SONKO added a second goal just after the half hour powering home a header from Shorey's freekick that Alexander could only parry high into the roof of the net.

That Reading failed to add to that tally before half time only a flag happy linesman and the Cardiff goalkeeper could explain. Time and time again Reading sliced the visiting defence open only to be hauled back by a series of dubious looking offside calls which failed to impress the Reading crowd and added to the heat of the atmosphere. When the linesman wasn't seemingly practising his semaphore, Alexander was on hand to first foil Doyle and then unbelievably saving from Kitson at point blank range. Kitson was having a splendid game, coming deep to retrieve the ball, spreading the play and providing an inspirational figurehead in attack. The rangy centre-forward added the third shortly after the break, pouncing at the second attempt from close range after yet more brilliance on the right wing from twinkletoes Little, beating his man and offering an 'eat me' centre for KITSON's 14th goal of the season.

Cardiff rallied briefly and had a goal to take home with them; the lively Cameron JEROME made inroads towards goal and struck from 20 yards via Hahnemann's legs for a soft-looking goal which smacked of a slight air of complacency. To complain too much would be churlish given Reading's continued progress, although Cardiff gave us something to think about for the 10 minutes which seperated their solitary strike and our fourth - Cameron again threatened as the Reading defence seemed to hesitate and Murty ushered the ball to safety after a nervous moment. Floyd on Football breathed a sigh of relief with twenty minutes left as SIDWELL's plunging header from yet another right wing cross, this time a typically measured Shorey freekick, made the game safe and the final stages were played out with Reading attacking at will and playing like a side who could have happily played on for another hour despite this being their 4th game in 8 festive days.

It was five from the spot as handball was given against Cardiff's Purse, KITSON burying the ball past Alexander and there could and perhaps should have been more as the same Cardiff centre-half directed a spectacular header narrowly wide of his own goal and Sidwell was only denied a hatrick by the goalpost after good work by substitute Long. That would have poured the metaphorical mint sauce over the charred carcass of Cardiff City but Reading settled for just the five this time.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Little (Oster, 75), Sidwell, Harper, Convey (Hunt, 71), Doyle, Kitson (Long, 75). Subs not used: Stack, Gunnarsson.

Floyd's Favourite: Kitson. Great movement pulled Cardiff all over the park.


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