Sunday, February 05, 2006

CLOCKWORK Crewe 3-4 Reading

There was me, that is Floyd, and my three Droogs, that is Laurie F, Colin F and Malc and we sat in the car trying to make up our rassoodocks what to do with the 3 hour car journey. The tedium of the M40, M42 and M6 was broken up, in the absence of a bit of the old Ludwig van, with a sing-along to Hits of the 90's CD whereupon your correspondant wowed his brothers with stunning renditions of The Shoop Shoop Song and Any Dream Will Do. There were also outlandish predictions for the shape of the afternoon's entertainment - 5-1 Reading was the most confident prediction in the car and one of the national newspapers had marked down a 4-0 away win. They were to be half right.

The football was expected to run like clockwork. The home side were propping up the table and were without a win since fireworks night. The last time Reading lost in the league, England were 1-0 down in the Ashes. The result was to be a cinch, a shoe-in, a formality. Indeed, the dramatic scenes when Laurie split the crotch of his jeans in the MG6 toll road services were expected to be the extent of our worries on this particular afternoon. Arriving in Crewe just after two, we headed towards a retail park sports shop for our driver to purchase a replacement pair of trousers and the unplanned detour was nothing more than a minor pain in the gulliver. That was until parking up opposite the homely Gresty Road ground - your correspondant ruefully slapped his pockets and checked every nook and cranny of the car. Alas, and amidst much anger and profanities, it was frustratingly obvious that the match ticket had gone AWOL somewhere.

Fuming at having to pay twice over to watch this no-contest of a football match, Floyd on Football was even more irritated to discover that his pay-on-the-day ticket, bringing the total outlay to watch this particular game to a stonkingly foolish 36 quid, was for the stand behind the goal. Therefore as the Droogs watched on in the stand alongside the pitch, Floyd on Football was alone behind the goal with only fellow Reading supporters for company. Ok, so it wasn't quite 14 years in HMP Prison Parkmoor, but there was a great sense of isolation which was heightened by the home side's unexpectedly good start. Crewe may go down but they will go down passing and having struck the Reading post twice in the opening ten minutes, they moved into a surprise lead when a Rodgers shot was parried by the busy Hahnemann and BELL tapped the rebound gleefully into an unguarded net.

The start of this game was frantic and as unexpectedly lively as Crewe were, Reading were equally threatening down the far end. Doyle and Lita had already troubled the upright before Harper smashed a howitzer towards goal which Turnbull saved instinctively with an outstretched arm. Reading were troubled, the weight of expectation seemed to bog us down but we were level and subsequently moved ahead in the space of two minutes midway through the half. Convey was tugged back on the edge of the area, and SHOREY without a goal all season until Tuesday evening, doubled his season's tally from the dead ball, sending a low effort inside Turnbull's near post despite the Crewe custodian's ebest efforts to keep it out. SIDWELL then put Reading ahead with an authoratitive header from a Little cross and when LITA took Shorey's pass in his stride and thumped home for 3-1 right on half time it seemed as if the day was going to take a familiar turn.

The Railwaymen got back on track soon after the break though when TAYLOR prodded home the loose ball after a fine Hahnemann save and this was typical of the home side's resilience in the face of adversity all afternoon. The bottom side gave us as much to think about as any side we have played this season, but they are not seemingly doomed to League One football without good reason. A matter of minutes after getting themselves a foothold in this eccentric encounter, they undid their good work by allowing LITA to sidefoot home Convey's cross for 4-2. The cold and loneliness was momentarily forgotten by this point as Floyd on Football almost had a fifth goal to celebrate with no-one in particular - the disappointing Doyle clean through put his shot narrowly wide in unfamiliar style for the young Irishman. And we were to pay for such profligacy as LUNT reduced the arrears with well over twenty minutes to go from the spot after Shorey had blocked a cross illegally using his arm.

This was real horrorshow. Crewe were now bright eyed and bushy tailed with great hopes of causing an upset and boosting their own forlorn hopes of avoiding the drop. Reading played with leaden-footed nerves and struggled to keep possession, at the back Sonko had to save his defensive partner the shaky looking Icelandar Ingimarsson on more than one ocassion with familiar full-blooded clearances and bone-shuddering tackles. It was a truly nervy last twenty, alleviated slightly when Lunt was dismissed for felling goal-bound substitute Hunt but even so Crewe almost delivered a cutting blow into injury time as a corner took seemingly eons to clear. When the ball was hacked clear in desperation, Reading had another win to celebrate but this success was a barely metited one. Floyd on Football quite honestly felt far too sheepish in the circumstances to join in with the post match chants of that's why we're top the league. It was time for a deep sigh of relief and a well needed return journey stop off for liquid refreshment at the Korova Milk Bar.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Little (Gunnarsson, 90), Sidwell, Harper, Convey (Hunt, 79), Doyle, Lita (Kitson, 81). Subs not used: Stack, Oster.

Floyd's Favourite: Sidwell. A clockwork orange.


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