Saturday, April 08, 2006

OF HEAVEN Cardiff City 2-5 Reading

You know when people say "they could have played all night and not scored"? Reading's latest win at Cardiff yesterday was the opposite of that. Both teams defended like Giraffes on roller-skates and with the striking talent on show there were always going to be goals. Reading scored 5 of those 7 goals. That's why we're champions.

A trip to the welsh capital is often a promotion graveyard for the Royals. As Dylan Thomas once said: "The Land of my Fathers? My fathers can keep it". Nearly 5 years ago now Reading led twice in the Millennium Stadium but still lost a play off final to poxy Walsall. And around this time last season a powder-puff 2-0 loss at Ninian Park put the breaks on another play-off push and we failed to win another game all season. That late collapse last time around was perhaps a blessing as it almost certainly provided much of the inspiration behind this magical campaign and that knife-to-the-heart defeat last season was most certainly avenged this time out.

With promotion and the championship secured almost laughably quickly and easily, Sir Steve Coppell decided against widespread changes against a welsh side who harboured their own play-off ambitions. A lively game only had to wait ten minutes for the first goal, which followed defending so charitable you'd have expected Terry Wogan and Gaby Roslin to have introduced it. The hard working Kitson, the mighty oak tree of Reading FC, charged down an attempted clearance down the channel from the ever hopeless Darren Purse which Convey ran onto. The yank's cross was shanked home by HARPER past the dive of Alexander in front of the massed ranks of vocal Reading supporters who enjoyed a rare day out on a good old fashioned terrace by celebrating in true crowd-surge style.

Reading defended wretchedly throughout this game, the highly rated Cameron Jerome missing a guilt edged chance as the Reading defence sliced itself open to leave the Bluebirds top scorer in the clear - the attempt on goal ended up somewhere near Swansea. The Reading supporters were enjoying their day out safe in the knowledge that for once fingernails would not require chewing in the final few weeks of a season, the chants of championes, championes were in abundance along with plenty of obscene songs which were bordering on the racist were it not for the fact that these things should be tolerated, nay encouraged, when the welsh are on the receiving end. With the ASBO army of Burberry-capped cretins to our right returning insults and gestures it was another sweet moment when we went two up with another soft goal shortly before half time; Shorey's cross, Doyle's overhead attempt and KITSON's ridiculously easy finish with time enough spare for our top scorer to have prepared and eaten Welsh Rarebit.

Always pleasant to beat such bad hosts, and the third goal less than ten minutes after the break looked to have it sewn up. Kitson chased onto Convey's through ball and Cardiff centre-half LOOVENS bulleted a header into his own net. Floyd on Football had remarked to his terrace neighbour not moments before that a comedy own goal to round things off would be a sweet way to drown what little welsh enthusiasm there was left, and Loovens duly obliged. What should have been plain sailing from here on in became decidedly choppier as the foot came off the pedal of the Reading FC title juggernaut. Shorey's sloppiness was punished by the lively Koumas pulling the ball across for a goal that even the hapless JEROME couldn't miss and soon after Parry put a header across goal and past the post from another Koumas centre. Murty rallied with a well hit freekick for Reading but as we all know there is more chance of getting the Thames to flow backwards than our captain scoring, and there was an air of inevitability than we would let Cardiff back into the game during a frankly bonkers last ten minutes.

Sonko, having one of his less cerebral games, was looking more Franz Kafka than Franz Beckenbauer and with Shorey also well off his game PARRY was allowed a shoddy free header from a near post corner to make it 2-3 and finally the welsh male voice choir cracked into life to our right. With the welshmen urging their side on to claim an unlikely draw, Purse was mugged again and Hunt provided the centre for DOYLE to make things safe. Hahnemann had to be alert to save with his feet from Ardley and there was hardly any time left at all when HARPER smashed home his second after the lively sub Hunt had his effort blocked. Our midfield maestro always gets booed on his visits to Ninian by the locals for the heinous crime of having had a loan spell at Cardiff some 5 years ago, so these two goals will have been sweet for him.

And sweet for us as well, as we depart the Coca-Cola Championship the Reading fans bid farewell to the principality with chants of no welsh, in the Premiership. 10-3 on aggregate for our two games against against Cardiff this season. Ieuan Evans, Aneurin Bevan, Neil Kinnock, Gladys from Hi-de-Hi, can you hear me? Your boys took one hell of two beatings, your boys took one hell of two beatings.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Oster (Gunnarsson, 89), Sidwell, Harper, Convey (Hunt, 75), Doyle, Kitson (Long, 69). Subs not used: Stack, Makin.

Floyd's Favourite: Harper. Tidily pinged in two goals.


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