Monday, April 17, 2006

WAVE GOODBYE Reading 3-1 Stoke City

Reading and Stoke City have tended to follow each other about. Royals succeeded Stoke City as Division 2 champions in 1994, the clubs were relegated together in 1998 and subsequently promoted together in 2002. 12 seasons in succession we have played the Potters and it is with great regret that we won't be able to take our usual 3 home points against them next season. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Following a bruising draw at Elland Road which moved us onto 99 points, Coppell reshuffled his pack and came up with another winning hand. 6 changes to the usual line-up but we still made light work of a typically poor Stoke side. It was another sell-out at the Madejski as this triumphant season moves towards its close; the only empty seats were to be found amongst the chavs and pikeys in the ASBO-infested away end. Stoke brought barely 400 of their charmless followers who embarassed themselves with a half-hearted conga as the game reached its conclusion.

The football match was another mediocre one with precious little at stake. The power-house Sidwell, playing further forward in a 4-3-3 formation, had a long range volley deflected wide early on as Reading saw plenty of the ball and even with the copious amount of changes we looked a far superior side to Stoke. Hunt's clever backheel to release Doyle was only foiled by the offside flag of the useless East Stand side linesman and the ever willing Shane Long was putting himself about a bit. The opener came with twenty minutes remaining in the first half; a foul on Hunt was punished effectively, Ivar Ingimarsson swung in a smashing left flank delivery which SIDWELL was allowed to head home unchallenged from 8 yards out. Reading almost gifted Stoke a leveller before half time, for the visitors didn't look likely to do much themselves, as Ingimarsson almost put a Duberry header into his own net but that was as close as our toothless visitors came in the first half.

Stoke came out with more purpose in the second half, however. Half time sub Adam Rooney played in Darrell Russell who was foiled by the alert Stack, but it was Reading who scored next. DOYLE chased a long ball into the box and was clearly shoved off the ball; picking himself up and dusting himself he buried the penalty past Simmonsen. This goal lifted the home crowd into the usual celebratory chants and songs we have enjoyed so much recently, but it was the pathetically small contingent of visiting supporters who were next to celebrate. Ivar Ingimarsson did his utmost to give them a goal by deflecting a Gallagher cross onto his own post, substitute ROONEY rifling home the loose ball; the Reading supporters, ever willing to take the piss, sarcastically celebrated the visitor's goal to the familiar tune of Tom Hark.

Amusingly, after the Stoke supporters had earlier booed their former player for having the temerity to move on to a bigger and better club, John HALLS made the most of a rare start by putting his one time employers to the sword a matter of moments after the consolation, crashing home Hunt's cross at the far post. And that was more or less that really; Coppell made the most of another comfortable winning lead by giving RFC's debuts to Michael Dobson and Scott Golbourne and the last half an hour was played out amidst a chorus of oles, demands for a wave from the managerial staff and Stoke City baiting. Sonko attempted a 40 yard shot on goal which was last seen heading towards Caversham which fairly summed up the day - anything is worth a go when you are playing opposition as poor as Stoke.

And so that was that and the last time we shall see the charming supporters of Stoke City for a little while. Show me the way to Aston Villa, Man United and Middlesbrough. Wave goodbye to Coca-Cola. The Premier league awaits for me.

Reading: Stack, Makin, Shorey (Golbourne, 65), Ingimarsson, Sonko, Halls, Gunnarsson, Sidwell (Dobson, 53), Hunt, Doyle (Cox, 71), Long. Subs not used: Hahnemann, Kitson.

Floyd on Football: Gunnarsson. Boris Becker was boss.


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