Thursday, August 24, 2006

JAM AND BLAST Aston Villa 2-1 Reading

You can understand why people refer to residents of the second city as whingeing Brummies. If you had to live in that grey, drab hole of a town with its gridlocked motorways you would be miserable as well.

Misery was indeed the order of the day yesterday. Cramped in the back of the car forever delayed by the lousy M42 and the M6, Floyd on Football missed the first 40 minutes of this exceptionally inconvenient midweek outing. The infamous fixture computer and the closure of Junction 6 on the M6 conspired to make this particular outing about as enjoyable as a Hezbollah-organised bus trip to Haifa.

News had reached the car whilst sat in a stationary queue of cars of Reading taking a 4th minute lead - Floyd on Football's network of experts described good work on the right from Seol and a perfect cross to provide DOYLE with a simple headed chance - and as we finally parked up and joined the meandering ranks of latecomers delayed by the wretched gridlocked traffic in this godforsaken city a roar could be heard in the distance, followed 60 seconds later by a second roar. Sonko had (according to an exclusive post-match interview granted to Floyd on Football by Steve Coppell conducted in Warwick Services filling station) accidentally tripped himself up and brought down Luke Moore in the area. Referee Mason decreed that this was deliberate and Sonks became the first Reading player to be dismissed in a league match since April 2004. When a player slips and brings down an opponent to concede a penalty, surely this cannot be deliberate denial of a goalscoring opportunity? Reading, who can expect no favours in this old boys network of a league, had to re-organise and Lita was withdrawn in favour of Gunnarsson who was slotted into the centre of defence. ANGEL scored the penalty.

Down to ten men and using a 4-4-1 formation, Reading remarkably took the game to Villa in the opening stages of the second half. Shorey's freekick was tipped away unconvincingly by Sorensen and Seol struck a firm effort from distance as we totally dominated possession. It was the Korean who failed to close down his man - unforgiveable when already numerically disadvantaged - which gave Villa the opening for their wholly unmerited lead; BARRY getting in ahead of Ingimarsson at the near post and looping a header past Hahnemann from Whittingham's decent centre. The remainder of the game saw a poor Villa side flagged offside so often you'd have thought that the linesman was using semaphore whilst Reading worked possession intelligently with ten men but in all honesty failing to create any real openings with the final ball. The Korean's head went down after Villa's winner and he spent the rest of the game Seol-king, something we could ill afford and which had better not be a sign of things to come from our record signing.

Inside a Villa Park providing less atmosphere than the Moon, Reading tried to shake things up by introducing the physicality of Long and the enthusiasm and energy of Hunt and we won a succession of late thrown-ins and corners with Villa pinned back. A man disadvantage against an established, albeit thorooughly mediocre, Premiership outfit - Reading were not overawed. Yet even so, we battled back to the car through teeming rain on the end of our first defeat since February and a bedraggled and wetter-than-an-otter's- pocket Floyd on Football complained bitterly at being confronted by a huge line of damp and hungry Reading supporters thanks to the sheer incompetence of Warwick Services who had provided just one overworked member of staff at the counter of the solitary fast food counter which remained open. It would honestly have been quicker and easier queuing for bread in Moscow at the fall of the Soviet Union than getting served by these buffoons.

And so, it was with sheer delight that we waved goodbye to the midlands (baring an unfortunate cup draw) for the season - for not only are the motorways and service stations in this part of the world totally and utterly useless, their football teams are also utter gash, with Villa their sole Premiership representatives these days. In fact, if we never visit blasted Birmingham again it would suit Floyd on Football down to the ground.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Seol, Sidwell, Harper, Convey (Hunt, 65), Doyle (Long, 81), Lita (Gunnarsson, 37). Subs not used: Stack, Oster.

Floyd's (fifty minute) Favourite: Hunt. Provided a much-needed energy rush. Honourable mention also the Geordie fella in the cramped, crappy toilets at half time who went off on a vocal rant about "Premiership pooftas who can't afford a bottle of Toilet Duck from the pound shop".


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