Sunday, August 20, 2006

STARK RAVING BONKERS Reading 3-2 Middlesbrough

It has been scientifically proven that football is a funny old game; funnier than Tommy Cannon, Bobby Ball, Gareth Hale, Norman Pace, Sid Little and Eddie Large combined. Not so funny for poor Gareth Southgate. Forever remember as the cretin who missed the penalty in England's Euro 96 defeat to the Germans, his managerial debut was just as much of a cock up as his Middlesbrough side surrendered a 2-0 lead to rampant, rip-roaring - and any other superlatives which begin with 'R' - Reading.

Whatever happened yesterday was always going to have it's own page in history. But to comeback to win from 2 down inside twenty minutes was a magnificent achievement on a par with anything we saw during the record breaking 2005/06 season. The teams ran out into a MadStad arena filled to bursting and the showers of the morning had given away to sunshine on a rainy day, proof once again if needed that God is a Reading supporter. Reading kicked off and had the first effort on goal of the game; debutant Seol's inswinging freekick was fingertipped over the crossbar by Mark Schwarzer.

But then, for a little while, our red letter day began to go horribly wrong. Seol and Murty were dozing at the far post as DOWNING cunningly volleyed Yakubu's cross under Hahnemann and the bald yank was at fault within a further ten minutes as Rochemback's free kick spilled back off his chest allowing YAKUBU an easy chance which he duly gobbled up before sprinting away on a quite ridiculous goal celebration. 2 down and Reading looked as hesitant as Gareth Gates attempts to to ask for directions to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

But, like the afternoon weather, after the showers came the sunshine. It seemed like perhaps the most unlikely comeback since a drowned Harold Bishop re-appeared in neighbours, but Reading began to shake off their nerves and express themselves - Kitson was denied by last ditch Riggott who was later booked for a disgusting challenge on our striker and Shorey's flighted freekick was nudged around the post by Schwarzer. With half time a matter of minutes away came the amazing turnaround; the busy Seol took advantage as Arca tied himself up in knots and the loose ball was poked home by KITSON for Reading's first ever top flight goal in 135 years of football.

Reading goals and girls from Swindon - they are like buses. Barely 60 seconds after that 135 year was finally over, Ingimarsson fed SIDWELL from the left flank and his angled drive prompted scenes of unconcealed ecstasy around 90% of the stadium. The Boro fans, who earlier had taunted us with chants of are you Sunderland in disguise? and this is the Premier League were made to eat those very words which were sang right back at them by the gleeful Reading support. The only disappointment was that half time came when were so much on top, but we started the second period brightly and Leroy Lita, on as substitute for the injured Kitson, took only ten minutes to find the inevitable Reading winner. Seol caused havoc down the right flank again and his centre saw Doyle bundled to the ground by Davies and the loose ball falling after what seemed an ice age to LITA who buried the ball into the net. 3 goals in 12 minutes of football - it's a real step-up in class, this Premiership lark.

Reading were dominant now and Hahnemann didn't have a shot to save until the closing stages when he flipped away Mendieta's fizzer and then denied Viduka following dalliance by Sonko. Viduka had the ball in the back of the net with ten minutes remaing but the linesman ruled against the lardy Aussie whose belly was clearly offside even if his feet weren't. But by hook or by crook we had held on to a memorable victory and the full time whistle sparked a roar so loud that the early departing Boro fans must have assumed that their side had gone 4-2 down. People hugged in the stands, danced, sang and shook hands in the knowledge that they had seen a genuine piece of history unfold before them.

Outside the ground the madness continued; one young Reading fan took a deserved shoeing for taunting a bus queue of grumpy Boro fans with chants of 2-0 and you f*cked it up. Down at the corner shop near Harry Ramsden's at the bottom of Whitley Wood Lane, Floyd on Football unwittingly aided and abbeted a robbery as, upon opening the fridge door to take out a celebratory drink, a Reading supporter had ran in with his shirt lifted over his head, lifted 4 cans of lager swiftly from the cooler and made good with his legs to escape with the angry shouts in vain of the poor shop owner straned behind the counter ringing in his ears. People wanted to party, and with Reading currently occupying a UEFA Cup spot with a mere 37 games remaining who can blame them.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Seol (Gunnarsson, 84), Sidwell, Harper, Convey (Hunt, 84), Doyle, Kitson (Lita, HT). Subs not used: Stack, Oster.

Floyd's Favourite: Ingimarsson. Set up the equaliser and didn't look ruffled even when we were 2 down.


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