Wednesday, September 20, 2006

CARRY ON CARLING Reading 3-3 Darlington (Reading won 4-2 on penalties AET)

Reading have probably already gone some way towards proving that our 1st XI is comfortably good enough to compete in the top flight so the baton was handed over to the fringe players on Carling Cup night to show that they have the class to step up to the plate in the event of injury crisis/suspension/biscuit shortage.

Opponents Darlington from League Two should have been easy meat for aspiring Premiership footballers. Rather than chewing them up and spitting them out, however, the Reading stiffs got the opposition caught irritatingly between their teeth and were only rescued from humiliation after two hours of abject farce by the toothpick of a penalty shoot-out.

Showing 10 changes from the line-up which duffed over Manchester City and Sheffield United, the attitude from the reserves stank the place out last night. There was more than a hint of arrogance about a performance which allowed Darlington to lead 3 times on the night thanks to a slapdash defensive show throughout. The record books will show that debutants Peter Mate and Andre Bikey saved the day with a late equaliser and winning spot-kick respectively but no-one was fooled. This was Laurel & Hardy defending; Mate was shakier than a recovering alcoholic whilst Bikey clearly fancied himself as Glenn Hoddle with his numerous attempts at sweeping cross field passes yet in reality he looked more Glenys Kinnock.

It came as absolutely no surprise when Darlington took the lead midway through a dreamy first half. Referee Probert, who mystified everyone with his decisions all night like the refereeing equivalent of David Blaine, awarded a penalty for an alleged shirt tug and Simon JOHNSON's spot kick was poor, straight at Stack. The Reading 'keeper, who managed to pull of just one unconvincing save all night, meekly allowed the ball to slip through his palms. A pathetically awful backheader from Darlington's Holloway left LITA with an embarassingly simple equaliser but Reading weren't to be outdone in the Keystone Cops defending stakes - another debutant De La Cruz was also keen to show up his inadequacies, allowing the might of Julian JOACHIM to sprint clear from halfway to slip past the snoozing and stranded Stack after Steve Hunt had given the ball away.

Reading were only saved from the embarassment of a halftime defecit against the 9th best team in League Two as LITA slammed home after good work by Oster but astonishingly we were behind again shortly after half time; a corner was played short to the lonely JOACHIM who had time and space to larrup and instinctive first time effort past Stack. Ngoma put a free header wise as Bikey and Mate tried to locate their Hungarian/Cameroonian dictionary but thereafter it was more or less constant, if desperate Reading pressure. Doyle was introduced into the fray and scampering clear of the flat-footed Darlo defence with twenty minutes left he was floored by David Duke and Probert surprised everybody by getting a decison right with an instant red card? Twenty minutes to save themselevs could Reading edge out ten men Darlington? We barely scraped a 3-3 draw with a Peter MATE handball goal from a corner with a matter of minutes left.

Extra-time failed to sort the wheat from the chaff (although John Halls was withdrawn in favour of Harper after the latest installment in his own personal quest to become the worst player ever to wear Reading colours) and indeed it was the Quakers who almost shook us with a winner as Wainwright scampered clean through to advance on the ever-hesitant Stack. He smacked his shot woefully wide and such lack of composure in the resultant shoot-out saw also saw Wainwright spank his penalty well over to follow Holloway's earlier example from the visitors first kick. Hunt (at the second attempt), Little and Long spared Doyle's blushes with successful conversions before Bikey sent Stockdale the wrong way to send Reading sheepishly through to Round 3.

Reading: Stack, Halls (Harper, 102), De La Cruz, Bikey, Mate, Gunnarsson, Oster, Hunt, Lita (Doyle, 69), Long. Subs not used: Hahnemann, Osano, Hayes.

Floyd's Favourite: The Darlo fan who invaded the pitch defiantly at the end of the shoot-out to acclaim the 100-strong travelling support. Making his way unchallenged back to his seat he slipped on the perimeter track and went crashing through the advertising hoardings. This Norman Wisdom-esque moment summed up the whole evening.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home