Sunday, November 26, 2006

CONSTANT CRAVEN Fulham 0-1 Reading

For the third weekend in a row Reading faced London opposition and delivered a dose of Capital punishment. Getting a result at the home of middle-of-the-road rich-kids of SW6 is just the kind of business we need to be doing if we want to stay entrenched in our mid-table comfort zone, but with yesterday's result leaving us a mere point away from a Champions League place it is hard not to dream.

Once again, Reading had a large and vocal travelling support behind them as all tickets for the Putney End had sold out so a good many Berkshire folk packed out the neutral stand as well. There hasn't been much to cheer about on our travels in recent weeks so the Blue Army certainly enjoyed themselves yesterday, giving the team good backing and totally outshouting the mute home support to make it feel like a home match. And we had plenty to shout about in the early stages as we consistently got in behind the Fulham back four to pull dangerous balls back across their goal mouth, alas the finishing touch was missing throughout much of this game.

The winner came before the twenty minute mark and was a result of good work from Seol and Little with Harper providing an incisive pass to put Doyle in on Niemi at an angle. Ian Pearce had other ideas and instinctively brought down Doyle as he was about to shoot, with the net result an obvious red card and a penalty. DOYLE stepped up and sent Niemi the wrong way and we had ober an hour to try and make our lead more comfortable against a depleted side. It is to Fulham's credit as a decent footballing side and also down to our own wastefulness that we never truly had this game won until referee Gallagher's last whistle.

Gallagher himself, as if to make up for the fact that he had to give a mandatory red card to a Fulham man, tried to even things up. A month until Christmas and you'd expect Mr Gallagher to have sent his cards out already, he certainly delivered several yellow ones to Reading players yesterday. The decisions against Harper in the first half and Sonko in the second were particularly ridiculous; Sonks had his name taken for little more than a shove in the back to a Fulham man up on the halfway line. It's a man's game isn't it? We also had to suffer injuries to Sidwell and Little which hampered our progress at the footballing home of Harrods, but the replacements Gunnarsson and Oster played their part in a good, solid Reading performance with their only grumble being that we never killed the game off.

Time and time again we got to the byline and pulled the ball back where - usually - precisely no-one was waiting to pull the trigger and if you don't make the most out of such good opportunities at the top table you usually get punished. Certainly then ten men were a well-oiled outfit who tested us on ocassion with Hahnemann having to plunge low to keep out a header from his fellow american Brian McBride in the first half and Ingimarsson had to kick the danger clear early in the second after Collins John - who sounds like a Dynasty actress but is in fact a half decent footballer - had poked an effort past Hahnemann during an alarming scramble. Reading however were more than threatening down the other end in an end-to-end game mystifying devoid of finishing finesse, Seol in particular was leading Fulham a merry dance and he made the home side feel more stretched than Farepak. Doyle advanced in on Niemi and was denied at the near post whilst the ball seemed to fizz across the Fulham goal far too often without a telling finish for Floyd on Football's liking.

McBride hit an absolute howitzer late on which looked to have the trajectory but ultimately beat the upright as well as Hahnemann and we were safe, another three points takes us more than halfway towards survival now you'd expect and the Reading supporters jubilantly danced their way out of the Putney End and down the Stevenage Road into Bishops Park singing songs of praise.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Little (Oster, 37), Sidwell (Gunnarsson, 33), Harper, Hunt, Seol (Lita, 90), Doyle. Subs not used: Federici, Bikey.

Floyd's Favourite: Seol. Will tear you apart. Again.


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