Sunday, December 10, 2006

CALLING THE TOON Newcastle United 3-2 Reading

As the Floyd on Football 2006 winter tour comes to an end, our media department finally have chance to update the midweek action from our visit to Geordieland. A week which included promotional visits to such glamorous outposts as the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Shinfield, Stansted, St John's Wood, Lambeth, Southwark and Watford also found time for a flying visit to Newcastle to take in the first ever league encounter between the host city and the rip-roaring Royals who were aiming to go third in the league with a point.

This visit was a hugely successful one for Floyd on Football PLC (Pissed-up liability chump) and we would like to thank the Dene Hotel, Jesmond and Northumbria Police for making sure the evening went without a hitch. Unfortunately, due to the large amount of complimentary alcohol quaffed backstage before the gig, memories of the evening's entertainment remain somewhat hazy but an attempt at some sort of post-match de-brief follows.

St James's Park - a stunning local landmark reverred around these parts, arguably more so than even the Tyne Bridge, the Angel of the North and Buffalo Joe's. For the casual once a season foreign visitor however one must have a Brian Blessed-esque love of mountaineering and a tank full of oxygen for taking your seat inside this stadium is akin to climbing the north face of the Eiger. Once you have mounted 14 flights of stairs the view from above is quite tremendous, like looking down upon a subbuteo pitch. And so a a full travelling allocation of loyal Reading fans, many of whom must have pulled a sickie for this Wednesday night visit to the far north - for which we thank the Spectrum 48k fixture computer from the bottom of our hearts - sung their hearts out as the teams kicked off a right ding-dong of a battle.

Newcastle had the best of the opening exchanges and should have took the lead when Sibierski put a free header straight into Hahnemann's grateful midriff. The lead did come halfway through the first 45 when SIBIERSKI did far better to glance Solano's arcing touchline cross home and we began to feel a long way from home shortly afterwards as Obefemi Martins nutted another right flank centre against the woodwork. Reading are no southern softies though and made it a case of Newcastle Brown Pants in the ten minutes before halftime. Oster's good work allowed HARPER to let fly from the edge of the box and a deflection beat Given; the Irish 'keeper then made a quite improbable save from Seol's header before HARPER, having found his range, buried another effort from the back of the 18 yard box having been fed by substiute Little.

Reading led 2-1 at the break and the famous St James's fanatical support - so fanatical of course that this match was watched by a crowd of around 4,000 below capacity - were rather subdued and increasingly rather grumpy. This mood of gloom continued for the opening fifteen minutes or so of a second half entirely dominated by Reading but given that this is the commencement of pantomime season then cue the imput of the arch pantomime widow, the ever incompetent Rob Styles. Mr Styles judged that Sonko's coming together with Martins was worthy of a penalty kick - a second against us in two games 'refereed' by the Waterlooville wanker this season - which he would never have awarded down the other end in a million years. MARTINS sent the spit-kick wide of Hahnemann who had guessed the right way.

So from looking to stretch our lead to being pegged back to 2-2 , the mood of the game had entirely changed on the whim of one man. Styles, in typically horse-stable-door-bolted style attempted to even things up with a curious decision to overrule what looked a good goal by Sibierksi but Reading were now up against it, especially as our counter-attacking progress was more often than not thwarted by cynical fouls from the home team which went unpunished by the cowardly Styles. As Reading players ended up limping towards the end of a tiring match against a side who had not played a fixture the previous weekend - another triumph for Spectrum 48k - it was no great surprise when the home side stole a winner; EMRE running clear to crash a drive over Hahnemann after Harper had inexplicably blotted his thus far spotless copybook by giving the ball away cheaply.

So the Reading supporters filed out disappointed but by no means disconsolate and the home side, assembled for many millions more than our modest means, climbed out of the relegation zone as we made our way into the Newcastle night to make hay and to make our voices heard. Rob Styles, meanwhile, will be hearing from Floyd on Football's legal team.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty (Bikey, 88), Shorey, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Oster, Sidwell, Harper, Hunt (Little, 34), Seol, Doyle (Lita, 80). Subs not used: Federici, Gunnarsson.

Floyd's Favourite: Harper. Will be rightly distraught at the loose pass which lef to the winner but finished neatly twice to put us ahead in an exciting game.


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