League Two Form Guide
Question of the Week
How much would you accept for Omar Bogle?
06/10 Reading 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO changes were made by either team at half time. Now, let me see, what events shook the world between 4 oâ€™clock and ten to five? The crowd stopped the minor moaning and tried to motivate the Town players.
Grimsby Town 0 Reading 3
06 Oct 2002, Nationwide League Division 1
The Pontoon started to sing, taking throw-ins as cues. Yes, it was that desperate, we needed the artificial stimulation of a throw in to get excited. Reading sat back, packed the defence and occasionally broke away, but were invariably offside.
You know, we wonâ€™t ever get those minutes back, sat there, watching the shambolic fumblings from the striped ones. No particular method was on display, with the Town players seemingly content to lump it long and let the two strikers do it on their own. The main feature of the second half was Matthew Upsonâ€™s bandaged head, which nodded everything away, and sometimes kicked it away too. No mean feat for a head. Oh, hang on, blink and you missed it - Barnard had a shot from 652 yards, which lolloped prettily into the â€˜keeperâ€™s arms. Another 10 minutes of wackaday football, with Upson heading and Forster offside, was only punctuated by the occasional Mansaram mazy meander through several backstreets. This resulted in some more tremendously exciting throw ins, a couple of free kicks and a selection of iced cakes from Ramsdens. The football is so poor that the next "chance" I have to describe was a Raven header from a free kick on the right which skipped gaily off his nobbly forehead and looped gently a few feet past the â€˜keeperâ€™s left hand post. In the context of this game it was a major Town effort. In the context of a Sunday league division 8 game, it wasnâ€™t.
Still the Pontoon tried to rouse the rabble on the pitch, which to an extent worked, as the match was being played in the Reading half, even if the ball rarely arrived in their penalty area. Mansaram managed to get the crowd to its feet when, with his back to goal, 20 yards out to the right of centre, he shimmied, shivered, spun and shot in one movement. His low fizzer skidded a couple of feet wide of the â€˜keeperâ€™s left hand post. We stood up, we applauded, we "ooed", but we knew it was never going in. For us is was just something to do to break up the monotony. The Reading fans kept offering to sing a song for us, but they obviously failed to hear our requests, for they started invoking the spirit of Nancy Astor again. Or was it Jeffrey Archer this time?
Here is an important announcement - Reading had a shot. A gentle looper from Watson, 25 yards out in the centre following a half cleared corner. Coyne saved so easily the players had already run back up the pitch. And hereâ€™s another bit of Coyne action - he had to catch a cross. Have you twigged yet that this match was appalling? After about an hour there was the infamous penalty incident that changed history. Alternatively known as that rubbish dive by Pouton. Someone in a striped shirt knocked the ball over the top of the Reading defence, Pouton ran after it and two defenders converged before his very eyes playmates. Pouton, a couple of yards behind them, took the opportunity to fall into their ankles. The referee immediately pointed to the spot...from which Reading would take their free kick. Incredibly he didnâ€™t book Pouton for diving, or even poor diving.
With about 25 minutes left Santos replaced the now hobbling Cooke (who received a heavy tackle just as he noticed his number being prepared on the flashing board). Santos had been cooed at for minutes by the crowd, who were desperate for change. Santos ran on and took his place in the centre of a front three, all of which meant that Town played a subtle passing game, whereby they lashed the ball high and long towards Santosâ€™ big bald bonce. It was not pretty, it was not effective. Just once, about five minutes or so after coming on, did Santos manage to flick on a high ball beyond the Reading defence for Mansaram to schmooze through a challenge. Mansaram, in the centre, rolled around his marker and was for a fleeting moment free and one-on-one with the â€˜keeper. But the ball zipped off the turf and Mansaramâ€™s boot arrived at the ball at the same time as Ashdownâ€™s fist and Williamsâ€™ shin. They all sneezed, fell down, and the ball was cleared from the six yards box.
Reading created a couple of momentary panics in the Town defence when they had rare excursions towards Cleethorpes. Watson, lurking unmarked on the edge of the area at a corner, headed down firmly into the centre of the goal. Raven swished his right boot, slicing the ball through the area, with Coyne emerging from the darkness, clutching his apple. A little later a deep cross from their left made its way to Coyne via Fordâ€™s right leg, the exact bit of which is still shrouded in mystery, but Arthur C Clarke is on the case. With about 15 minutes left Robinson replaced Mansaram and buzzed around a lot, as he does, but to no great effect. Town were increasingly just a bunch of blokes wearing the same colour clothing. There was very little co-ordinated team play, with several trying to dribble through Reading on their own. Town put in loads of crosses, every single one of which was cleared by a Reading head at the near post. Somewhere in the last 10 minutes Coldicott passed straight to Forster, in the centre of the Town half, as our destroyer was heading towards home. Forster was thus free, behind the Town defence, down the centre. Having spent most of the second half slumbering he was still a bit sleepy, so we can forgive him the wild slicing whack from the edge of the area which sailed majestically past Coyne, past the post and into the Osmond Stand.
And still Town rolled forward, like a malfunctioning traction engine. Santos was already totally drained, with hands on knees, panting furiously; so much for thoughts of a full game there then. There was the now obligatory comedy moment when Santos received a pass just inside the Reading half, he turned and started to drive on down the centre. Kabba sprinted down the right, up behind Santos, dispossessed Townâ€™s third international on the pitch and went on a crazy golf weekend, which ended with a short pass to their right back. Pouton woke up and realised that the Sponsorâ€™s Man of the Match award was slipping away, so in the 88th minute, he did a step over, followed by a double step over and back flick in front of the Smiths/Stones/Findus. All a complete waste of time, but he clearly wanted that bottle of champagne. In injury time Raven scored with an acrobatic scissors kick from 15 yards, following a hectic scramble inside the Reading penalty area. The linesmanâ€™s flag was up for something, probably offside, but who cares? Why waste one of the ten goals Townâ€™ll score this season. In added time Santos should have been sent off for a terrible, awful, disgraceful two footed jump lunge at the back of a Reading playerâ€™s ankles.
The game ended in farcical fashion, which served as a perfect metaphor for the season so far. The ball was about 40 yards from Coyne, just to the right of centre. A Reading player ran back towards the half way line as the ball bounced behind him. Pouton took the opportunity to do a manly full thwack challenge, sliding in with one of his tackles that are really shots. Unfortunately it was a damn fine shot, as POUTON won the tackle, sending the ball high and mightily over Coyne and into the top left hand corner of the goal. Pouton squared up to the Reading player and there was, as Peter Osgood once said, "a minor fricassee in the centre of pitch". One of the Town players tried to take a free kick, but the referee pointed to the centre spot. Five seconds later the game ended.
There wasnâ€™t much booing, the crowd stood up, looked at the pitch, shook a collective head and trudged off wearily. Thereâ€™s no point in getting angry, the evidence has been there for all to see all season. Letâ€™s be realistic and prepare ourselves for Division Two. Poor old Raven did his best but couldnâ€™t run fast enough, Ford doesnâ€™t appear to like the rough and tumble of lower division football, Barnard seems to be on a mission to save himself for his country, Pouton should be dropped (but who in the management has the courage to do that?), Coldicott was as effective as Pouton today, Kabba and Mansaram are two characters in search of an author, Cooke had a couple of promising movements in the first half then receded into Campbellian anonymity. Oddly Campbell was perkier today than normal.
When we are looking for nadirs this was the nadir of nadirs, similar to Rotherham (home) and Walsall (away) last season. And it probably will get worse than this, that is the worrying bit.
Nickoâ€™s man of the Match
No-one. Although it was suggested this was young master Rowanâ€™s finest game for many a month.
Howard Webb. Officious, timid, kept getting in the way. Should have sent Santos off, shouldnâ€™t have booked McDermott. Silly, no big decisions to make (the "Pouton penalty" was so pathetic it was embarrassing). He gets 4.6, for wearing a nice yellow shirt.
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