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26/04 Reading 2nd Half
By: Tony Butcher
NO changes were made by either team at half time and Town showed a little more verve and purpose. Hockless was noticeably closer to Sagare, which meant that Town lost possession closer to the Reading goal than in the first half.
Reading 2 Grimsby Town 1
26 Apr 2003, Nationwide League Division 1
Keane really riled the home support with some clattering challenges which brought a booking and a ticking off (he should really have received another yellow card for reckless batterings of opponents ankles). His booking was for a tackle which was simple revenge for being nut-megged. He isnâ€™t very subtle.
A few minutes into the half Reading attacked down their centre right, with the ball being flicked this way and that, confusing the bedazzled Town defence. Young diverted the ball away from a striker, but only across goal and straight to Chadwick, near the edge of the penalty area. He strode forward and carefully curled a shot towards the bottom left hand corner. Coyne sailed on the Sloop John B, superbly tapping the ball aside for a corner. A nice remembrance of saves past for us. But Townâ€™s defence was still so broke up, several wanted to go home. After 55 minutes there was a Town attack worth thinking about. Sagare and Hockless bothered a defender into giving the ball away. Hockless tapped the ball down the right flank for Sagare, who twisted past his marker and flighted a superb cross to the far post. The ball floated over the last defender to Keane, just seven yards out, who thought about heading the ball, then volleying. After much deliberation, cogitation and just plain prevarication, Keane tried to control the ball. Big mistake, self styled "Keano". Running around is your forte, and our leprechaun-like loanee was easily dispossessed. A corner followed. And then, almost immediately Sagare and Hockless were replaced by Thompson and Mansararamamamamam. Town reverted to a 4-4-2 formation with Keane and Bolder in central midfield.
Now, I donâ€™t want you to get the impression that things turned out nicely in the end, with Town fluid, vibrant, attacking, and in any way a danger to Reading, but Town did have a number of efforts towards goal. Campbell smacked a shot from 20 yards which Hahnemann, who could go on "Stars in Your Eyes" as Stacy Coldicott, caught very easily.
But does he sing as well as the midfielder with a prosthetic forehead on his real head? Keane headed a deep Galli cross softly wide from about eight yards out. Campbell dinked a pass over the Reading defence for Thompson, who was half pulled back by Brown as he raced into the left side of the penalty area. The sulky scouser stopped and appealed for a penalty before drifting wide and dragging a weakish shot across the face of goal. See, reading all that youâ€™d think that Town were much better at 4-4-2, and were making a decent fist of the game. It was all academic, and never looked likely to cause Reading any problems. Bolder lobbed a lazy shot over the bar from outside the area after some interesting passing and movement down the Town left. It was the sort of shot which golfers would be proud of, high, back spin, the ball right next to the hole.
If Reading had stopped trying to score the perfect goal, they might have actually had some shots. The Town defence improved in the second half, until Young hobbled off after 65 minutes. Chettle wallowed on and Reading contrived to miss three virtual open goals. A break down their right saw a striker free. Coyne raced out of his penalty area and forced the striker wide of the penalty box. The striker stopped. Coyne stopped. Coyne ran backwards and the ball was clipped over to the far post where Salako (I think) managed to volley the ball across the face of goal between Santos and the posts. A minute later the ball was dinked in towards the left hand post, a bunch of players stood around flicking their feet at thin air and Henderson (I think) was allowed to stand a couple of yards out and miss the ball as Coyne stood watching on the goal line. A minute later, on the other side, exactly the same thing happened, they flicked a kick and we didnâ€™t know. The introduction of Chettle hadnâ€™t particularly assisted, had it.
We were starting to get the feeling Reading were being nice to us, their players were missing open goals, and their crowd studiously ignored the gaggle of Grimsby fans, No taunts, just singing to themselves. Then again, they do follow a proper team, not one of your big time Charlie outfits. They know what relegation means. A group stood up and sang about going to Cardiff. Ah, they must have tickets for the Cup Final. Their left back, Shorey, tried another long shot, and missed by only 12 yards this time. I am sure Reading had other chances, but to tell you the truth in all that excitement I kinda lost count. They moved menacingly forward, but didnâ€™t produce anything that lodged in my memory as a chance. Perhaps we Town fans have become blasÃ© about what constitutes a chance against Town. Oh, there was one, when their final substitute, Cureton, stepped outside Santos and, from about a dozen yards out and to the left of goal, drove a low shot across Coyne, who plopped onto the ball with little fuss, but plenty of satisfaction.
Now Mr Cooke, I know youâ€™ve all been waiting to see him. Here he was, on the pitch for 90 minutes. Anonymous in the first half, he ran around tirelessly in the second, making a couple of great Poutonian sliding hooking tackles, and supplied several nondescript crosses. Adequate only. He did appeal for a penalty when one of his cross was forearmed away for a corner, but handball is no longer an offence in Town games. In the last 10 minutes a Mansaram cross was almost caught by Newman, who effectively dropped the catch at silly mid on. Just a corner given.
Weâ€™re at the end now, dribbling away to itâ€™s usual conclusion. As the clock hit the 90th minute Cooke hit a shot from way outside the penalty area with his left foot. The ball slowly bent over and away from the goalkeeper and surprised everyone by smacking against the face of the crossbar. This suddenly perked up Town and they rather poured forward, with Thompson and Mansaram suddenly alert and dangerous. The very next attack saw Cooke play a long pass into the centre, right on the edge of the penalty area. The ball bounced off a reading chest to KEANE who spun and slashed a drive across Hahnemann and into the bottom right hand corner. Keane ran up to the Town fans, took off his shirt and flexed his muscles at us. What would his mother say? And here we go again, Town attacking with Mansaram turning past his marker down the left, surging to the bye-line and pulling a cross back to the edge of the penalty area. Cooke, unmarked, hared forward and slashed a first time half volley rather too high and wide for the self respecting Town fans to feel dismayed.
And that was it. As the whistle blew Gallimore tussled with a Reading player way off at the other end of the stadium. It looked likely to be fisticuffs at three paces, but it soon calmed down. The Town players walked over and applauded us, with Santos ripping off his shirt, handing it to a small boy He clapped us, shook hands and waved goodbye. Now Dr Freud, what did all that mean?
Town had been fine for three minutes, and nearly snatched a wholly undeserved point. Reading were just superior, and it doesnâ€™t take Einstein to see why. We must congratulate them on a simple victory over our has-beens and never-wills. Reading proved that 4-5-1 can be an irrepressible attacking formation. Itâ€™s the players, see. They have â€˜em, we donâ€™t.
So who will get a debut next week then? We know the game matters to Brighton, but weâ€™d rather Stoke went down, wouldnâ€™t we? Mmmm Handyside....
Nickoâ€™s Man of the Match
Santos and McDermott were very adequate, with Keane a persistent pest, but it would be churlish to overlook Danny Coyne, who kept the score down. He finally produced a string of saves.
Mark E Markâ€™s Unman of the Match
Stuart Campbell. Itâ€™s obvious. Unlike him.
G Hegley. No it wasnâ€™t the Luton based poet, but a man incapable of seeing a handball. Which is why we lost, of course. Stop coughing at the back. His petty booking of Campbell saw him lose a whopping 4 points. He would, of course, have got them all back if heâ€™d sent off the Scotch Mist. He gets an arbitrary 5.521.
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