A Game of Three Thirds!
Tuesday 9 January 2000 GMT
Well this was a creditable performance by the Clarets at the end of the day with many positives to take from this match. We have to first remember we were playing a Premiership club and despite the less that respectful decision by Steve Coppell to field a reserve team, we were still up against it with the likes of Leroy Lita and Sam Sodje pitched against us. Oh the luxury of being a wealthy Premiership club, with depth in the sqaud and squad size we could only dream for! This seemed to be a match of three thirds with the Clarets third being our best spells,about 20 minutes at the start following an initial bright start from the Royals and 20 minutes at the end.
The Clarets seemed to find a weakness in Reading's defence down the flanks and Jones and Elliott at one point looked like they might have a field day but it was not to be after Reading's first goal!
Sadly, Reading completely dominated in the middle two thirds going 3:0 up with about 35 minutes to play thanks to goals by Lita on 27 minutes, Long on 37 and Sodje on 55.. At that point, most Clarets feared a drubbing but the lads showed great spirit to fight back with goals from Ade Akinbiyi on 69 minutes and a goal from Garreth O'Connor in the dying seconds of the match.Ade's goal was a cool lob over the advancing Reading goalkeeper Federici from 20 yards.
That goal also seemed to spur on Steve Cotterill who immediately after brought on two substitutions with Mahon replacing Jones and Lafferty on for Gifton Noel-Williams. The move worked as we embarked on our best spell in the last 20 minutes with continual pressure. With about 6 minutes of normal time remaining on the clock a further substitution by Steve Cotterill saw Garreth O'Connor come on for Wade Elliott. Although leaving it too late, Gareth scored a delightful goal with seconds to spare before the whistle. Harley's cross being converted via a volley.
There were many encouraging sides from this match but lots to think about too. However. although we wont be progressing any further in the FA Cup competition we can at least now concentrate on trying to get promotion from the Championship. Hopefully the last 2o minutes of this match, will give the lads heart which they can hopefully carry forward into our next League match away to Saints this Saturday. There were some question marks about our defence but we do have to remember that Duff couldnt play in this match due to suspension with Sinclair also out injured. Steve however will have to look at strengthening in this area and maybe we will see a new face in this department before the transfer window closes at the end of January. We also need to look at our performance during corner kicks. How many games have we had a significant number of corners and failed to convert any or even come close? Last night the corner count was 9 for the Clarets compared to Reading's 4. A good sign we are pressing in the match but pointless if they all turn into damp squibs!
We seemed to have countless chances in this match particularly in the two 20 min spells at the start and at the end of the match but again we seemed to lack that killer instinct to convert these. It is clear we need some additional weight and strength in attack. Ade might be partly the answer but he wont be the complete answer. The rumours flying around that we are looking at a number of strikers in the transfer window to bring to the Turf tend to bear out that last remark.
Oh well we wont be getting that dream visit to Newcastle in the 4th Round but onwards and upwards. This at least didnt turn out to be a tonking which many feared at 3:0.
Federici, De la Cruz, Sodje, Ingimarsson (Pearce 74), Golbourne, Ki-Hyeon, Oster, Bikey, Convey, Lita (Kitson 60), Long.
Subs Not Used: Hahnemann, Hunt, Harper.
Goals: Lita 27, Long 37, Sodje 55.
Jensen, Thomas, McGreal, Foster, Harley, James O'Connor, Noel-Williams (Lafferty 70), McCann, Elliott (Garreth O'Connor 84), Jones (Mahon 70), Akinbiyi.
Subs Not Used: Branch, Spicer.
Goals: Akinbiyi 69, Garreth O'Connor 90.