Peter Lynn, wrinklier than the other regular Pete on these pages (Sixsmith, for anyone who’s just visiting from Mars), has been a persistent champion of staying to the end, suppressing any urge to boo our own players and generally keeping the faith against all odds. The first part of his contribution to this year’s series of end-of-season revews needs to be published now as there are time-sensitive references …
Yes, I know it is not the end of the season. Yet.
However, as I walked away from the Madejski stadium last Saturday evening I was overcome by the feeling that I had just witnessed not only our last chance of survival go begging but also our whole season in one match.
Thus I find myself in the position to be among the first to respond to Monsieur Salut’s annual request. If allowed, please click on Youtube video below and, by way of accompaniment, listen to Crowded House and their 1992 song: Four Seasons in One Day.
The Reading game itself, [oddly enough – Ed] like all 14 of our games I have actually been at this season, was very entertaining.
We dominated for long periods and had the better players in most positions on the field. We were by far the better team in our attacking build-up play and consequently created – by far – the most scoring chances.
Why didn’t we win? Because, crucially, we had poorer players in the two positions that win (or don’t win) games; namely striker and goalkeeper.
To look at both our players in question and view them against not only their opposing equivalent players on the day but also how they fared against their keepers/strikers, in my opinion, explains our result.
In this respect, I have no idea what these individuals are like as persons, I just speak about what I saw of them at work.
Ashley Fletcher. He got into good goal scoring positions in both halves. In the first, he missed his target and hit the post. In the second, from a right wing cross, Mannone smothered his near post attempt.
Jon Dadi Bodvarsson. He took up good positions throughout the game and held the ball up well and was brought down for the goal that denied us three points.
Lee Camp. I nearly left this blank as everyone will have seen him give away the penalty and therefore nothing needs saying. However, it is what led up to it that is probably more telling and relevant to our season as a whole. Under no pressure, he shanked a goal clearance straight to one of their players.
Vito Mannone. He not only produced two top class saves to deny us goals, his presence inspired confidence in their defence in totally opposite fashion to our own keeper.
Of course, a team is not only two players but 11-a-side and, as happened on Saturday, our goals can come from elsewhere than strikers. But as I said to my friends during the game, Grabban would probably have scored a hat trick from our chances. Equally, the long cross from which their equaliser came should have been easy to defend.
In the lyrics of the song you may have been listening to is the line “Only one step away”. I have that feeling now.
Do not make the mistake of listening to another of their songs, Don’t Dream, It’s Over – it will reduce you to tears …