About Me

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Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom
I'm a director of Maidenhead United Football Club. For ten seasons one of my roles at the club was to produce the match programme. The aim of this blog was to write football related articles for publication in the match programme. In particular I like to write about the representation of football in popular culture, specifically music, film/TV and literature. I also write about matches I attend which generally feature Maidenhead United.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Championship Class

Hosting West London's top social function last night meant football had to wait until Sunday this weekend so I took advantage of Reading's visit to Queen's Park Rangers to walk to a game for a change. Although the nearest ground to my home I much prefer to visit Craven Cottage or even Griffin Park rather than trudge through the side streets of W12 to Loftus Road. I've never warmed to the London Rs and their subbuteo stadium, a feeling apparently shared by most of my fellow locals judging by the way they struggle to sell out games even in the top flight. Likewise Reading were unable to sell out their top tier allocation at the school end, hardly surprising with seats priced £40-£45 with just about enough leg room for a child and a restricted view of the goal beneath. Still at least I had a perfect sight of the touchline where Mark Hughes and his coaching staff waved their arms with ever frantic impatience as the game went on.
This seat was also adjacent to the block of home fans where Moroccan Ben Lauroa sits at the front proudly sporting a custom made sombrero in club colours. A common complaint about football is that there are no characters in the game anymore. Well with this guy spending his time either waving his rattle or blowing a horn, not to mention Djibril Cisse and his blue mohawk, Loftus Road is bucking the trend.
Both clubs have famously acquired new rich owners in the last year or so but on today's evidence neither looks like getting any immediate pleasure from their new toy. At least in Reading's case this has not been the result of fiscal stimulus yet, however serious questions must be asked about how Tony Fernandes has broken up a team that looked like they were built to survive by Neil Warnock when I saw them play at Arsenal last Christmas. Certainly with the likes of Alejandro Faurlin, Bobby Zamora and Shaun Wright-Phillips on the bench Mark Hughes cannot complain about a lack of resources. Reading however lined up much as they had done in the Championship and had much the better of the first half as their well organised team efficiently got the ball forward down the flanks and created plenty of opportunities in and around the box, mainly as a result of set pieces.
In reply QPR had little to offer relying on the individual flair of Adel Taarabt and jinkin Djibril Cisse to create a chance with the only end result being the odd long shot which did little to trouble Reading goalkeeper Alex McCarthy.
Reading took a deserved lead just after the quarter hour mark, unsurprisingly from a corner. First to the ball was Sean Morrision who at the second attempt headed the ball against the bar. Kaspars Gorkss was first to the rebound and acrobatically volleyed the ball into the back of the net.
As the half drew on QPR began to get a little bolder with Jose Bosingwa taking a more advanced role on the right wing which accompanied by the crowd getting on the referee's back to influence the award of a few soft free kicks saw Rangers enjoy their best spell of the game, only being denied an equaliser when Esteban Granero (who only seemed to touch the ball at set pieces) saw his free kick touched onto the woodwork by McCarthy.
After the break QPR took the upper hand, taking advantage of both Reading full backs conceding their flank next to the penalty area. This inevitably led to the equaliser midway through the second half when a Bosingwa cross eluded the Reading back line allowing Cisse to nip in and score.
At this point the stage seemed set for QPR to go on and win the game but instead it was Reading that dominated towards the end although QPR came closest to scoring. That the score remained level was reflective of the lack of quality in both teams' forward lines. Reading showed plenty of energy and drive in their attacking moves spearheaded by Jimmy Kebe and Noel Hunt but had no one capable of troubling goalkeeper Julio Cesar even when a Royal head was more often than not first to the ball at several set pieces late on. Rangers counter attacked quickly mainly through Taarabt, but he lacked the composure to beat McCarthy when through one on one, the keeper pushing his effort round the post.
The final whistle left both teams win less having produced a display which was more akin to the Championship rather than the Premier League, as shown by the man of the match, Jay Tabb, a tireless engine of perpetual motion in the midfield but hardly a player you pick out as top class. Over to the club owners now, but I would say Reading's current approach shows the most long term prudence, if only because Rangers cannot attract the support to justify further outlay.

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