Coca-Cola Championship / England / Reading

Come on you Royals!

Rants and raves (but mostly rants) about following a 2nd division team.

Saturday’s FA Cup tie with Liverpool was especially enticing for me because not only would we be playing the storied Reds, but that I would also get to watch the game on TV.  A draw against a major club guaranteed that the game would be available somehow and we found it on Setanta at the Dark Horse.  Up until recently I had only been able to follow my Royals through text commentary but was blessed with the gift of ReadingWorld a few weeks ago, and now I can listen to radio broadcasts of matches through the club’s website. (This has been a fantastic way to experience football by the way.  Crazy English announcers who sound like they are calling the game from the middle of the supporter’s section, and who actually know how to call football on the radio).  But actually being able to see my boys up against the underachieving Liverpool side on Saturday was a special treat.

I was asked before the match by a friend if I thought Reading had a chance against a Liverpool side that has already crashed out of the Champions’ League and played themselves into 7th place in the Prem.  I reminded my friend that Reading had only won twice (yes 2 times!) at home in all of 2009 and are currently sitting 20th in the League.  And I admit, I was a little disheartened to see a full strength Liverpool side selected.  How could we match up with Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres? (I was pretty sure we could match up with Lucas).

So the game….absolutely amazing!  Reading was on the front foot from the opening whistle and had most of the early play.  Moving the ball around well with Jobi McAnuff particularly giving the Reds fits down the right side (as he has done all season against lesser competition).  We earned a few set pieces, looking especially dangerous on corners.  And it would be a free kick in the 24th minute that led to the unbelievable, Reading going up 1-0.  A long ball was kept in by Gregor Rasiak on the touchline and Simon Church was standing 2 yards from goal to push home the loose ball.  Holy shit, we are leading Liverpool!  Of course I didn’t say it, but I thought to myself “I don’t care if we go on to lose this; the fact that we scored and went up is good enough.”  I really was just hoping to not be embarrassed at home (again) and to be up was a cherry on top.  But the goal awoke the sleeping Red giants and Liverpool tied the game on a long effort from Gerrard that Adam Federici couldn’t get a hand to.  1-1 at halftime.

I figured on the second half being Liverpool holding on to the ball and looking for their chance to take the lead.  I looked at the Reading subs list and saw almost no one that could be the missing piece to find the winner, while the Liverpool bench had the likes of Yosi Benayoun, Ryan Babel, and Alberto Aquilani (sure, why not?)  But it was Reading who had most of the early play, with McAnuff still running rampant down the right side.  Chances were few for both teams and Liverpool responded by bringing on Benayoun and Aquilani.  Reading swapped out Rasiak for Shane Long and were forced into replacing goalkeeper Adam Federici when he was injured 20 minutes from time.  Backup goalkeeper  Ben Hamer looked uncomfortable from the beginning and I thought our luck may have finally run out.  But it never came.  Torres came closest in stoppage time, heading just over the bar.  But the final whistle came and it finished 1-1.  Back to Anfield we’ll go.

Absolutely amazing.  Not only did we manage a draw with one of the best teams in the world; we did it playing organized, attacking football.  And even better?  I got to see it on TV.  And we get to play Liverpool again!  And as I said above, we can lose at Anfield and still be happy with the result from Saturday.  But there is that nagging thought in the back of my head, what if we can win at Liverpool?  What if?  Adam touched on the thought that the FA Cup might not hold the luster that it used to.  But I assure you that this game meant everything to the Royals and the Reading fans.

One Comment

  1. I’m telling you, Mike, just defend the Kop end! You can do it!

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