City's support in chicken and egg situation

Last updated : 26 November 2008 By Paul Evans
They came here prepared to have a go at us and were still dangerous when they attacked at pace in the second half when a man short. Their reaction to a first half where I am sure they felt the major decisions went against them was impressive and, once they equalised a second time, they saw out the rest of the game in a way most others in this league would have struggled to.

There is a "but" though. Reading were helped a great deal along the way by a poor and naive second half showing by City and it has to be said that too many in the home support gave the visitors a hand as well by putting the players under pressure to play in a way that suited the opposition down to the ground - unfortunately, some of our players succumbed to that pressure all too easilly.

So were the team responsible for creating an atmosphere in the ground that didn't help one bit as the minutes ticked by or was it the crowd reacting in an overly negative fashion which dragged the team down? Although I have seen been plenty of times in the past when the answer would have been the latter, my opinion is that this time around it was the former.

In a way though the team were victims of their own success in the first half. Despite making so many changes, Dave Jones decided to stick with his revolutionary 4-2-2 formation of recent weeks which sees us give up the central midfield area from the first minute (to be fair, I thought Steve McPhail played slightly better last night, but I'm afraid that Gavin Rae gave another of those invisible, off the pace performances that have typified him lately) and yet City played as impressive a forty five minutes as I have seen from us all season.

We have always had a fair ammount of pace going forward this season, but, with the arrival of Chopra and Routledge we now have even more but, more tellingly, there is much more ability to go with it. Therefore, it's probably right to say that Reading played into our hands a bit with their positive approach early on because we were tearing them apart with classic counter attacking football. However, sending off or not, there could be no dispute at all that at half time we were at least two goals better than a team who are, arguably, the best in our division - the fact that we weren't was solely down to us, for the second successive home game, criminally conceding a goal which came seconds after us having a corner.

What that first half did was raise expectations amongst a crowd who came to the match thinking City owed them a performance after last Saturday. For a while, the Plymouth debacle was forgotten as the team played in a way which demanded that the crowd get behind them. However, within five minutes of the restart all of the doubts were back and that was solely down to the way City started the second half. Mind you, I say started, but, mentally at least, most of them still seemed to be in the dressing room having their half time cuppa.

Whether they thought (or had been told?) that the game was already won and all they had to was sit back and hold on to what they had or not I don't know - that approach may have worked against some teams in the Championship, but Reading are better than that and it didn't take them long to score the sort of goal that a team with ten should never really score against a side with eleven.

From then on City never showed the patience or intelligence needed to break Reading down. I said earlier that I thought Steve McPhail played slightly better then he has done recently, but the emphasis must be on the word "slightly" and, anyway nearly all of his best stuff came in the first half. In the past, McPhail would have played a key role in us moving a team a man short around the pitch and bringing them out on to us. He did do that from time to time, but it was nowhere near often enough and, as he faded out of things, others gave us plenty of opportunities to see their limitations when it comes to passing the ball.

Given the right service, that front four we had out yesterday of Chopra, Routledge, McCormack and Bothroyd carry a real attacking threat, but, with them being starved of the right sort of service, I thought that, probably understandably, they were all guilty of trying to take too much on themselves from time to time.

So, I reckon there was plenty in the team's display after the break to wind the punters up, but, that said, it's been a while since I have left a game so annoyed with some of our supporters. Firstly, I swear that some still think we are in the old Fourth division as they shout for centre halves to shoot as soon as they get forty five yards from goal and demand that the ball be humped forward as quickly as possible at every opportunity. I can only assume that these people are amongst those in our support who think it is compulsory to have a shed load of beer before every game - it is reassuring to know that I am not the only one who spouts rubbish when they are drunk!

Secondly, there are often people on here who have a go at others for not signing during games, but who can blame them when you listen to the sort of stuff that was coming out of the Grange End at least in the second half - how are endless versions of "Oh Ingerlund is full of sh*t" and more renditions of the disgusting Shipman song actually helping the team? As for the way Eddie Johnson is treated, well, if it was ever funny, the joke has certainly worn thin now as far as I am concerned. With the team struggling to recapture the form they had showed earlier, it seemed that all many of the Grange End were interested in was childish cries of "Eddie" every time he got near the ball - if Johnson has a brain in his head, he must have realised by now why he is getting that sort of reaction and so how can that help a striker whose confidence in front of goal looks non existent?

Yes, a frustrating night all round during which City gave us tantalising glimpses of what they could be capable of but ended up giving us a reminder of why we seem incapable of scoring more than twice in a match. However, I'll end on a positive note by saying that I was impressed by Gabor Gyepes on his full debut. Like others, he struggled at times with Reading's pace, but, he was solid generally in defence and showed a welcome ability to be able to pass the ball constructively when given the chance - I'm not sure Reading would have been as willing to allow him the passing opportunities that they were all too happy to give Roger Johnson.