Date:Saturday January 28 2006
David Dunn came of the bench to save Blues’ blushes against a below strength Reading outfit. For the last 35 minutes of this otherwise turgid cup tie David Dunn lit up the Madjeski Stadium. A hat-trick and man of the match would have been scant reward for the former England man. Manager Coppell rested some of his league leaders but those that made it onto the pitch seemed well versed in what Blues strengths might be. The entire first half was spent roughing up Chris Sutton who as usual is given nothing by referees. Today’s ref Mr Styles allowed a roughhouse back line lay into Jermaine Pennant as well.
Without his three top centre backs the Boss gave his son Alex Bruce and Olivier Tebily responsibility of shoring up the middle. Mario Melchiot was given the captain’s armband. Tebily particularly looked far happier in the centre half berth and broke up several attacks. He was caught out however after 34 minutes when the whole left side of Blues defence went AWOL . Shane Long was left clear on the right and fired low to Taylor’s left giving him no chance.
Blues frankly were lethargic and the hard frozen pitch was not to their liking. Blues were creating very little and went in at half time deservedly a goal behind.
Blues were continuing to lack conviction and tried manager Bruce’s patience a little too much. Not since Barry Fry’s pub team style management have three subs been thrown on at once but that was what the Blues’ boss decided. On came Dunne, Kilkenny and Forssell for the lack lustre trio of Jarosik, Heskey and Izzet.
The changes had the desired effect as Blues immediately took up the offensive. It was Dunne who has Blues first shot in the game when he chested down a Pennant cross but his half volley was well over. He then through himself head long at another Pennat cross only to see Stack in the Reading goal pull off a neat save.
These proved to be just a sighter when a few moments later Sutton flicked a Melchiot long throw on. The ball fell to Dunne who this time got his technique perfect and volleyed home from eight yards.
Blues looked a different side now and swamped the Reading goal. The Berkshire outfit looked out on its feet. Melchiot up for a corner headed point blank only to see the ball amazingly hit Stack and rebound to safety.
Tebilly found himself in the book when he tangled with Lita way out by the corner flag . The challenge was nothing more that a tangle of legs with the attacker causing little danger. A foul certainly, but a caution was ludicrous.
From the free kick Sonko lunged at Alex Bruce with a forearm not out of place in WWF. Bruce was knocked out cold and play was held up for several minutes. There was no cards shown and in fact Styles restarted with a dropped ball.
Then Sonko did find his way into the book when Forssell jinked past a defender or two before being hacked to the ground. The resulting free kick was the highlight of the game. Pennant’s curler looked bound for the top right hand corner but Stack flew to his right and managed to squeeze the ball against the post and away to safety. Dunne was to get to the ball first and was flattened from behind. Styles was in no position to offer an opinion. He waved away Blues claims and considering they were away from home and in injury time they couldn’t really have expected Mr Styles to rule in their favour.
Mr Styles then gave a foul outside the box when Dunn was upended in the penalty area. The line is in the penalty area but not according to this incompetent man in black.
Blues now face a replay in ten days with a full compliment and maybe their new signings. The Bolton game will be put back, giving them the chance for their African players to return. However after facing Liverpool and Arsenal in the next 7 days , a ‘must win’ game in the league may not be the best thing to have had up next.
Biscuitmen: Stack, Halls, Sonko, Gunnarsson, Makin, Hunt, Sidwell, Harper, Oster, Lita, Long (Doyle 90).
Subs Not Used: Hahnemann, Little, Ingimarsson, Osano.
Booked: Oster, Sonko.
Goals: Long 31.
Blues: Maik Taylor, Tebily, Melchiot, Bruce, Lazaridis, Pennant, Izzet (Kilkenny 57), Johnson, Jarosik (Forssell 57), Heskey (Dunn 57), Sutton.
Subs Not Used: Vaesen, Oji.
Goals: Dunn 67.
Referee: R Styles (Planet yet undiscovered).
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