BSAD report: For much of the game, the defence was less an accident waiting to happen than a catastrophe in progress – the individual performances were generally sound, but the unit was a haphazardly-assembled flat-pack – and various other parts only functioned in fits and starts too. Really, though, you can’t escape the fact that, for a side without a win in four games, this was an extraordinarily eager, aggressive and whole-hearted performance.
With the dreaded “Manager of the Month” award so deservedly won by Ray Lewington in October, the mythical curse seems to be the prominent feature of November. In a frenetic game that neither side dominated, a missed penalty from Neil Cox proved the key moment of the game for Watford, as a horribly deflected shot from a speculative Watson punt on the hour mark ensured Reading collected all three points, sending the large travelling Hornets contingent home very unhappy indeed.
Rituals are very important to the superstitious football fan, a cornerstone of the build-up to any game. Having a match put back to a Sunday to accommodate your opponents’ holiday plans may threaten to scupper these routines, but they’re still pursued if more by dint of habit than in honest belief that they will influence a game’s outcome.
If last week’s game against Wolves had represented a ‘new challenge’, then Saturday’s visit to Millmoor represented a very old and familiar challenge. This would be the time-honoured traditional slog, no-one was under any illusions, we all knew what to expect. We’d have to be strong, determined, and bloody-minded to take points out of this one or my name’s not David Sheepshanks.
For us exiled fans, match days are a mouthwatering prospect. I mean, match days that really do mean attending a game of football, free from work pagers or a menacing family committee hellbent on visiting Ikea. As a man of the cloth, I would suggest to anyone wishing to know what a definition of hell is, to visit their nearest Ikea store. You can’t even pop out to the car for an update fron Radio 5 without having to run round the entire building.
Bad luck tends to follow swiftly on the heels of manager-of-the-month awards. For Ray Lewington, a home draw against the might of an ever-improving Wolves side may have felt like a defeat but third place in the First Division should be sufficient consolation.
Here, everything that we’ve achieved so far was to be tested. For the first time since our unbeaten start to the 2000/01 season, we were defending a place in the top six against one of the First Division heavyweights, in form and ready to take us down a peg or three. This was something different, a new challenge.