Charlie brings spark to dull Stoke City draw

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Both keepers could have been lounging in an armchair with a whisky and a cigar as they had so little to do today. Only the returning Charlie Adam for Reading made this game interesting, but after he went off only sub Scott Hogan added any spice, & not much of that. Both sides will be content with a point, but Stoke fans will NOT. Former Stoke coach Mark Bowen (now Reading boss) certainly WAS happy, despite neither side having a shot on target.  Here’s how it unfolded in real time:
Forget all you think you know about football. Today is the last home game before Christmas. I know this not just because they play an extended version of Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody over the tannoy, but because it’s pantomime season. And who has been the pantomime villain the last few seasons?? Yes, CHARLIE ADAM, and HE’S BACK. Yes, in the starting 11! 7 days ago he was Reading’s forgotten man, but after Tuesday’s comeback (Reading equalised from his corner), he’s been a shoe-in for today. He is entertainment, so we’re expecting fireworks here today. Batth replaces Shawcross for Stoke (oh, dear), so here we go:
1.37 Under pressure from Cousin (who’s clearly been told to muscle Adam off the pitch), Charlie lifts a decent cross from the left. Reading already chanting his name, probably asking him to save them a slice of pizza or something.
6.53 Charlie does it again! Mind you, it’s like last season with McClean – no one in the middle on the same wavelength.
13.15 Charlie gets a round of applause before taking a corner! Uh? He plays for the other side, guys! Great corner, Reading shot blocked. Charlie’s chunky thighs are everywhere! He went in for a challenge on Edwards, and I did fear for Tommy!
18.33 Charlie takes out Joe Allen! But a Great long free kick from Edwards is headed meekly over by Clucas.
20.27 Keeper Rafael messes up a back-pass, but Charlie’s clearance almost lands in the path of their centre forward. How does he do that?
22.00 Charlie’s shot flies high up into the Boothen. Almost takes out a light.
29.27 Stoke start playing football at last! Passing the ball around as if they mean it! They even put the ball in the net, but Ince is several miles offside. Crowd wake up and smell the pizza (the one Charlie is supposed to be sharing, no doubt).
34.54 Charlie comes off worse in a challenge…and gets yellow carded! Now you know why we’re watching him so closely. Adam tries to run the injury off, but he’s not a happy bunny.
43.34 Ince tries his regular fancy shot off target. Ooo! go the crowd, but it’s tosh really.
45+1 HT Stoke 0 Charlie 0
45.00 Swapping Tommys: Smith on for Edwards. Attendance: 21,701. Hm.
51.15 Bloody hell, Charlie even has the nerve to forge into the area & shoot! Wide thankfully.
53.35 Clucas sets up Smith to shoot just over. Unexpected.
62.00 Scott Hogan gets a cheer as he comes on for Vokes, who not many had even noticed. (He’d set up the offside goal.)
64.45 Charlie Adam is substituted. Reading are finished, surely! Game is over for me.
71.27 Hogan causing chaos everywhere. But somehow the ball wont go in. He’s then bundled off the pitch, and whilst he’s being treated Clucas goes down and the Reading trainer comes on to deal with him. Not convinced. Looks like more pantomime to me.
82.04 Ince flashes one across the goal, as gaps appear and chances are happening. Powell on for Clucas. Last roll of the dice.
87.23 So cool a game this has been, that Jordan Cousins is named Man Of The Match. Surprised they didn’t choose Charlie Adam!
90.00 Fourth official puts up blank sign! It’s supposed to say 3 minutes added. Thankfully we’re telepathic.
90+3 I think the game’s over. Thank god. A point each. Now let’s forget all this.