One quick one, then I’m going to Breakawayfrom the usual barrage (or should that be barrel?) of biscuit based puns that I normally undergo whenever I mention Reading on this site. However, I still refuse to accept their claims to be known as the Royals. I’m stubborn like that. Nope, these guys are the biscuitmen and therefore we look forward to our trip into the Biscuit Tin which would be a much better ground name that the Madejski.
Ordinarily with this the first Doncaster’s match after the closure of the transfer patio all the talk would be of Rovers’ new signing. But the arrival and unveiling of Billy Sharp will play inevitable second fiddle in pre-match talk to the issue of a player gone rather than one arrived. So Matthew Mills, we meet again. Mills of course left Rovers for Reading for £2million in August and just over a month later his move has him nearer to the bright lights of London, but also nearer to League One.
Facing former players, is an experience we don’t get often as Rovers fans. Such has been the improvement in our club in recent seasons when players have departed they’ve generally done so by dropping a division or two. But for Paul Green, Michael McIndoe and Darren Moore last season there are very few examples of players we once cheered returning to our attention in the ranks of league opposition. Even Darren Moore was stretching it a bit; coming face to face with a club he left more than a decade ago when it was all very very different.
So its hard to assess the reception Matt Mills will get on Saturday afternoon. It’s safe to say he will not be acknowledged as fondly as Paul Green or Darren Moore as though he was undoubtably a talented player he was much less a cult hero than the former two. The nature of Mills departure, coming after a long drawn out summer in which it was clear his head had been turned the moment any club with top flight experience giggled in his direction, twirled their hair and subtly raised their hem-lines, suggests that if any noise heads his way from the away end it will be the sound of disapproval.
Back to the bigger picture then and whilst Brian Stock had a very positive international break, there’s an argument to say that it came at the wrong time for Rovers. After encouraging play against Tottenham was followed with an even more encouraging victory over Cardiff Doncaster’s momentum may have been stunted somewhat by fourteen football free days. Either way Rovers will certainly approach this fixture positively with just one defeat in their opening five matches and with Reading undergoing something of a transitional start to their campaign.
Like Rovers, Reading’s only league victory thus far came in their last match as they defeated Barnsley in what was a bottom of the table clash at Oakwell. Prior to that the Biscuitmen had drawn at Swansea and been held at home by Nottingham Forest along with defeats to Sheffield United and Newcastle which for all the disquiet amongst the supporters at the Madejski is frankly a tougher opening run of matches than most clubs have faced.
New manager Brendan Rogers is slowly altering the personnel at Reading and although Matt Mills was the club’s only significant signing over the summer months the recent transfer and loan windows have seen the club much more active with Brian Howard, Shaun Cummings, Darren O’Dea, Jobi McAnuff and Gregor Rasiak all bolstering Rogers’ squad. There is no doubting this will be a tough game for the Rovers, but one that they will belive they have much more chance of succeeding in than last season’s corresponding fixture.
Long term absentees Steve Brooker and Sean McDaid remain unavailable for this game as they’re getting some new decking put down outside their medical room. Rovers also have another notable absentee for the trip down south with Paul Heffernan ruled out with a groin strain. That is likely to open the door for the inclusion of new loan signing Billy Sharp. However, its unlikely the forward would come straight into the starting line-up and is expected to begin on the bench. Also on the bench will be James O’Connor who is back in full training following his recent injury.
Reading have their own new signings to factor into their line-up with midfielder Brian Howard, full-back Shaun Cummings, previously of Chelsea and on loan Celtic defender Darren O’Dea all to factor into his squad. Howard and Cummings may come into the side although O’Dea is expected to begin on the bench, whilst a back injury prevents former Watford winger Jobi McAnuff making his second appearance against Rovers of the season. The Biscuitmen are also without Chris Armstrong who the BBC report as being ‘sidelined with a knee injury’.
Predicted Rovers line-up
(4-3-2-1): Neil Sullivan; James Chambers, Adam Lockwood, Jason Shackell Gareth Roberts; John Oster, Brian Stock, Martin Woods; John Spicer, Jamie Coppinger; James Hayter
subs: Ben Smith, Sam Hird, James O’Connor, Mark Wilson, Quinton Fortune, Dean Shiels, Billy Sharp
Travelling to the Game
If you’re driving to the game the Football Ground Guide advises that there is free street parking to be found on Imperial Way if you get there early enough. Leave the M4 at Junction 11 and take the A33 towards Reading. Turn right at the first round about onto Imperial Way and keep your eyes peeled for a spot. If you’re not that lucky you’ll see the usual entrepreneurial parking ventures about ranging from £5 to £10. Oh and give yourself plenty of time to arrive as well as Junction 11 can be very busy on matchdays and it can take 45 minutes to getf rom here to the ground at some games.
The ground is a fair way from the centre (approx 3 miles) so those travelling by train are advised to get the No. 79 Matchday Special bus from outside Reading train station. It costs £3.50 for a return but make sure you’re getting on it no later than 2pm as this too will be a victim of matchday traffic. Oh and behave yourselves too or they’ll not take you back again.
Rovers fans will be housed in the Fosters Lager South Stand, which is Australian for Away End. Tickets should be available for purchase on the day from the South Stand ticket office. Oh and it aint cheap either, tickets bought on the day cost £26.50 for adults, £15.50 for children and £20.50 for senior citizens or 17-21 year olds.
After successfully covering the Tottenham and Cardiff matches to an appreciative audience, not to mention updates from Brian Stock’s international bow, Viva Rovers will be delivering regular updates of this game too through our twitter feed. Either follow @vivarovers on twitter or keep an eye on the ‘Twitter Updates’ box on this website, and you will get to enjoy our account of the game in bursts of 140 characters, and pictures too. If you’re in South Yorkshire or Berkshire you should be able to follow the game via BBC Local Radio as well.