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Reading 1 City 0

I wrote in the Observer on Sunday that the three forthcoming games (Reading, Blackburn and West Ham) were more likely to be an indication of our season hopes than the opening three were.

If last night's performance is any pointer then it is likely to be a long struggle, and a not very entertaining one at that.

At half-time, the game was still there for the taking and my prediction of a 2-1 victory was still very much alive, but a second half performance that offered even less than the previous forty-five minutes ensured that we continued to be the only side in the Premiership to not score from open play.

Despite Stuart Pearce talking afterwards that it was our best performance, I thought it was anything but. It was expected that Hamman would come in for his debut but he was left on the bench in favour of Reyna - who returned on the left in place of Vassell.

Throughout the game, there was a lack of width from both sides - with the full-backs being the most attacking threat, and no link play between the midfield and attack which left the forwards isolated. However, the performance of Corradi and Dickov was poor last night. Corradi looked strong with his back to goal but without any link to the midfield was ineffectual whilst Dickov's contribution was minimal - failing to get any power behind a great chance in the first half.

I cannot understand those who have cheered Dickov's every move since his return, yet counter that to the indifference that Anelka received during his time at the club. Although Samaras looked bright, clearly, we are some way from the quality in attack that we had during Keegan's days at the club and highlights the loss of Andrew Cole even more so.

I thought that Pearce got the substitution of Richards totaly wrong. Initially, I thought Reyna or Sinclair would be withdrawn and Richards moved into midfield where he would have been a bigger threat. Whilst his petulant reaction was wrong, let's not forget he is only eighteen and was certainly frustrated at the decision. It is something he will learn from, and hopefully it doesn't now lead to a spell on the sidelines to 'educate' him.

As for Reading, I thought they offered little. The goal they scored was as a result of a needless foul (also see the first goal at Chelsea) and I thought Weaver was culpable as a 'keeper should come for the ball around the six yard box as if an attacker wins the header he has virtually no chance of stopping the ball. As good a shot stopper he has shown, it is worrying that he doesn't display the presence he should on set pieces.

But back to us. We do have what looks to be two difficult games on paper coming up with an attack that is not threatening any goals at all. It has been a difficult start on and off the pitch so far this season.

It may not get much easier any time soon.