Bitter-sweet start for Halford
FORMER Colchester United star, Greg Halford, admitted that his “bitter-sweet” debut for Reading came as no surprise.The youngster's first appearance for Steve Coppell's Premiership side, at White Hart Lane on Sunday, saw him give away the penalty that allowed Robbie Keane to fire the winning goal in their 1-0 defeat at the hands of Tottenham.
By Carl Marston
FORMER Colchester United star, Greg Halford, admitted that his “bitter-sweet” debut for Reading came as no surprise.
The youngster's first appearance for Steve Coppell's Premiership side, at White Hart Lane on Sunday, saw him give away the penalty that allowed Robbie Keane to fire the winning goal in their 1-0 defeat at the hands of Tottenham.
Ironically, though, Halford's first game for the U's had also ended on a low note, when Phil Parkinson's men were handed a 5-0 drubbing by Luton Town on Easter Monday, April 21, 2003.
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The 22-year-old defender was understandably excited when he found out that he would be playing instead of the injured Graeme Murty against Spurs, but his debut soon turned sour when referee Alan Wiley pointed to the spot in the 39th minute for handball.
A dejected Halford, who joined Reading from Colchester for a club record £2.5m in January, summed up his feelings after his long-awaited Premiership debut.
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“I was buzzing to know I was going to play and loved every minute of it,” insisted Halford.
“The quality is a lot better at this level. My last game was against Ipswich in late January, so my match fitness isn't really there.
“I was getting tired near the end and then they put Aaron Lennon on down the left, which wasn't great for me!
“It was a bitter-sweet debut, but it seems to be the way it goes for me as when I made my debut for Colchester, we lost 5-0 against Luton.
“The penalty was a bit hard as I felt it was ball-to-hand and not hand-to-ball. The referee shook his head at first and then all of a sudden he has given it, which was a bit strange.
“He didn't say he changed his mind. He said the ball had changed direction purely because it hit my hand. It leaves a bit of a bitter feeling, but these things happen,” added Halford.
Reading had goalkeepers Marcus Hahnemann and Adam Federici to thank for keeping the score-line down. Hahnemann pulled off a string of superb saves in the opening half before being replaced at half-time because of a hip injury, and Federici followed suit in the second period.
Tottenham's victory moved them up into sixth position in the Barclays Premiership and Halford admits it will be tough for Reading to realise their own European ambitions this season. The Royals are four points behind Spurs in eighth place with Everton also hunting European qualification.
Halford continued: “It's going to be tough for us to finish in the top six. We want to pick up as many points as possible and prove that we are up there on ability and not luck.
“It will be tough to get into Europe now, but we will keep going.”