1 April 1999
Gillingham 2 Reading 1
Howie, Gray, Primus, Casper, Maybury, Parkinson, Caskey, Glasgow, McLaren, McKeever,
Subs Used: Brebner, Scott
Scott (for another well taken goal)
This was Reading's final chance to close the gap on the play-off positions. Even with victory against Gillingham only a blinding late run could have seen us rise to sixth in the table. It was all over after the Manchester City game really, but this really was the final chance - and Reading failed to take it. Despite a gallant second half performance by Reading, Gillingham always had the game well under control, and it was only deep into the second half when Scott came on that Reading started to really threaten the Gillingham goal. And so, although we probably knew if months ago, the season is over.
One player who will emerge from the game as if victorious is transfer deadline day signing, Keith Scott. Scott, signed from Wycombe last week, has taken a massive amount of stick from Reading fans who doubted his ability. With only six goals all season for Wycombe I was among many who expressed public dissapointment at his signings. I am more than happy to be proved wrong. In less than a full half playing for the hoops he has scored twice. Two well taken goals - against two of the best defences in the whole division. All of a sudden it seems more logical than ever that he should make a start on Monday against Fulham. Where else are the goals going to come from?
Unfortuantely, once again, Scott's goal came when it was too late. Reading were already two down to a third minute goal and a second half strike from Asaba, when Scott came on from the bench. He did his best and almost pulled a point back for Reading but two goals down away from home against a team point above is almost an impossible task.
The other player who will take the headlines is Reading reject Carl Asaba. After a goal hungry start to the season, rising to one the division's leading scorers, it had all gone quiet for Asaba. After missing a few games through injury Asaba had scored just one in nine games - no suprise to see him score Gillingham's eventual winner and condemn Reading to Division Two football next season.
Asaba also played a part in the home side's first goal early in the first half. The ball came over from a corner, Asaba flicked it on with his head, and the ball was headed into the back of the Reading net. For the rest of the half Reading didn't know what to do. The home side were well in control and Reading failed to trouble the Gillingham keeper.
The start of the second half saw a massive improvement from Reading as we started to make something of our possession. Our biggest threat came down the right wing with Maybury and McLaren linking well to create a bit of trouble. McLaren almost put Reading back on level terms before Gillingham scored against the run of play. Asaba started a move inside the Reading half and eventually received the ball back to slot home.
Reading made it 1-2 when Primus played an excellent long ball towards Scott. Scott took it on his head and guided it into the net. With Reading looking for a late point Gillingham stopped coming forward and played out the time to almost confirm their play-off spot and send Reading to their second consecutive defeat.