(Half Time: 1-0)
Reading Scorers: Rougier (50 mins), Salako (72 mins)
Tranmere Scorers: Barlow (41 mins), Haworth (48 mins)
Date: 7 April 2002

Reading: Whitehead, Murty, Viveash, Mackie, Shorey, Watson, Hughes, Parkinson, Salako, Rougier, Forster. Subs not used: Talia, Williams, Cureton, Igoe, Savage.

Tranmere Rovers: Achterberg (Murphy 17), Hinds, Hill, Sharps, Roberts, Parkinson (Hume 82), Henry, Navarro, Price, Haworth, Barlow. Subs not used: Yates, Mellon, Rideout.

Bookings: Barlow, Hill, Price (Tranmere).
Referee: C R Wilkes (Gloucester)

Reading regained second place in the table with a 2-2 draw at Tranmere Rovers. However, the result, Reading's seventh draw in eight league fixtures, means the Championship now seems set to go to Brighton. Reading went a point ahead of Brentford with two games left to play, but Brighton are now four points clear. A victory next Saturday could see Reading promoted if Brentford lose at QPR, but other results will see a dramatic promotion decider as Reading travel to Brentford on the last day of the season. The draw was perhaps a disappointing result after Reading have led the Division for most of the season, but it gives us the edge in the race for automatic promotion. It could have been a lot worse after Tranmere took a 2-0 lead just inside the second half. Reading had a couple of first half chances from Forster and Watson but the home side took the lead after a Tranmere cross wasn't cleared. It was 2-0 just after the break after an amazing shot from outside the area beat Whitehead. Reading pulled one back when Watson put the ball in the area and a Parkinson effort was saved and the rebound put in for a rare Rougier goal. Rougier's first goal for Reading since October 2000 was followed up by a Salako goal from a free-kick with eighteen minutes left to play to complete the comeback. Reading couldn't find the winner though and the draw was probably a fair reflection of the play.

Post Match Opinions

In the end the point will either prove priceless or pointless... excuse the pun. Tranmere Rovers - mid table can't make play offs, Reading - biggest game all season, chance to put massive pressure on Brentford and now Cardiff too, ultimately blew it again.
First half was appalling apart from one super effort from Forster. Defence look very shaky with passing from the back a joke. When we went 2-0 I guess most thought bollocks that's that, but at last we came to life and got back to 2-2 almost unbelievably. We then with twenty minutes to go and Tranmere on the rack we typically seemed to ease of, no more decent chances and no changes from Pardew.
I just can't be arsed to comment on Pardew's tactics anymore. What unbelievable support again, the noise and racket we made was magnificent. Like I've said so many times, if that doesn't make the players raise their game and die for club what will... buggered if I know.
Had the pleasure on the way home of listening to Seagulls on every single radio station phone-in it appeared, gloating over their promotion, so ironically down to our failure to win. To say that should have been us is another understatement of the century. It looks like we've forgotten or lost the belief how to win. I've now three wishes, Cardiff drop points in the week, Brenford lose at QPR and of course we beat Peterborough. Not a lot to ask is it! Just need to find a lucky genie now.

-- Nick Newbury

The dithering idiot, Prince of all clowns aka Alan Pardew, once again got it wrong today. Out thought by a mediocre team going nowhere fast. How much longer will John M put up with it? From the off the team did not know which system to play, a long punt upfield by calamity Whitehead to a non jumping, I'm going my way Rougier,or a pass to Mr - I'm not interested - Salako. Yes these two got the goals but could they miss? Forster was as selfish as ever. There was some fighting spirit after going 2 down, but at 2-2 a lack of will to win was abundantly clear. Too many points have been dropped recently, to poor teams who have had nothing to play for and we have failed to beat. Do Reading want to go up automatically? Or are the playoffs the preferred route to Div.1?
Go now Alan, before it's too late.
-- Rob S

Well - another draw - seen independantly from other results this was a reasonable point to earn however given our run of draws it still leaves me biting my nails for at least another week! We started brightly on the mud patch and Fozzie had a couple of reasonable chances, however we didn't do enough to seriously trouble the substitute keeper. The game dissolved into a ping-pong match around the centre circle and I was confidently expecting a 0-0 when Tranmere scored.
Both of their goals seemed to come from hesitancy in the Royals defence however we did well to come back for a draw, and much as we tried couldn't snatch a late (and probably undeserved) winner! I was personally surprised that no substitutions were made at half time as I thought Salako had a poor first half however credit to Pardew he stuck with it and was right not to change it as we came back strongly towards the end. Once again our final ball into the box (apart from the free kicks that led to the goals) was poor and we did not carve out enough clear chances to deserve to win - we still don't seem to quite have the edge to get around physical (dirty) teams and dominate the game... hopefully next season in division 1 we'll have less of those type of teams to play!
Come on URZ

-- Brummie Royal

Before the game I was confident, confident Reading would pick themselves up and ram all the criticism and 'bottlers' comments back down everyone's throats with a 2 or 3 goal victory and put all the pressure back on Brighton and Brentford. Instead after 47 minutes I was sat shaking my head in disbelief at a performance so inept and without direction or leadership it was straight from the Wolverhampton Wanderers book of 'how to blow promotion' volumes 1,2 and 3.
We were sh*te, a disorganised butch of headless chickens (because I cannot fault the guys for effort) but without any tactical purpose or plan for the game, unless the long hoof has suddenly found it's way back into the professional coaching manual. The defence, midfield and forwards are all playing in isolation and we have an uncanny knack of making mediocre teams like Tranmere look quite good. We have been reduced from the confident TEAM with a cocky swagger and the 'bring 'em on we don't care who it is' attitude at the turn of the year to a collection of individuals who have no confidence in each other's ability (Forster wouldn't even pass to anyone for Christ sakes, such is his apparent belief in his teammates) and all the tactical guile from the touchline of a lemming taking rock diving lessons.
Yeah we got back to 2-2, so there is some fighting sprit there, but we had them on the rack with 15 to go and we eased off, remember a draw is a point gained came the vibes from the bench. F*ck that, go for the jugular, we really should kill these sorts of teams off, we had enough on the pitch and the bench to take all 3 points but oh no Alan Pardew (anagram A DRAW PANEL, as someone on the forums pointed out this week) left things to run their own unplanned course. Oddly enough it is still in our own hands, clearly the thought once we got back to 2-2 but to me all that did was hand Bobby Hove Albion promotion (and the championship next week, fair play to them because there have gone out and WON games when it matters) and further increase my valium dosage for another 2 weeks (at least). C'mon boys we are better that this, believe in yourselves even if you manager doesn't. Still at least I can tell my grandkids when Rougier actually scored I was there... Nurse, pass me the tablets, it's gonna be a long week.

-- Darren Hall

I have just come back from a week long break in the Highlands to discover that Reading are even worse than when I went away. Of course I listened out for the results, but I am now becoming so embarrased by our ineptitude that I am finding myself losing interest. Of course II will be there on Saturday shouting myself hoarse but I think we are now staring at the biggest fuck up since Newcastle handed the Premiership to Man U. I am not really in a position to comment on the last three games because I wasn't their, but judging by the reports by other HNA reporters we are falling apart and I don't know why.
Desperate, Desperate, Desperate.

-- Bob Lethaby

Having just read the other reports I must say I would like to balance some of the previous comments. Admittedly it was disapointing to say the least to watch Tranmere take a 2-0 lead but both goals were well taken by a side that seemed relaxed and up for the game. I thought both Rougier and Salako had excellent games and when the team were hit by the second goal, rather than panic and bring on new players, Pardew kept faith with them and was justly rewarded. Reading were unfortunate not to get the winner as they continued to press. From what I saw I am confident we can win our last two games and get up to division 1 automatically. Of course it would be nice if QPR do us a favour.
-- Micheal Garland

Have only managed to see one game this season - and that was the disappointing 1-1 v Oldham at Christmas. Still enjoyed the freezing experience tho'! Not a fair-weather fan, just unable to go regularly, as I live in Berkeley, USA. That doesn't matter much, I paid my dues to Reading, and I still love 'em, even after all the near misses over the years. But they have been good years.
For a club like Reading, you have got to take the rough with the smooth. Face it, we're in a much better shape than 10 years ago. That said, I have to wonder though where some of you guys were when we were at Elm Park? Some good things must have happened recently, don't you think? Yeah, that's right a new stadium - the envy of many, a decent set of players, some promotions, some unfortunate relegations, even a few wins over Premiership teams.
Decent support these days (in numbers it seems), and even Kingsley seems like a lovely lad. Oh, did I mention the generosity of a certain Mr Majedski? Where would we be without him? Tell us Mr Smee...
I love your website, but have begun to wonder about some of the post match comments. Must be a happy bunch of fellas, always a choice comment to make about Pardew, or some of the players - not good enough, doesn't try hard enough. C'mon guys ease off. Well, it's down to the wire now. One home game left, although it would seem that some of you have given up the ghost.
Look at yourselves. How can you make a difference on Saturday? How can you be the 12th man? Here's how, spend less time crying over spilt milk and spend more time shouting yourself hoarse on Saturday. You owe it to Reading, not the other way around. Remember, this club doesn't belong to some guy in Newbury or Berkeley. It belongs to all of us, including the players and management. They will give it their all, and if they come up short, let's talk about it then. But for now, let's do our bit, help them out in the only way we can. Turn up, get your mates to turn up. Scream your lungs out and let the players know you believe in them. Come on you R's!

-- Gordon, Berkeley Royal-In-Exile

Well they have driven me to it! I have spent all year laughing at Nick from Newbury's asssessments of the games and wondered what actually drives people to want to email in an opinion game after game - but now I too need to sit in the wooden box next to the priest and spill my guts before I ask my wife to nail me to the crossbar dressed only in my sad old taking the biscuit 80's tour t-shirt. Spot the tortured Reading fan with a brain so frazzled by his teams inability to delight when poised to do so that it makes me honestly wonder whether brainwashing my 3 year old with his first Royals footie strip before the nerds from school persuade him to be a United fan is actually fair on him. Should he really be subjected to this agony year after year?
I still haven't watched the Bolton game on tape, nor my tape of the Play off Final in Cardiff but I can't help feeling that another Long play cassette is destined to gather dust in my football museum in the attic. You can't blame Pardew though, just think of that dense jock Burns and that Cabbie before him, what a shambles. We now have the best set up in the division, a youth development programme and a team that is almost not bad... see I'm at it again, building myself up for the big one on Saturday, getting all optimistic and beginning to think that Rouge is gonna score a hat trick, and Trevor (Our Lord!) will come off the bench nod it in at the far post, spit out his teeth and dive headlong into the East Stand to clinch promotion...
COME ON YOU ROYALS... save 2,500 poor Reading fans from witnessing my hairy arse dangling from the crossbar at Griffin Park!

-- Paul, Newbury, "Ex Cockney Royals"

What a beautiful Spring day on Merseyside, Nice little ground and club and Johnny Madejski gracing us with his presence in the Mersey Clipper before the game. What a shame what followed had to spoil it! I am almost too 'emotionally tired' to even comment on the game. I even thought I may need the old brown paper bag to stop myself hyperventilating at one point! My heart says we will win on saturday and Brentford will lose and somehow Cardiff will not manage their mammoth task, has anyone else seen them creep up on us? I certainly haven't, I thought they'd be lucky to reach the play-offs! My head, (unfortunately) says we've lost our bottle.
Good spirit yesterday, but we were 2-0 down before we really got going. The players look so nervous it's incredible. However, I did leave Prenton Park feeling like we'd achieved something and with two games to go unlike last year it is still in our hands. My criticism yesterday would be, why did we have to keep on 'playing long ball' - something which our manager says we don't do!, does he watch a different game ? the fact we scored with two headers tells you something. If Salako was mauled every time he got the ball then why not play it on the floor down the middle. Our final ball was woeful. Far too many aimless balls crossed in to the middle for a Tranmere defender to head the ball away without a challenge. Interestingly after they scored we started to win everything and I really felt we could win, but the belief wasn't quite there.
We really need a 'GREAT' performance on saturday, a good 3 or 4-0 would be fantastic and Fozzie back on the scoresheet would also do him some good. Finally, the Rougier vs Cureton debate ? - It's a really hard one to call, Rouge does cause problems but too often for me fails to deliver. Jamie arguably could have pounced on 5 or 6 half chances we had yesterday, we needed someone in the right place at the right time and he is capable of that. I think I would start with Rouge and at half time if it ain't happening then let's get Jamie on and sneak one.
It's about time we had a goal fest. Please, please, Reading don't fail us this year, we are second in a mediocre division and we would do well in the 1st Division. because by going up we would get some real belief back. Pardew, you need to stand up and be counted, motivate, cajole, do whatever you have to to make us in to that winning machine we were just a few weeks ago.

-- A 'far too emotional' Crowthorne Royal.

All season I have been one of the people who has said that Pardew hasn`t got the technical ability to take us up. I almost admitted that I had made a mistake , that was up to about 6 weeks ago when we started on our fateful run of draws. I feel I have been vindicated by inept displays by certain players and strange decisions by our manager regarding team selection. Why does a man who claims to be a `god fearing christian' keep trying to cheat his way into getting a penalty. Even ``skittles'' didn`t dive as much, Rougier is skillfull but oh so lazy. Poor old Curo, always the fallguy, who can blame him if he says sod it I`m off at the end of the season. Forster is a quality player, but he must also be the most greedy player to have worn the hoops. If he would pass the ball we would have scored a dozen or so extra goals this season. We have to accept that we have a great squad but not the manager to take us any further. I don`t suppose Mr Taylor fancies doing a swap?
-- K.W Tilehurst

It seems to be the same thing at the end of the season where disappointing results frustrate fans. We can't afford to be in the play-offs with the possibility of Cardiff at the Millennium Stadium and Reading;s record falling at the last hurdle. How many times can we stand to do so well and then throw it away. My prediction is that we will go 3 up in 10 mins against Peterborough only to draw or loose, and then at Brentford, please lets be realistic 5 up after 20 mins only to collapse like the England cricket team. COME ON ROYALS MAKE ME EAT MY WORDS, or get used to the idea that you don't deserve to be in the playoffs - let alone the first division.
-- Mr Frustrated

Perhaps you can just paste Berkeley Royal-In-Exile's comments over everyone elses, just for this week. The guy is absolutely spot on and every Royals fan should read, digest and act on his words. Far too may of us are perhaps too close to see the woods from the trees, and the honorary Yank seems to have a far clearer and more accurate view from across the pond. We have absolutely nothing to lose and absolutely everything to gain by being nothing but positive for the next two weeks (*if * the wheels fall off, and then only post playoffs, then we can start to moan and conduct the post mortems).
Come on everyone it's time to present a united front, back the boyz, make one helluva noise, and don't give up until the 'cheat in black!' blows the very final whistle.
Keep the faith - coz 'We are going up!'

-- AC - NW London

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