MATCH REPORT: 2002/2003 Season

Reading: Forster (25 mins).
Murty (og, 75 mins) Naylor (84 mins).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 27,678

10 May: Wolves 2 Reading 1
(2nd Leg: 14 May 2003)
10 May: Notts F 1 Sheff U 1
(2nd Leg: 15 May 2003)
Reading: Hahnemann, Williams, Brown, Shorey, Murty, Hughes, Harper, Henderson (Cureton 84), Sidwell, Forster (Tyson 61 (sent off 90)), Chadwick (Newman 72). Subs not used: Watson, Ashdown.
Murray, Irwin, Lescott, Butler, Naylor, Ndah (Newton 66), Ince, Cameron, Kennedy, Blake, Miller (Sturridge 86). Subs not used: Oakes, Rae.
Reading: Sidwell. Sent Off: Tyson (90 mins)
Butler, Ince.
Referee: Alan Kaye (Wakefield)

Wolves needed two late goals to grab a last gasp home win in this first leg fixture - and they should be very worried about the return leg at the Madejski Stadium on Wednesday night after Reading looked the better team for long periods of this game. In the end it was a game of two halves as Reading immediately rose to the occassion to practically dominate the first half before Wolves regained their composure late in the second half to steal the victory. Wolves now have just a single goal advantage to bring to the Madejski Stadium - and there's every chance that will be immediately wiped out. Reading were excellent today - all across the team. It the end it was disappointing to have lost out after leading for fifty minutes of the game and looking good for the win, but there were so many positives that we should now look to Wednesday and the massive game set to take place at the Madejski.

It would have been easier to come to Wolves and defend in an attempt to get a draw, but Pardew doesn't work like that and thankfully not as the travelling Reading fans were treated to a premier Reading performance that could have taken that win. Alan Pardew had clearly come to get the first leg advantage with a brave team selection that included both Henderson and Forster in the starting eleven, with Henderson playing behind Forster on the left. With a full strength defence in place, Pardew opted for Sidwell in midfield, who went on to have a superb game with some excellent tackles and some quality passing of the ball. The whole midfield put in huge levels of effort and it was only Chadwick that let it down with some careless passing that broke down some good moves. Otherwise we played some excellent passing football throughout the game that put Wolves to shame. Up front Forster had a blinder throughout the game as he twisted and turned through the Wolves defence causing problem after problem. Forster's match was brought to an early end just after the hour when he limped off through injury - lets hope it's not serious and he's available to play on Wednesday. Forster's replacement Nathan Tyson also suffered an early exit after a rash two footed challenge in injury time that saw the referee produce a straight red card.

It was clearly going to be a tight game from the early exchanges that saw both teams share the ball with a variety of solid challenges flying in. The referee was more than happy to accept the continual diving from some of the Wolves players and the continual awarding of bizarre free-kicks meant the game took a while to really get flowing. Reading started to play the ball around and pushed forward through the midfield. Henderson, who looked clumsy down the left to begin with, soon settled in and Reading were doing the majority of the running to bring the ball forward. The home side were obviously nervous and continued to make mistakes as they attempted to come forward as the Reading defence won absolutely everything that was put at them during the opening half. Wolves relied on their physical qualities more than their skill as Reading looked comfortable on the ball. The home crowd was quickly silenced as Wolves failed to generate anything and the Reading fans were in good voice under a sea of blue and white balloons.

Reading won the first corner of the game and saw the first proper shot on target as Nicky Forster hit an effort from distance that was easily saved. Wolves physical approach saw them pick up the first booking of the game after Sidwell was taken out in the middle of the pitch. Sidwell certainly wasn't backing out of any tackles today as he provided a real stoppage point for Wolves as they attempted to come forward. Reading were starting to get on top and went ahead on twenty five minutes after some excellent work by Shorey down the left. Shorey got nearly to the line and put over a fantastic cross for Forster who had somehow managed to break free in the area on the right. Forster controlled the ball a treat and smacked it into the roof of the net to put Reading 1-0 up. The away fans went mental and the home fans were silenced for the rest of the half. Reading continued to contain Wolves - they managed an effort way over the crossbar and a free-kick just outside the area was driven in the wall and cleared by the Reading defence. At half time Reading were looking very comfortable in front.

At half time we knew the game couldn't possibly be over. For Wolves to have any chance they needed to win the home leg and Reading had been so much in control in the first half that something had to change. However we briefly threatened to extend the lead when Forster broke into the area on the left and jogged past two defenders. Forster couldn't decide whether to shoot or cross - his shot was well wide of the right post from a tight angle and Chadwick was just inches away from sliding the ball into the empty net. The loss of Nicky Forster, for a reported ankle injury, just fifteen minutes into the half seemed to coincide with Wolves getting back into the game, however their come-back had already started by then. A powerful shot from well outside the area on 55 minutes looked to be heading into the top left corner of the net before Hahnemann made an excellent save to push it wide. The Wolves fans suddenly found their voices for the first time in the game and Reading were on the back foot. Newman came off the bench as Pardew looked to tighten things up. The substitution made loads of sense as Chadwick, who was struggling to make an impact, was replaced with a player who would help keep possession and the lead.

Wolves pulled level immediately after Reading were on the attack once again. Henderson broke down the left and went for a shot, which was prevent from finding the target by the boot of the full back. It was an obvious corner, but the referee gave the goal kick. The ball was played forward and into the Reading area from the left. A Wolves player went down inside the area and there were huge appeals for a penalty. The game seemed to pause for a second as the ball came loose to Newton well inside the area on the right. Newton appeared to drive it into the left side of the net - it later turned out it was going wide until a cruel deflection off Graeme Murty. At 1-1 Wolves had the upper hand all of a sudden and it was a case of survival.

Hahnemann was again at hand to keep the scores level when a low shot from outside the area saw the Reading goalkeeper get down quickly to his left to push it wide. After a solid period of Wolves pressure the home side stole the lead when Ince saw a Brown leg outstretched on the edge of the area and dived over it to win the free-kick. Moments later the free-kick was hit to the left of the Reading wall and into the corner of the net to Hahnemann's right. Cureton replaced Henderson immediately after the goal but I can't remember him really getting a touch as Wolves looked like they might get a third. A third would not have been justice and Reading may feel slightly hard done by to end up losing - however it was an impressive come back from the home side and hard to argue with the result. All that was left was for Tyson to get his marching orders for a challenge that saw the Wolves number six leave the pitch on a stretcher. The Reading players came over to applaud the fans - if only the Wolves fans could have been so gracious in victory.

ken c
The first half today was as good as it has been following Reading for more years than I care to remember. We were outstanding. We started with a confidence and a poise which was evident for all of the football world to see. A brave team selection and a positive attitude. We were superb. There were heroes all over the park and Fossie's goal was no more than we deserved. You could not fault anybody as we pressed and with a bit more composure we would have gone in two up. It was a terrific atmosphere with a fantastic away support and an atmosphere that was helped by the Wolves fans. The fact that we could not hang on to it was ultimately disappointing, but the result was probably fair given what happened. The loss of Forster was the turning point. Henderson moves into the middle, it might have been braver to stick Tyson there as had happened at Notts Forest but Henderson was tiring and suffering from cramp. The Wolves players did look physically stronger, especially in midfield where we were men against boys, but those boys will be around for a long time hopefully and take us to new heights. Cries of USA from the crowd bore witness to the game that Marcus was having. He was superb. OK so Wolves scored twice and we lost our shape, but nobody could be critised today. Tyson's tackle looked late but I'm not sure if it was a straight red, I need to see a replay! Once our young lads learn to play a killer ball, we will be unstoppable! Finally, is there a better pair of full backs in the division? On today's evidence I think not, and not many better centre backs! Bring on Wednesday!!!
telford royal
The big turning point in this match was the loss of Nicky Forster in the early part of the second half. Up until then Reading had taken the game to Wolves with pace, determination and plenty of confidence. Wolves were on the back foot and gripped with the fear of more play-off failure. They were booed off at the interval, amazingly! Then the game turned and Wolves made the most of their good spell, scoring two late goals. It may be a one goal advantage for Wolves, but in reality there is nothing between these teams.
stevie p
I really want to say how much I enjoyed the game. The noise, the colour and the football. This is why I love this game and team so much, this is why we watched and watched again through the dark last days of Branfoot, Bulivant and Burns, this is why we come back after 6-0 drubbings and relegations, because one day we'll be witness a game like today. OK the result (at half way) didn't flow in our favour, but play off games are rarely decided on the first leg. The game is ours to be won, and believe you and me this tie will still be in the balance come 21:30 next Wednesday.
worthing royal
A truly fantastic first half, in a brilliant atmosphere. The second half was not so good, particularly after Fozzie went off. Basically, even when he didn't skin the defenders, he still frightened them sufficiently to keep them deep in their own half. After his substitution, the Wolves back line were able to move up, and it was this that changed the game. I personally think that Cureton should have been a straight swap for Forster. I know hindsight is a wonderful thing, but everyone in the part of the ground where I was said exactly that when Tyson came on. Nathan probably will become a great player. I am afraid this game was just a bit too big for him. I saw Fozzie's ankle after the game, as the Wolves stewards were kind enough to let our coach driver park next to the Reading team bus. We could see him through the coach window, and he looked in a lot of pain. When his protective leg plaster was removed, it revealed a massively swollen ankle. I hope that if he is injured for Wednesday, and I cant imagine there is much chance that he wont be, that Pards plays a sufficiently attacking formation in his place. We must score early, and build on it. The other thing I hope is that for once, the Mad Stad can emulate the fantastic atmosphere that we witness away from home. Stoke last week, and Wolves yesterday were so much more electric than the sterile feeling at home. Even Norwich and Ipswich were unbelievable, and that was before they knew whether they had anything to play for. As the annoncer says, 'BACK THE BOYS, AND MAKE SOME NOISE. COME ON YOU RRRRRs'
nick newbury
Proud, knackered and mentally drained just about sums up how I felt as I got in late last night. Our lot travelled up in a minibus and though we all held out hope and quiet confidence, we all agreed before the game we take a one goal defeat. However, for some reason we all felt flat after the game, was it the fact we were 1-0 up and ended up losing, that we played so well for an hour or the sight of Fossie limping off with what looks a bad injury?
I think the brutal truth is that for most of us the heart says one thing yet the head says another, and that is, can we stop Wolves scoring on Wednesday and can we get a result? Don't get me wrong, of course we can, done it before and we'll do it again, but if Fossie is out, then that is a massive blow to our chances. I'm many will disagree but we are almost a one man team with the way we play, counter attacking is all based around Forster. That was so evident yesterday when we played so well for the first hour, we'll never know but I reckon there would have been a great chance of getting a second goal if Fossie had stayed on, but we'll never know.
The back four was simply awesome and Yankee Doodle Dandy had his best game of the season and was quite outstanding, midfield dominated but super James Harper worked their socks off and run themselves into the ground, and Henderson playing out of position done well proving Pards to be a master tactician by playing him wide on left. When Henderson had to go up front his lack of pace was cruelly exposed and never looked like scoring.
Wednesday promises to be an amazing night, I agree it's going to be so tight and tense, an early goal would be "wet ya pants stuff" and if we play like we did yesterday we can do it, it's just up front, surely he can't do it again can he, not in a game like this, not a late winning goal.... not Jamie Cureton!!
Finally a few words on the scum who call themselves so call fans of the so called "great " Wolverhampton Wanderers, well get this, I've been to most grounds in the country I've met countless opposition fans, with the exception of Cardiff, nobody comes close to this lot. Spitting on kids and elderly fans from the stand above us, screaming obscene abuse with such nasty hatred of the like they should be prosecuted, big fat grown up men hurling objects and obscenities at us, men with kids! in the apparent executive boxes screaming at us through the glass to go outside and fight, their arrogance, cars getting stoned afterwards, the pure hatred, it just defies belief. They are scum, and if, if they should progress I hope they lose to a last minute own goal in the final and yet again miss out on their so called god divine right to the premiership! Bollox, they are history and they deserve nothing if they continue to be supported by animals like that. To all you Royals fans, who proudly and honourably support your club all pray for a result on Wednesday, if there is a God, let's hope he wears a blue and white hooped gown... URZ!
dudley wolf
Whilst I realise we all tend to be biased towards our own team, please! Reading frustrated the wolves for 60 minutes by flooding the midfield and playing the counterattack well, but you were restricted to 3 chances including the goal, when we re-arranged the team by switching to 4-4-2 from 4-4-3 we dominated the last 30 minutes creating 11 clear goal scoring opportunities resulting in 2 goals which would have been 5 or 6 if it wasn't for your excellent keeper. I doubt whether we will play as badly as we did for the first hour, and on wednesday you have to take the game to us, and you know how good we are on the counter (Norwich & Ipswich away). Its obviously not over and I remember the first 10 minutes of the league game at your place where you could have led 3-0, a lot will depend upon Forster's fitness, may the best team win. Also I have to agree with the comments about some of our so called fans there was a lot of intimidation but them Elm Park was never a nice place to visit either!
rochdale royal
I don't want to say too much about the affairs on the pitch as I think everyone posting an opinion on this match has summed up my thoughts. But I will say its far from over. Driving down from Manchester my mate asked me for a prediction. I said " 2-1 wolves with a 2-0 return to the Royals on Wednesday. nothing I saw yesterday changes that opinion. Also I think Tys did deserve to go as it was a very late and two footed challenge. He is young lad and I hope that he learns from it.
I wont go on about the scum Wanderers fans either as Nick has got it right However I feel that something needs to be said about the policing and arrangements for visiting supporters in the ground. This set up may work at some grounds where the public are a little more civilized, but here its an ideal set up for people with the mentality of the scum bags we encountered, even some of the police appear to be thugs. Its just inviting trouble and I felt uncomfortable the minute I walked in. Anybody else know a ground where they have the same arrangement? As for police thugs, apart from that apparent apathy to do anything about the spitting and coin throwing, I also encountered a PC who I believe abused his position.
I was stood outside the ground after the match when I witnessed two royals supporters complaining to a PC about people walking from the ground with blood pouring from their heads and asking why weren't the police doing anything about it! his reply which was arrogant and smug "Welcome to Wolverhampton, that's what happens, its shit isn't it" just the reply you expect from a public protector to whom we pay wages!! Being a public servant myself I believed that this attitude needed challenging, so I told him that I thought that it was a disgusting attitude to take and isn't it any wonder that there is trouble at football when the very people who are supposed to stop this sort of behaviour seem to condone it! I went on to tell him that I had taken his number and would be making a compliant. his reply" I'm f**king scared" to cut a long story sort I went to check his number again to make sure I would remember it and again told him that I would be complaining. At this point he became very aggressive and said that " if I didn't f**k off" he would arrest me. so I asked him how could he arrest me I have done nothing wrong, (I believe that this is a free country and I am entitled to speak my opinion and I also have a right to make a complaint against the police if I feel its justified). he replied I will just f**king arrest you.
It was interesting to note that his colleagues stood and said nothing, I hope they have the balls to say something to him after, but then that's just wishful thinking! to anybody who has a gripe against the police at this match just to let you know I will be taking this matter further, I know the copper will lie through his teeth and his collgues will support him or mysteriously not have been there. but it will be nice for him to sweat a bit. I have a witness to this and if the fellows who complained originally in this dialogue want to contact me through this web site they are more than welcome.
Well off the soap box looking forward to watching the second leg.
C ome on boys you can do it.
y24 east
Have to agree with what's already been posted about the game. Reading were superb for probably the first hour but I believe a combination of things contributed to us ending up 2-1 down at 'half-time,' not least the experience in the Wolves midfield of Ince and Cameron who were able to con the referee into giving free kick after free kick against us. Ultimately it was from one of these dubious awards that they finally scored. We need to learn very quickly from this as I'd imagine we get the same ref on Wednesday night! Before travelling up on Saturday I have to admit that my feelings were that if we can't get into the premiership then I would prefer it if the Wolves got there rather than the other two teams (Can you imagine having to listen to both Wenger AND Warnock whinging throughout next season).
However having experienced the disgraceful behaviour of the wolves fans first hand I have now completely changed my opinion on this. Nick Newbury's comments capture exactly what happened both in and out of the ground. I was sat behind the goal with the two sets of fans only separated by a very thin line of stewards and Old Bill and the aggression and aggravation we had to withstand all afternoon made for a less than enjoyable afternoon. Surely it would have made more sense for Reading fans to have been given all of this end. So Wednesday night lets get right behind every member of the team and lets intimidate both the Wolves team and their fans by making the loudest and constant noise throughout the entire evening.
sussex wolf
I'm not sure if you'll post this as I'll say up front that I'm a Wolves fan. I've just read some of the comments on your site, especially those relating to the poor behaviour of some Wolves fans. Wolves as a club have made significant efforts to cut out the hooligan element from the following, and still continue to do so, especially when events happen inside the ground. If any of you had a bad experience from people in executive boxes, or from the stand above, write to the club with your seat numbers and they can work out where this came from. The front row of the whole of the stand above you is marshalled by Stewards so the least the club would do would be looked at what the stewards were or weren't doing, the cheif execs. name is Jez Moxley, and they will take it up and follow things through.
Whilst it doesn't justify what happened on Saturday, remember how Wolves fans were treated when we returned to Elm Park with a certain Mr McGoo as our manager, through no fault of our own we were the target of hostile abuse (remeber the 'nutters' corner by the away end) coining during the game, abuse afterwards. Personally I got hit by a car as I was walking down the road outside Elm Parmk, not hard but deliberate! Every team has got them!
I queued for 5 hours last Wednesday to get a ticket for Wednesday's game, alongside me in the queue were pensioners, children, women etc.and they would be equally appalled as most Wolves fans are at the incidents refferred to in other E-mails. I really hope it is a fantastic game on Wednesday, that the best footballing team wins and that the winner of our game goes on to promotion in Cardiff.
crowthorne royal
The 'wedding' curse hit me at the weekend I'm afraid and I wasn't able to attend the game. As for the game and result etc, it's not a bad one and Wednesday should be a fabulous occasion and probably on of the very few times where we will really feel at home at The Mad Stad and be able to intimidate the opposition with our noise level. The Mad Stad can feel very empty sometimes but at really key games it can almost be as hostile as Elm Park. (Wigan play off 2nd leg and Peterborough last season - also another sticks in my mind, QPR at home when Hahnemann saved with his head, a brilliant atmosphere, we won 1-0). The main point of my post though is to respond to both Wolves & Reading fans who have posted about unsavoury incidents at the game. We all know these go on and I'm not criticising people for bringing it to the fore.
However let's not let petty rivalry effect peoples behaviour on Wednesday. I love travelling to away games with Reading. We are very vocal, sometimes though a lot of our chanting becomes about criticising the opponents and the opponents fans rather than praising our own team. Lots of Royals are talking about the bad behaviour of Wolves fans but after talking to my mate who went to the game I asked him about how loud, etc we were? His answer was that we were loud but to use his words, 'We were a bit too close to the oiks who sang nasty and intimidating chants throughout'. So, we all need to take responsibility for our actions. Let's make it friendly banter on Wednesday and pray that we can win without Fozzie!!
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