(Half Time: 0-0, Full Time: 0-0, AET)
Reading Win 6-5 on Penalties
Reading Scorers: -
West Ham Scorers: -
Penalty Scorers: See base of report, above opinion.
Date: 11 September 2001
Attendance: 21,173

Reading: Whitehead, Murty, Williams (Viveash 95), Whitbread, Robinson, Harper, Parkinson, A Smith, Igoe, Butler (Rougier 100), Cureton (Henderson 68). Subs not used: Ashdown, Shorey.

West Ham: Hislop, Schemmel, Minto, Song, Dailly, Hutchison, Carrick, Moncur (Courtois 71), Sinclair, Defoe, Todorov (Garcia 85) Subs not used: Forrest, Soma, Foxe.
Minto, Song (West Ham).
Bill Jordan (Tring)

YES! What a night! What a thoroughly deserved victory for the Royals!
A packed Madejski Stadium filled with Reading fans in full voice saw the Royals outclass their Premiership opposition tonight. Tonight was a dream come true as Reading pulled off a thoroughly deserved victory over Premiership West Ham United in front of 21,173 fans. The game had everything apart from goals - until a penalty shoot-out in which Reading emerged victorious. This was a game to remember. You can't beat getting home with a throat this sore.

One good sign for this season is Reading's settled line-up, as again we put out a near enough identical team to recent matches. Up front Butler was prefered to Rougier and we started with the Butler Cureton partnership. West Ham fielded a near first choice side but found starting places for players like Defoe who normally finds himself on the bench for the Hammers. Butler and Cureton didn't see much of the ball in the opening twenty minutes as West Ham started the game well. It looked like we might well be up against it as West Ham came forward looking for the early goal. Thankfully we defended amazingly well and West Ham were restricted to a whole string of long range shots early on - none of which over threatened a comfortable Phil Whitehead in the Reading goal. Most seemed to go wide or over, and when they did find the target Whitehead held them well. It seemed the Premiership side just couldn't get close with an effective Adrians wall and Murty and Robinson both getting back to put in blinding last minute tackles. Murty and Robinson looked like the full back we've needed for a couple of seasons - they were both superb going forward and making the vital tackles.

Meanwhile Reading's final ball was letting them down as we did well to bring the ball out of defence only to then hoof it forward failing to find a player. It was almost like we were giving West Ham too much respect and thought it best if we resorted to the long ball game. Smith was guilty of a couple of poor balls forward that failed to find a man. Thankfully that didn't last long. We kept West Ham out, and then started playing proper football. And it worked a treat. As the first half progressed West Ham had less and less of the ball and Reading started playing it beautifully along the ground winning more and more possession.

We started to create stuff from defence with Murty starting off more than one move that moved us towards the target. Martin Butler and Jamie Cureton had been starved off the ball during the first thirty minutes but were fully involved as they came back to defend. Butler, only recently back from injury, was everywhere to win the ball back for Reading throughout the game. Towards the end of the first half they started getting service to their feet as Reading began to take control of the game. Cureton was almost set up by Murty but just failed to get close enough, and Smith had Reading's first real shot hitting it wide from an Igoe corner as Reading put on the pressure. As Reading swarmed through West Ham were forced to conceede a free-kick right on the edge of their box. Man of the match Murty failed to put the ball through the wall though. Towards the end of the half Reading stepped up a gear further to win a couple of corners, but failed to get a real shot in on target.

West Ham slightly superior first half showing was quickly erased at the start of the second half as Reading made it clear they'd fully settled and intended to win the game. If you had to choose which team was the Premiership side you'd have chosen Reading whose on the floor fast passing style always looked likely to bring some reward. West Ham meanwhile were starting to realise an upset was on the cards and were guilty of some terrible balls going forward that matched Reading's lobs forward at the start of the first half. The game had turned around, and it was Reading's turn to get some shots in.

At the start of the second half Shaka Hislop received a massive welcome from the Reading fans as he prepared to defend the North Stand goal. The Reading players didn't give him half that welcome as that welcome as they went full out on the hunt for the goal that would stop the game going to extra time. Just after the break Butler broke through after a cross from the right and Hislop did well to come off his line and block Butler's close range shot. Our pressure won a few more corners and Butler got his head on one sending it just wide of Hislop's goal. West Ham started to look more and more nervous and we almost created a goal from a corner from the right which Shaka failed to hold when he probably should.

West Ham were just starting to get back in the game when Cureton was replaced by Henderson. Just like Saturday, Henderson was instantly involved with his size and height causing confusion in the West Ham defence. He battled hard for the ball and won a couple of good headers from 50/50 balls sent into the box by Reading. Reading's pressure continued, but we were starting to look knackered. With the game approaching the end I couldn't help but think it was now or never with West Ham likely to come strong in extra time. Smith hit a superb shot from outside the box which was narrowly over the crossbar but we couldn't get the winner, and the ninety minutes ended at 0-0.

Reading had played so hard and fast it seemed impossible we could keep it up. West Ham had soaked up a lot of pressure and it seemed they might choose extra time to go on the attack. The first period of extra time went just like that. Adrian Williams, after a performance much improved from Saturday, was replaced by Viveash after a hard challenge inside the Reading box. Williams limped off but was ready to come back on only to realise he'd been replaced - so no real fears of a major injury. Meanwhile Martin Butler, who'd run himself into the ground, was replaced by Tony Rougier. The best chances of a goal fell to Henderson who got in a couple of excellent headers just wide of the target after some great flowing football from the Royals. We were knackered but continued to play.

We could have won it in the second period of extra time and it looked like we had when Smith, getting better as the game went on, supplied a great low cross across the face of goal. It missed everyone including Henderson towards the far post. If he'd stuck his leg out we might have got the winner. It was that close. And it was closer moments later when an Igoe cross saw Henderson do well to get his head on it. Unfortunately Shaka was there to tip it over the bar for another Reading corner. Down the other end West Ham almost grabbed a late winner themselves with the ball seemingly cleared off the line from a corner. Full time 0-0.

Whatever the result we'd had a great night's entertainment despite the lack of goals. A penalty shoot-out meant we were second favourites to go through. West Ham had the superb shot stopper Shaka Hislop in goal, and we'd already replaced Butler and Cureton meaning they weren't available to take penalties. It all looked like a cruel end. But that wasn't how it was going to be.

Smith took Reading's first penalty in front of a deafening North Stand - and it hit the base of the post before sneaking in. We all breathed again, thinking perhaps luck was on our side tonight. Murty and Rougier stuck theirs away well, to make it 3-3 on penalties. West Ham went 3-4 up and Harper delivered a weak penalty saved by Hislop. Surely that was it. We were going out? But no, there was more drama left as Defoe hit the post for West Ham to send the game into sudden death penalties. Igoe and Henderson scored theirs making it 5-5. Then Minto stepped up for West Ham - and Whithead dived to his left to make the save! Yes! Viveash needed to score to win the game for Reading - up he stepped and fired it home. Reading had won 6-5 on penalties to end an amazing night. The Madejski Stadium went mental in celebration. This was a night to remember.

Following report from John Wells
A packed Madejski stadium erupted when Adrian Viveash drove home a penalty to give Reading a deserved victory over their Premiership opponents and send them through to the next round of the Worthington Cup. This was fantastic result and without doubt a fine performance from a Reading side showing character, determination and high level of skill. It was a match full of incident. It was delight to see two sides committed to outplaying each other without resorting to the sort of negative tactics witnessed a few days earlier on the same pitch.

The game was preceded by a minutes silence as a mark of respect to the thousands of victims of a vile act of terrorism in New York and Washington. A solemn reminder that whatever happened during the game was going to be overshadowed by the awful events unfolding elsewhere.

The game was a classic act of giant killing. The opening exchanges saw the Royals matching West Ham in most departments, although the Hammers looked more threatening near goal and more assured in possession. Towards the end of the first half Reading forced the visitors defence to make some hasty clearances and there were signs that Reading might break through. It was well over half an hour before Reading produced a strike on goal when Murty broke into the box and forced Hislop to make a save - albeit a comfortable one. West Ham were still looking very dangerous on the counter attack. Reading were defending well as a unit, and breaking up West Ham attacks with some perfectly timed tackles. The home fans were begining sense an upset was on the cards at half time.

The Royals grew in confidence as the game progressed. Hislop made a fine save from Butler from close range and Smith fired a shot just over the bar following a ball into the area from Murty. Henderson and Rougier replaced Cureton and Butler to freshen up the attack. Henderson looked clumsy with the ball at his feet but the Hammers defence found it difficult to cope with his strength in the air. He had two attempts which went narrowly wide and should have scored from close range but headed the ball straight at Hislop. The game could have gone either way in extra time but West Ham were looking increasingly uncomfortable against a persistent and tenacious Reading.

The penalties provided a dramatic finale. Both sides converted the first three confidently and then Harper failed to convert his, presenting Defoe with chance to put the Royals out. Surprisingly the talented young striker hit the outside of the post. (Surely nobody was more relieved than Harper!) Igoe gleefully equalised and the home fans roared with anticipation as Minto failed to restore the Hammers lead. Adie Viveash did not let them down thumping in his penalty emphatically. The celebrations that followed were worthy of winning the Cup! The team deserved their applause. It was a fine victory.

After the game Martin Allen declared it was a fine team performance- which it was. I hope he also noticed that the defence beaten to the ball at every corner and some ideas on how to overcome this worrying weakness. I'm sure he could not have failed to notice an outstanding performance from Graham Murty who defended with determination, linked up superbly with Igoe, and presented a real threat to the Hammers defence.

Penalty Shoot Out - Full Details
Hutchison (West Ham) Scored 0-1
A Smith (Reading) Scored 1-1
Courtois (West Ham) Scored 1-2
Murty (Reading) Scored 2-2
Carrick (West Ham) Scored 2-3
Rougier (Reading) Scored 3-3
Sinclair (West Ham) Scored 3-4
Harper (Reading) Saved 3-4
Defoe (West Ham) Missed 3-4
Igoe (Reading) Scored 4-4
Dailly (West Ham) Scored 4-5
Henderson (Reading) Scored 5-5
Minto (West Ham) Saved 5-5
Viveash (Reading) Scored 6-5
Reading win 6-5 on penalties

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Post Match Opinions

Fantastic!! What a performance, right across the whole team!
Tonight it would be hard to single anyone out for praise as the whole team played superb passing football, consistently won 50/50 balls, and generally dominated a second half particularly that could have seen us win by two or three. Even defending was never in desperation, it just oozed class! Adrian Williams ..... where did this game come from? You were superb tonight! Murty was my man of the match, pressed hard by Igoe as ever, Smith whose touch and passing was brilliant ....... and even Matt Robinson who played a blinder.
Cardiff on Saturday seems like it took place in another era completely! If we play anything like as good as this throughout the season we MUST be going up this year. The team tonight played with a confidence and flair that compared well with the 94/95 side that nearly went all the way. Fantastic!
Top marks too for the referee. He was fair, stayed out of the game as much as possible, and made some sound decisions for both sides. Well done that man!

-- Gary

Our first penalty hit the post, hit Shaka and went in. Defoe's penalty hit the post and went wide. That's how close it was. If you weren't there, you should have been. It was a wonderful night. Two teams keen to pass the ball around on the floor. A ref who did not need to blow his whistle (when was the last time Reading did not have a player booked?) and an ending that will be remembered for a long time.
There was little to choose between the two sides. I thought west Ham shaded the first half, and we were the better side in the second.
Everyone contributed. The management made good substitutions, as Cureton lacked sharpness to be replaced by Henderson who was able to expose their inability in the air and the tiring Butler who had ran his socks off, was replaced by Rougier. The only bit that went wrong was the switching of Viveash for Williams when the communications between the phsio and the bench went wrong, but who cares and who smashed in the final penalty?
Man of the match? All of them, but if anyone worked harder or gave more than Murty, I didn't see him.
Back to reality on Saturday, but this was a different game to Cardiff, this was how football should be played.

-- Ken C

I forecast that West Ham would be a different kettle of fish to Cardiff. They did not give us enough respect and as the game wore on we grew in confidence and even Robinson showed composure which he has been lacking for a long while. This is just what the doctor ordered after Saturday, and I am sure confidence is once again sky high in the Royals dressing room. Again it was good play from Murty and Igo that made Reading tick, and the defence looked far more solid against a premiership attack. Why could they not have done that on Saturday? Anyway lets not harp back, the future once again looks promising, one word of caution however, for all Readings excellent tackling neat passing and better movement, we still did not get the ball into the danger zone enough to give Butler and Cureton opportunities to punish the Hammers. Whether this is just a confidence thing or whether the players run out of ideas, it needs addressing. If Pardew can link the good work of Igo and Murty oh yes and don't forget Smith to the attack then surely the goals will flow. Lets hope Reading can now build on this fantastic result and carry the performance over into the league and start dominating the second division which with our set-up is our rightful place. Pardew will have to keep the players feet on the ground as hard work is still required. Well done Reading and well done Adie Vivash, what a penalty. PS should not Whitehead take the free kicks, if he can harness that vicious swerve he puts on the ball when he kicks it into touch from a goal kick, he could be our answer to Daren Casky! Come on Phil, I know you made some good saves and stopped a penalty but a little more concentration on the goal kicks would finish the performances off!
-- Paul Finch

After the unbelievable tragic events in the States, to comment the day after on a game of football seems quite surreal. It is worth commenting though on how the minute silence before the game was impeccably observed by everybody in the stadium. Life goes on though and Reading thoroughly deserved to progress after a thrilling game last night. Everybody performed well, with Murty and Igoe again standing out. Only other thing I'd like to comment on was young Dariuz Henderson who I thought done really well when he came on. He may not possess much pace but his presence and contribution last night was very heartening , including his penalty which was tucked away with a touch of class. Let's hope we carry on at Stoke where I'm sure we'd swap last nights win for three points there, but with four games out of our next five at home after Stoke, we've a great chance to set our stall out for the rest of the season.
-- Nick Newbury

What a fantastic team performance. I was so proud to watch the same team that never really got into the Cardiff match make West Ham look very average. Matt Robinson had to be my man of the match. He looked comfortable under pressure from Sinclair, made several crucial challenges and played a 1000 times better than on Saturday. I really thought we would choke in the shootout, but we showed yet more mental strength and I was pleased that Harper's miss was irrelevant in the end. The most impressive thing last night was the support. Normally when we have large crowds the regular fans are so split up that the atmosphere suffers, but not last night. I was sat in the corner where the east and north stands meet and that was one of the best atmospheres I can remember since south bank days. We'll have to persuade Big Jason to sit there for every home game!
-- Alex, Bristol

It all seemed so insignificant on the way to the ground. After spending an hour watching the news from America unfold, I can't say I was up for the game. I'm glad I went. Not just for the fantastic performance and result, but the distraction from more serious events. Thanks Boys! So the game. Well, the first half belonged to West Ham. The rest of the game was exclusively Readings. What can you say about the passing, commitment, tackling, energy and dedication? They were great. We played a Premier League side and WE played the Premier football. If I had to pick a man of the match I would struggle with them all playing so well, but it would be Murty. Hasn't he improved? Likewise, Darius Henderson looks better each time he plays. I'm going to Stoke this weekend. If we play half as well as last night, place your bets now on all 3 points.
-- Paul, Thatcham Royal

After witnessing the two play-off final defeats this was a night to savour. I travelled up from Southampton where I live now, had a brilliant time & then on returning to my mates house in Tilehurst watched it all again on telly. If Reading keep the ball on the ground & play anything like this an automatic promotion place is there for the taking. All the best for the rest of the season lads.
-- Phil Green.

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