(Half Time: 0-0)
Reading Scorers: Forster (56 mins).
Huddersfield Scorers: -
Date: 12 January 2002
Attendance: 10,775

Reading: Hahnemann, Shorey, Mackie, Williams, Hughes, Gamble, Igoe (Jones 83), Parkinson, Salako, Forster, Rougier (Henderson 89). Subs not used: Ashdown, Robinson, Cureton.

Huddersfield Town: Margetson, Heary, Gray, Moses, Evans, Hay, Holland (Wijnhard 67), Irons (Armstrong 81), Schofield, Booth, Knight. Subs not used: Senior, Clarke, Macari.

Bookings: Forster (Reading).
Referee: E K Wolstenholme (Blackburn)

We are top of the league! We may not be there for long with Stoke playing again tomorrow but who cares! This was a moment to savour. Today the Royals, roared on by a huge contingent of travelling fans, completely dominated a team on the fringe of the play off positions on their own ground. It was the home side's first defeat in almost three months.

I was able to work out during the warm up that Murty was not available (apparently he has 'flu) but had to wait for the kick off to find out the team because the public address system was completely inaudible at the away fans end of the stadium. When the teams lined up I was feeling slightly apprehensive. Hughes was moved to right back, and the midfield, with the exception of Parky, looked a bit lightweight. But this is a squad full of confidence and desire and it seems that any eleven from our depleted numbers will go out and give a good account of themselves.

I can still only marvel at the transformation of Rougier. He was outstanding again today. His partnership with Forster is at present a nightmare for opposing defences. Rougier pressurised the Town defence constantly. He is won the ball in the air, received long balls, held the ball when required and laid off good simple passes. He took players on and created chances. All this made life much easier for our back four and midfield because the game was mainly played in their opponents half.

Forster got the goal and took it well. He ran onto a poor defensive header and lifted the ball over the keeper. Two minutes later he wriggled past two Town defenders and was felled in the box by a third. He had broken through with the ball but went down well past the last man. It was a clear penalty but in keeping with his performance throughout the afternoon gave the benefit of the doubt to the home side. Having made the wrong decision he went for broke and booked an astonished Forster! The decision probably went against Fozzy because he stayed on his feet too long! He certainly had nothing to gain by going down because he was completely clear of the defence. In the end it didn't matter - it only added to the satisfaction of victory.

The first half was completely one-sided with Forster and Parkinson failing to convert good chances. Town were restricted to a couple of half chances with Reading enjoying most of the possession because they were quicker to the ball and passed the ball better. Hughes hit his first pass into touch when he had plenty of time and space and then settled down to play a very solid game defensively. It is great to see him improving and learn that he can provide cover for Murty when required. I was also pleased to see Gamble start although he took a while to settle. He has tremendous potential as a creative midfield player. The second half was again mainly Reading with a couple of late scares. Mackie and Williams did their stuff well again today which was no mean feat. Andy Booth is a very good player - particularly in the air.

Driving away from the ground I picked up the radio match reports. The BBC match reporter was luke warm about Reading's performance, criticising them for not killing the game off and implied that stronger opposition would not have let the points slip. Great! Let everyone think that. As far as I'm concerned the team that creates the most chances usually wins, and as long as we continue to play as we did today we will be in Division One next season. I thought the Huddersfield fan on the local radio phone-in programme picked up the main point. "Reading were first to every ball in midfield and were winning most of the 50-50s"

" We are going up!" sang the jubilant Royals fans after the final whistle and the team came over and joined in with the singing. The fans are beginning to believe it and most important of all I sense the players are too. I'm not going to tempt fate by making any predictions. I want it to happen too much to do that!

Report by John Wells

Post Match Opinions

Its a long way to Huddersfield from Worthing, but when you pick up three points, the traffic behaves, and Brighton lose 3-0 at Wigan, the journey home is a total pleasure. Good all round performance today. Rougier is playing the best I've seen him, Hahneman is powerful, self confident, and a great influence, and Hughes, while not looking as good as Murts going forward, is comfortable at right back. Centre backs look solid, and midfield, whilst a bit deep sometimes, looked creative. Fozzy's goal well taken, and Shorey getting even better. How Huddersfield missed their open goal with seconds left, I really dont know. I dont really care either. Needed a long sleep after a long day, but with Stoke slipping up at Northampton, I might just go and rub a few Brighton and Hove noses in it at the pub tonight. Bring on Blackpool!
-- Kevin, Worthing Royal.

Staying in York with relatives over the week-end, so had a great opportunity to see Reading away... and hopefully go top of the league. Reading were clearly the better team, and while Rougier and Foster worked non-stop I think the midfield deserves a mention, especially Parkinson and Gamble. The work rate and commitment was terrrific from those players. There was one bloke in the away end giving Sammy Igoe loads of stick in the first half, and I've got to say the right hand side of team (i.e Igoe and Hughes), looked suspect first half, and if we were to concede then that was where it would happen. In any case Igoe seemed to have bucked his ideas up second half. Huddersfield didn't pose a threat, and Nicky got a goal and should have had a penalty decision! Great away support, a quiet home bunch, 3 points, and as I write this Stoke have drawn... what more can you say. We've just got to make sure our home form is as outstanding as our away form... My man of the match: Mr Gamble... play him every week I say.
-- Nigel (Chippenham Royal).

Fantastic travelling support matched by an immense second half onslaught by the R's. Huddersfield had to buckle under the pressure eventually. Very impressed with Forster, Rougier and Salako in the 2nd half - but some concern that it required an atrocious backward header fro Andy Booth to set up our goal. We had many opportunities to score nad really should have won by 2 or 3! Hahnemann looks safe as houses and gathered crosses well and inspires confidence in the defence. Sadly the ref was poor and the booking of Forster will surely be overturned (fortunately we did not need another goal (except to let me win my 2-0 correct score bet!)). A great day and hopefully we can continue the form of 2002, 4 wins and no goals conceeded. Finally any chance of some new chants? Come on you Rs
-- Tom, Edinburgh

Great performance, and a well deserved win for Reading. Having now watched us at both Wrexham and Hudds in the last couple of weeks I have to start believing that this is a Reading side that can comfortably gain promotion automatically. One slight and it is slight criticism is that we didn't kill of the opposition, which left a few anxious moment towards the end of the game. Rougier looks good and you cant fault the man for effort and skill, however is he playing in the right position, the guy is not a natural goal scorer. would he not be better playing in another position, maybe wide of midfield? Which begs the question why is Curo on the bench? Is it attitude? The two chances that went begging in the first half would have been tucked away if they had fallen to Jamie. However I'm not the manager and I'm sure that the management team has a bit of a clue as to what's happening, but if I was manager for the day I would have bought curo on for the last twenty minutes as I am sure that our breaks into the box would have gained more reward had a natural finisher been lurking.
Can't be too critical though as to travel to promotion hopefuls and sleeping giants such as Huddersfield and almost completely play them of the park has to be a god sign of the potential of RFC. lets not forget that this would have been a second choice team last year and I have to say that the players in the team (curo apart) have a far better chance of gaining promotion. A word for hughsey, crap on the wing, can't cross, however when he came on for Harper at Wrexham he looked good in the centre of midfield and again via commentary on Classic gold he sounded like he had a good game against QPR,HA, HA,HA,HA, HA. He also he performed adequately at left back on saturday, so lets get of the guys back, he obviously wears his heart on his sleeves for the Royals and is proving to be a great utility player for us.
One final word, far be it my intention to criticise referees, however I have to administer a profound wanker insult for the Forster Penalty claim. Definite penalty, and there is no bias to attached to that statement, I would be the first to criticise a player for diving, after all that's cheating. However Forster was clearly hacked down, he had beaten the last defender and had a clear run on goal, I was up and celebrating the resulting penalty which I was sure that was to follow, however I was totally baffled when the ref, after appearing to point to the spot then changed his mind and awarded a free kick the other way. just to add insult to injury he then booked Forster for what we must assume he considered ungentlemanley behaviour. Therefor I have to extend the wanker of the day award to the Ref, whom was also inconsitant with desicions for both teams throuhout the match. time to sign of before I waffle drunkenly into the nigth, it was my Birthday friday and I cant think of a better present than being top of the leauge and thanks to Northampton that privalige will extend at least until next Saturday.
On a final note come on URZ, its time to start believing, see you all at Wigan where I predict another win for the Royals.

-- Paul Holton (Rochdale)
P.S Im going to Spotland on saturday with another northern Royal to Cheer on the Dale against Poxford, wouldn't that be the icing on the cake?

Another tremendous performance by The Royals today. The whole team are so up for it at present and look like a team that knows they can beat anybody. I'm convinced that Pardew is using a tactic - (a step in the right direction for AP) He is getting the players to give their absolute all from the kick off. This in turn gets the fans going and a great atmosphere was created at The Mcalpine (Only in the away end I might add).
Every player in every position had a good game, but for me the aging Philip Parkinson was absolutely outstanding. Almsot everything he did on the pitch today whether it be a defensive header, a tackle, a simple pass or an encouraging shout at a team mate was high quality. I think we have to be careful not to get too carried away with our form. I have been royally entertained (pardon the pun) in the last two matches but before that this season I couldn't tell you of 1 other game I have really enjoyed - Bury, Chesterfield,,Brentford, Cardiff and of course Swindon were all woeful performances by roughly the same players.
The positives - The whole team looks balanced (This is a shame for Jamie but for the good of the team he'll have to accept it for now) Rougier is looking like a good player (Again, though he isn't that good and can't score for toffee, so let's put it in perspective) Forster is looking very sharp (If he could score more than 1 out of 5 or 6 chances a game we'd be happier) We are top of the league in January rather than October last season. We only need to win 11 of our remaining fixtures and The Royals could be going up! The support was electric at H'Field - Let's keep it going home and away and we will play a MAJOR part in our teams belief and ultimate success in 2002.

-- Dean - Crowthorne Royal

The last time I wrote an opinion was after we were outclassed buy Brentford and although I was not one of the many who wanted Pardew's head, I did question whether he had what it takes to turn things around. Well, 3 months on a couple of decent loan signings a rejuvenated Rougier, Hughes and Forster a solid back 4 and I'm more than happy to eat humble pie, well done Pards and the boys at last we do look genuine promotion candidates keep it up.
-- Woodley Royal

Couldn't make the game but listened to the excellent coverage on Radio Berkshire. Sounded a really impressive performance backed up by a report on the Huddersfield web site which was very complimentary to the Royals.What a weekend of result , we really are back in the driving seat now and our destiny lies totally in our hands. Full credit to Pardew the players and the quiet modest Kevin Dillon who I believe may be one of the reasons for our recent transformation. Keep it going lads... please!
-- Nick Newbury

It was a frustrating afternoon listening to the radio until the deadlock was broken in the 56th minute by Forster. Up until then it sounded as if Reading were keeping up the neat accurate football and approach play of late and had the game by the scruff of the neck without being able to force home the advantage. The commentary was impressive and compulsive listening, but there was that nagging doubt that the break through would not come in spite of so much domination as in the Rangers match. Despite the odd shaky defensive moment when Huddersfield appeared to go close against the run of play, it sounded like another match where Reading deserved to win by more than the single goal. A great result however, even if the second half seemed to drag on after the Royals went 1-0 up, I almost died when knight according to the commentator beat six Reading players only to hit the ball straight at Hanamann just before the final whistle. Listening for the last half an hour would have been easier if the Royals had made the game safe with a second goal, it will be interesting to see the Forster booking which most seem to have called a penalty including Fozzy in the post match interview. Well despite the fact that goals still seem hard to come by for Reading at the moment the run continues and Reading seem to be as the manager has said a completely different side. Encouragingly they have achieved the recent success playing some creative football proliferated with accurate neat passing which is enabling us to keep possession and dominate opponents, easing the pressure on defence and controlling the game in midfield. There is a definite change about Reading which can only be put down to the new partnership between Pardew and Dillion and they must also be growing in confidence. It maybe a little premature to get too excited, but the Royals for the first time seem to be playing entertaining football consistently and it can only be a matter of time before we give someone a good thrashing, as our forwards must be itching to increase the goal tally. The next big hurdle will be Wigan and although Blackpool would not seem to be a threat, as we have already beaten them once this season, we must not get complacent. It was good that Gamble got his chance today in this important fixture and the experience can only give him confidence, from which hopefully he will grow in stature and become a more regular first team choice. Everything seems to be going Pardews way and JM must feel that he has done the right thing by sticking by his man. Pardew will be a better manager for experiencing the trials and tribulations earlier this season and the players I feel have given their own vote of confidence in the management by their recent performance on the field. Reading seem to be a team now playing with self belief and without pressure and most importantly you feel that there is a new team spirit which has bonded them into a more close knit unit, which most opponents will find hard to break down and open up. Lets hope this continues to grow, great result lads.
-- Paul Finch

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