READING 2 MILLWALL 0
|Scorers: Parkinson, Forster
|Date: 12 February 2000
|Team: Howie, Gurney (Bernal), Primus (Gray), Hunter, Robinson, Grant, Parkinson, Caskey, Hodges (Smith), Butler, Forster.
Match Hero: Forster
Reading's recent run of increasingly impressive results continued at the Madejski Stadium, as Millwall were comfortably beaten by a determined Reading side. Before kick-off the Madejski was back to life with the biggest attendance, since the opening day of the season, swinging inflatable Mad Dog bones and bouncing balloons around the stand. Millwall had bought about two thousand fans, and with a Samba band present in the East Stand to wind up the away fans, the stage was set. Unfortunately the band ended up annoying the majority of the home fans before the atmosphere was really allowed to take off in the second half - aided by the band rather than drowning it out. Two second half goals - one from Parkinson and one from Forster, and a string of other chances, was plenty of entertainment for the home fans. More unfortunately, a section of the Millwall fans thought they'd "entertain" themselves outside the ground at the final whistle, by ripping the place to bits and throwing bricks at the home fans leaving the East Stand. All very pathetic and a complete embarrassment to Millwall and their fans. However their rather sad antics don't deserve full description - while Reading's fifth win from seven games certainly does.
Martin Butler, with two goals already for the Royals, was given a warm welcome stepping out to play for the Royals at the Madejski Stadium for the first time. The only change in the starting eleven from the time successful at Blackpool was Hodges stepping in to replace the suspended Jim McIntyre.
The first half was very tight, and very physical. Although Reading had created the best chances, and were playing the better football, it was more of a midfield battle between the two sides - and no surpise to find the score level at 0-0 at half time. Both sides were happy to do all it took to win back possession and the referee was more than happy waving his yellow card around - something that changed drastically in the second half when he seemed to lose his bottle. Millwall could have well ended the game with 10 or 9 men after a couple of challenges by players on yellows going unpunished. Scott Howie, despite one poor clearance which could have been fatal, looked confident and did well to cleanly claim a couple of balls played in the box. Down the other end, Reading's best chance came from a Caskey cross low into the six-yard box. Grant was first on it, but his upwards shot slammed against the bar and bounced outwards rather than inwards. The real story was Parkinson and Grant again working well in a game which Reading might have been muscled out of a few weeks ago. Along with the rest of the side we were determined to get that ball.
The second half saw far more chances at both ends with Reading taking the game to Millwall after the second half kicked off. Forster could have twice given Reading the lead with two great headers that needed saves from the Millwall keeper. Both were crossed from the right, one from Robinson and one from Caskey, to Forster just left of centre - and he did well with both, but not quite well enough. Butler could also have scored after a close range shot at the keeper from the centre of the box was saved and bounced back towards him - but he was unable to make his second chance count. Reading did take the lead on 65 minutes. Caskey supplied Forster with the ball down the right wing, and he got right to the line before crossing the ball low into the box. The ball ran right across the face of goal where Parkinson, well on the way to reclaiming his hero status, slid the ball into the back of the net. 1-0 to the Royals!
Millwall had clearly come for a draw, and after going a goal down started to lay seige to the Reading goal. On paper this should have been a huge worry. Gurney had limped off during the first half to be replaced by Bernal, and Primus had been substituted by Gray. Reading's four man defence was Bernal, Gray, Hunter, and Robinson. With Hunter seemingly playing right back with Robinson just inside him. Had Forster not been so impressive up front Robinson would have won man of the match and Hunter might not have been that far behind. I lost count of the number of perfect last ditch tackles we made inside our own box. Slightly scarey attempting to hold onto a goal lead, but we were doing a great job at the back. After a whole string of Millwall corners, and a great save from Howie getting down quickly to his left from a close range shot, Reading came back into it looking for the second to kill the game off.
Forster almost made it two after cutting towards goal from the right to shoot from an angle. It looked like it was steaming into the top corner of the net with the keeper beaten, but somehow met the angle of the crossbar and post, and again came out the wrong way rather than bouncing in. Forster did get the goal he deserved with less than five minutes left on the clock. He ran an entire half of the pitch beating men as he went. Butler was in the middle to support, but Forster didn't need to use him. After outpacing the last man, the keeper starting coming off his line, and Forster shot low from the edge of the box to send the ball into the bottom right of the net. 2-0, and a fantastic victory against a side hunting promotion.
And so Reading move further away from the relegation zone with Pardew in the hunt for some managerial awards at this rate. The signings of Butler, Robinson, and assistant manager Mad Dog Allen, have transformed the Royals from a losing side into a winning side.
Post Match Opinions
That was by a long way our finest home performance of the season, and
possibly for about two years. We beat impressive opponents in a very intimidatory
atmosphere - generated both by the vocal away supporters and some brutal
tactics by Millwall - and overcame significant adversity in losing key
was better. Guts, determination, flair, pace and class.
Here we go, here we go, here we go, We are staying up.
DONE! to the players, management, chairman, officials, and fans of our
football club. You've have turned a desperate situation in to one of pride,
integrity and determination. Effort, application, skill and courage in
the face of adversity what a performance! The 'Super Royals' are back!
the only ground where I’ve been physically threatened in 38 years of supporting
Reading, the only away ground I ever took my parents to in April 1963
when we were whipped 4-1 and just avoided relegation; Millwall, who destroyed
us 5-0 just that short time ago when a bunch of losers put on Reading
shirts and played without heart. I HATE MILLWALL. But I’m also your typical
fair weather fan - stay away when the play is depressing, come back at
the first hint of hope.
a great performance Let’s hope that the crowd never again boos the team
and this is the start of a great winning run so that someone in the media
might give us some credit some day. However parking still needs to be
addressed and more should be done for season ticket holders regarding
was great to see the fans turn up in force on the back of the excellent
run that the Royals have had, and the boys did not let us down. It reminded
me of the feeling and style we used to see at Elm Park. The game was not
exactly a feast of skill, but the passion on the pitch was transmitted
to the fans and vice versa. In fact in the first half, it seemed more
like a game of heading tennis. However, Forster does not cease to amaze.
Does he aim for the posts? There was one cracker from way out on the right
that would have been an astounding goal if it had been one more inch over.
Birmingham must be wondering why they let him go.
result, and generally a solid performance. Reading seem to have finally
come up with a winning formula. Forster looked good throughout the match,
Butler had one glaring miss, but apart from that looked impressive, Robinson
was caught out once or twice but looked to be an important addition to
both defensive and offensive options. My only gripe with the current formation
is that Caskey seems isolated out on the right. Much of the action occurred
down the left hand side, with Robinson adding extra options, I would like
to see Caskey take up a more central role. Millwall were totally out-classed
and out-fought, and apart from a 15 minute spell midway through the second
half when the team started to seem nervous, the victory was a commanding
one. The Millwall goal keeper was having a nightmare, spilling balls all
over the place, it was nice to see therefore that Howie wasn't following
suit, he came up with one fantastic save in front of the Millwall fans,
and one in front of the north stand where an attempted lob/cross looped
dangerously towards the far corner. All in all a solid performance from
a committed team that deserved a victory.... let's see more of the same
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