Attendance: 11,994
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

Brilliant! 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 defenders.
For much of the match I felt that the home support was, surprisingly in view of recent results, quite tense, and we were all too easily outsung by the Lions fans until we took the lead. To the team's credit, though, they refused to be intimidated and, in a first half very much dominated by the defences, we still had the better of it and were unlucky not to score when Grant's shot cannoned off the crossbar.
The writing on the wall seemed to be very clear when Linvoy Primus failed to come out for the second half - 0-0 would be good result. In a hugely reshuffled back four only Robinson (who had another superb match) had real pace. But the defence held firm, and we fully earned our clean sheet. Hunter did well, but Skippy was outstanding - his best match for at least two years. In attack, Butler took a tremendous buffeting and did great work to create space for Forster, who is flourishing alongside his new strike partner. Fozzy was a bit off in the first half, but sensational in the second half. His goal was the cue for mass ecstasy among the Royals fans - the best moment yet at the MadStad? The future's bright, the future's blue and white.

-- Peter Jones

This was better. Guts, determination, flair, pace and class.
Well let's not get too carried away. Today marked the day when the cobwebs of Burns were finally banished from Reading. Here was a team that played with passion and played some good football. Milwall are a strong, resilient team. They are not a quality football team however. We also showed that we now have, not one but two quality strikers, and if you have that then you are always going to have a chance. credit Pardew for the two excellent recent signings and the chairman for continually backing the club with his wallet. He deserves thanks from all Reading fans. This must have rated as the best game of the season and if you were not there shame on you. the only thing that marred the game was the mindless behaviour of a few Milwall fans, but the others added to the atmosphere. This season may bring very little we will have to see. If it doesn't then just wait till next season, and get and watch them now. They are good, potentially very good if Caskey stays!!!

-- Ken

URZ!!!!!!! Here we go, here we go, here we go, We are staying up.
Mad Dog deserves more than a bone, he has transformed the Royals into a fighting go get them unit, Do we like it? Yes we do The football just gets better and better, what a shame the whole game was ruined by a totally inept referee, How can you have 3 Reading players lying injured in the pitch from bad tackles! and not give a free kick. I hope Millwall miss out on any promotion chance because of their disciplinary record, they were all animals. Anyway back to the Royals, Cheers lads keep it up.
You were all so good I could not pick out 1 man of the match, so it goes to all of you.

-- Pete

WELL 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! WELCOME HOME
-- Terry

Millwall, 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.
Yesterday, I came back.
Who the hell are these guys I saw in hoops yesterday?? They played with self belief, creating one chance after another. Crosses whipped in that had hope, defence that fought for everything, forwards who you believed in. Parkie was Parkie and his goal – great team play. Superb long ball by Caskey, wicked cross by Forster – GOALLLLL!!!!!!!!!! Forster’s goal was sublime, his earlier crack against the bar unbelievable, good enough for the Premier. The guy next to me, who had still been moaning that the side weren’t that good (idiot!) , screaming in hysteria, gesturing wildly at the Millwall fans. Robinson was everywhere, even making the Millwall goalie look an amateur. Turned the corner??? We’re zooming down the runway……but then I have been supporting Reading for 38 years – all we want is just the tiniest hint of hope, (and no more potholes in the runway).

-- Dave Hunt - Bucks Royal.

What 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 this.
We are good enough to cough up good money even when our team often hasn’t performed on the pitch, please give us a better deal on the permits Anyway well done you Royals, Nicky Forster may well be the man of the moment but lets not forget the great defence yesterday and Scott Howie’s brilliant saves.

-- Deborah

It 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.
One fear from the game is injuries . At least two went off injured, and Gray was in absolute agony when he was crunched just after the third substitute had come on.
The drum band sounded fabulous from the West Stand, like a roll of thunder when it started up. However, it seemed a bit lost in trying to accompany crowd chants. The rhythms were great, and perhaps we should try to get the fans onto some latin-american tunes. It would be a superb way of Reading having a unique style, and it would be truly 'just like watching Brazil'.

-- Stuart

Fantastic 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 please.

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