(Half Time: 0-1)
Reading Scorers: Forster (73 mins, 79 mins)
Peterborough Scorers: Gill (29 mins), McKenzie (83 mins)
Date: 13 April 2002

Reading: Whitehead, Murty, Mackie (Williams 16 (Butler 45)), Viveash, Shorey, Hughes, Watson, Parkinson, Salako, Forster, Rougier (Igoe 45). Subs not used: Talia, Cureton.

Peterborough: Steele, Gill (Oldfield 85), Joseph, Edwards, Kimble (Farrell 81), Danielsson, Bullard, Forsyth, Pearce, Fenn (Clarke 81), McKenzie.
Subs not used: Connor, MacDonald.

Bookings: Murty (Reading); Joseph, McKenzie (Peterborough).
Referee: D R Crick (Worcester Park)

Reading need just a point from next Saturday's final showdown against Brentford at Griffin Park. The point would give the Royals second place in the table above Brentford - and automatic promotion to Division One. Reading drew 2-2 at home this afternoon against Peterborough United, while Brentford also failed to win but collected a point against QPR. Reading's 8th draw from nine league games was enough to give Reading the advantage for the trip to Brentford. Although a win would have set us up nicely, today's draw makes no difference to the outcome of the season - although Brighton are now guaranteed the Division Two championship. Everything rests on next Saturday's game, and Reading fans will be hoping for a repeat of today's second half performance rather than the first half. The Royals went in 0-1 down at half-time after a poor 45 minutes in which we managed just a single shot from Nicky Forster that was well over the crossbar. Peterborough took the lead after a mistake from Whitehead when he failed to hold a tame shot, and were well on top. Pardew took drastic measures at half time and made a double subtitution. The changes paid off with Igoe and Butler coming off the bench and having a major impact. Reading pulled level on 73 minutes and then went 2-1 up six minutes later with two goals from Nicky Forster after some great team play. Reading looked set to take the full three points with Forster and Butler linking together up front to nearly produce a third goal. However, the attacking play led to a defensive lapse and Peterborough were able to steal a goal with seven minutes left to play to take a share of the points.   Click to enlarge image

  Click to enlarge image

Following report from John Wells:
So we continue to stumble towards the finishing line - but we are still on our feet and in with a good chance of gaining the automatic promotion we deserve. Next week's final game at Griffin Park could not be more finely balanced. As far as I'm concerned the player who has done the most to put us in contention this season is Nicky Forster. He can be infuriating at times, and his finishing lacks composure, but he has done more than anyone in the squad to unsettle defences and create scoring opportunities. Next to Bobby Zamora, he must be the player the defenders in this division least like to play against. I feel sure we will will need at least one goal next week, and as long as he is in the side, we have a chance of getting one. Today his two vital goals mean that we can go into next week's game knowing the onus is on Brentford to win it.

After a bright start, in which Forster had a goal disallowed for offside, Reading lost their way. A uncharacteristic blunder by Whitehead saw a speculative long range effort give Peterborough the lead after 30 minutes. Only Phil will know how he managed to let the ball slip through his fingers and into the net, and the less said about it the better. He is certainly not a 'dodgy 'keeper' as proclaimed by the Peterborough fans. Reading were not helped by Mackie going off injured after 15 minutes. What was cause for greater concern was the lack of cohesion in the way Reading played. There was so much wrong it his hard to know where to begin, but inaccurate passing was the most obvious flaw. The away side showed how it should be done, stringing together some neat quick passes. Reading simply lost control of the game as Peterborough grew in confidence.

Williams, who had replaced Mackie, received a nasty blow to the head and had to be replaced at half time. Rougier also did not come out for the second half but he is still struggling to find the form that was so impressive during January. The reshuffled team actually looked far more threatening than the original line up. Murty moved into the middle of the defence with Viveash, Hughes dropped into right back, Igoe took over on the right side of midfield, and Butler joined Forster up front.

Gradually Reading built up some momentum, and just as I began to worry about the prospect of an embarrassing defeat, Forster brought the game to life. In a matter of minutes he forced two good saves from Steele, produced a good cross for Butler, and smashed in an equaliser from a quick incisive ball from Igoe. A minute later he skipped past the defence wide on the right and laid the ball invitingly into the path of Butler who should have scored, but with the 'keeper stranded at the near post, he hit the ball feebly at a covering defender. Minutes later another Forster run was halted by a foul and Watson floated the ball in behind the defence. A desperate lunge by a Peterborough defender brought another good save from Steele and then the referee absurdly decided that it was a back pass! As usual the strike on goal was blocked. On 79 minutes a deep cross by Hughes was brilliantly knocked back across the goal by Salako and Forster was there again to put Reading in front with a close range header.

Reading were rampant now with Hughes looking more effective running from deep positions, Murty starting things from the back, Igoe darting about in midfield and Butler looking sharp up front. Surely we would go on and win! It was not to be. You could almost sense the panic exemplified by Parky hoofing the ball into touch. The equaliser came in typically controversial circumstances. Murty was convinced that Clarke handled the ball before crossing for McKenzie to score from close range. What upset me most was the ease in which the defence was beaten with such a simple ball bouncing across the edge of the six yard box. There was no real advantage in winning today but it might have boosted morale a bit. The most worrying outcome of the day was Mackie's injury which could keep him out until next season. We will need to defend resolutely next week and he is without doubt our best defender at present.

No doubt all Royals fans will spend the whole week speculating about what could happen at Brentford. From my point of view the tension is already unbearable - but imagine what it must be like for the players. We should already be up, but this is not the time to agonise over what might have been. We can do that, if we need to, when the season is over. The fans will be behind the team that is for sure. I only hope that Pardew is positive in his selection and, without throwing caution to the wind, we try to win the game.

Post Match Opinions

Forget the crap offside decision that denied us in the first half.
Forget the biggest goalkeeping blunder this year.
Forget the blatant handball by Clarke the linesman didn't see.
Forget the whole of the first half (a waking nightmare)
None of that matters. A win wouldn't have made a blind bit of difference with Brentford also drawing. Salako sounded down on the radio. Butler sounded incredibly upbeat. His energy got us back into it today, he can do it again next week. We go to Brentford with the pressure on them. They HAVE to win. We need to go for the win ourselves. If we don't go for the draw, I can't see us losing. Ask no more questions, all that is needed is blind, loyal noisy support one week today. COME ON URZ!!

-- Paul, Thatcham Royal

To be honest, the result didn't matter. The first 20 minutes were awful, OK Forster put it in the back of the net, but had to be yards offside to do so. And so Peterborough scored. But Phil Whitehead's stop ruined it. Even I could have saved that, and I haven't played for ages. The passing was a bit dire, Kevin Watson's touches were excellent though, the only one who could do anything with the ball, that wasn't punt it up in the air. At half time, I was gutted and horrified by the performance. But Reading's two subs, Sammy Igoe and Martin Butler is the best tactical change Pardew has made all season. Sammy changed the game, with excellent throughballs and crosses at the back. Martin on the other hand offered pace not yet witnessed by peterborough in the game, due to Rougier's stormy runs. Sammy could have got a goal himself, and was unlucky not to. His shot was deflected cleverly by the Peterborough defence. Hughes also seemed more spritely with Sammy nearby, and the face of the game changed. Runs down the right of the pitch troubled the strong Peterborough defence. And if it wasn't for Peterborough's excellent keeper, Reading could have grabbed more than the two they got.
Peterborough were one of the strongest sides I have seen at the Mad Stad this season, and thoroughly deserve the point they got. At half time, I would of taken 2-2 anyday, even if it is a 8th draw in 9 games, as Peterborough looked robust. In a nutshell, the second half was Reading's true colours. The first half was more like Pro Evolution's unique whack-the-ball-up-the-pitch and hope for the best tactic. The game at QPR so I was told by a QPR fan I know was a difficult match. Both sides looked the business in the first half and QPR had several chances to score, but they failed to capitalise on them. The Second half was more Brentford, and Brentford at the very end was very unlucky not to score from McCammon. QPR's defence weakened throughout the match. That leaves it for the final day... personally I think playing Igoe and Butler on this form will win Reading the game. Failing to play them though could see the Royals confined to the Playoffs, which ultimately results to another season in Division 2.

-- Craig, Tilehurst, Reading

I was not at the game, but am sadly sat at my PC in Hong Kong waiting for updates each minute. The way that I see it is that if we can't even beat Oldham, Northampton and Peterborough at home, then what chance would we ever stand against the teams currently in Division 1? I'm just glad that I'm not JM spending loadsa' my money every year on a team that seems destined always to bottle it at the major moments. Saying that, I was born a loyal Royal, and I am sure that I and my kids will die loyal Royals, but come on lads, you have to give something back to the hopeless wasters who spend our lives thousands of miles away each Saturday night sat by their PCs!
-- Tony

A game of two contrasting halves and two contrasting goalies. In the end the result scarcely mattered. Yet again we were treated (if that is the right word) to some magnificent entertainment as we showed what a wonderfully unpredictable side we are. In recent home games we have started well, only to fade as nerves took hold. Today we were like frightened rabbits caught in the glare of a headlight not knowing what to do. Even the crowd were confused. At one time one bloke near me shouted 'Hold it' whilst another one shouted 'Pass it' It was that sort of start. There was no pattern, no coherent play and Peterborough thrived on it. Their goal was as soft as they come. A simple long range shot that just slipped through Whitehead's gloves. In fairness, he has had an excellent season and at least this slip did not really matter (as it turns out). We also lost Mackie in the first half which, with the introduction of Williams left us lacking pace down the middle. The first half was utterly forgettable. Peterborough deserved their lead though I could not see if Forster's earlier strike had been offside.
The second half was a complete transformation and we saw what we had been missing for a long time with the introduction of Martin Butler. This was the Butler of last season, and he showed what an asset he is to this team. People have made some very unfair comments about Pardew lately, but he has also been unlucky with his top pair of Forster and Butler. They would be his first choice to start, but how often has that happened in the last two years? Not only did Butler make an impact but Igoe brought some intelligent play to the right hand side. With Hughes moving to right back, Igoe gave a demonstration of how that side should be worked. I think Hughes has tremendous potential with his energy and his ability to run at people, but he needs to be confident in what he is doing. I felt that he hid a bit today. He looked guilty for their second goal but again I was too far away to see if there was an infringement and Murty certainly felt there was as it is not like him to argue his way into the book. So which Reading will turn up next week? Forster had a brilliant second half, Solako got into good positions though his crossing was not up to his potential standard. If Butler and Igoe are fit enough then they must start. A concern might be at centre half depending on how the injuries are.
We have had a very strange season. At one stage it looked like we had no chance of automatic promotion, at another we looked like champions. What we do know is that we are better away than we are at home. This time next week let's hope the season is over!

-- Ken C

The results today do not mean a great deal as far as promotion is concerned, but the Reading performance today was highly significant. In the first half they were woeful and booed off. So much for all the "positive vibes" Big John wanted before the match! The second half was much better, with Butler and Igoe coming on to make a real difference. It was hardly convincing stuff though, and they were outplayed for a lot of this game by a "pass and move" Peterboro team that were the more attractive team to watch. I still cannot understand why Cureton does not get a game. He is a proven goalscorer at this level and yet Pardew obviously does not rate him. Why is that? Just a draw next week will be enough then. Reading should be able to manage that! Play up The Biscuitmen!!
-- Telford Royal

What a dire first half, playing like that every week we would have been relegated, not trying to gain the second promotion spot. In addition, the loss of Mackie with a suspected broken fibia and torn ligaments is awful news, and means he will struggle to be fit for the start of next season. Replacing Rougier with Butler at half time was made easy by Rougier himself. Why on earth can't he run back into an on-side position like everyone else? His only contribution seems to be to fall over and hope to get a free kick. Replacing Adie Williams with Sammy Igoe was rather forced on Pards as Adie apparently had concussion and was not allowed to restart the second half.
Overall a fair result, and the performances of Butler, Igoe and Forster give hope for next Saturday's clash. As the programme said, only once in our entire history has promotion rested on the final match, and that was 1925/26, when we beat Brentford 7-1 to clinch promtion from Division 3 South. A repeat would be most welcome. Lastly, as Pards said he eased off in the last 5 minutes when he knew the QPR v. Brentford result, I wonder whether he would have done if he had bet Reading finishing champions to win 34,000 like I had.. I must admit 5 weeks ago I was already counting the dosh.

-- Simon

What a day! Where do you start? Without wishing to appear a smart arse I bolding predicted weeks ago that this was always going to go right down to the last game, and so it will be. I'll even go as far I saying this will go down to the last kick... bloody hope not!
As others have said even if we had of won, it wouldn't have mattered a toss with the Brentford result. The main thing is we go there on Saturday with that precious " Tranmere" point ahead of them with the draw or a win meaning we avoid the doomsday scenario of possibly playing Cardiff in Cardiff, god help who ever has that pleasure! Total respect to John Madejski for taking his seat with the fans for the game . The man's becoming a legend as far as I'm concerned for what he's done for this club and I just hope he gets like all of us our just rewards . There's not much point discussing yesterdays performance apart from the fact we were transformed in the second half following the departure of the lazy git Rougier. His first half performance was a disgrace and he should off loaded as soon as possible. I'm sorry to say Hughes also should be on the same boat, as he's proving a liability rather than an asset.
As soon as Igoe and Butler started making runs up front we were a different team, and this bodes well for next week. Butler will be our saviour at Brentford providing Pardew plays him. I think it's dangerous going for the draw, although having drawn an unbelievable eight out of the last nine and now only having been beaten once in twenty four games, the odds must be well in out favour. If it was me, and of course I know nothing... I'd play Whitehead, Murty, Williams, Viveash, Shorey, Solako, Watson, Igoe, Cureton, Forster and Butler. Let's take the game to them. We've enough firepower up front that would put the fear of god up most teams. If we get an early goal we should be ok, my worry is the defence has started letting in goals that a Sunday pub team would be ashamed of. If we sit back next week we'll be stuffed. Lets go for it from the start like at Bristol City.
Finally, I'd like to defend free speech. Hob Nob has become a benchmark for other fans web sites and this Opinion section has grown into something very special . For those that can't read it's titled OPINIONS! I welcome all views and me and the lads always discuss them after games with much amusement and more than often agreement. I do though take great offence at patronising so called fans who creep out of the woodwork and question my and others loyalty to this club. How dare they! If they can take the time to look at past reports where the team have performed to their capabilities they will see glowing reports.
They will also see the fans ALWAYS praised to the hilt for their dedication and magnificent support of a football club that would drive most sane men to drink! When you start going to Bury or Oldham on a freezing wet cold Tuesday night and buy a season ticket, then you may have the right to call yourself a true fan!
See you all at Brentford, we can, we will.... UUU F'ING RRRZZZZZ!

-- Nick Newbury

Well, anyone would have to admit that the first half was absolutely terrible from Reading's point of view. Like Alan Pardew said, we were too spread out letting Peterborough get through. I think Pardew was right with the decision he made at half time to bring off Rouge and put on Butler. I think Butts did amazingly well since thats the longest hes played since his injury. And Sammy did great too swinging in some good crosses. I think that out second half perfomance shows what we can do and that was easily of division 1 standard. Lets just hope we get there this season! URZ!
-- Tim, Reading

The earler comments are absolutely right - the result yesterday didn't make any difference to what we need to do at Brentford. Please spare a thought though, for a poor exiled Royal, living in Sussex. If I've been told once that Brighton are far better than Reading, having spent a fraction of the money, I have heard it a thousand times. My defences are running out, and try as I may not to, I bite at every pathetic snide remark. Couldn't face the Zamora parties last night, so stayed in Reading, and went to the London Irish match today. Guess what. It ended in a draw 18 all! The Mad Stad just does not want to host a win for anyone at the moment. So whilst I agree that we can still do it, 3 points yesterday would have kept the seagulls quiet if only for one more week. We must play for a win next week. I am worried that Pards may try and shut the game down, and play for a point. Having said that, we are pretty good at getting one point a game. URZ!
-- Kevin, Worthing Royal.

Like most other HNA readers I have supported Reading since a boy. I first went to Elm Park as a 10 year old Man. Utd supporter with my big brother. I watched Reading beat Rotherham 1-0 in the league cup and I was bought. I went home and dumped all my Man Utd stickers and posters in the bin and became a Royal. I have stood on the pissed stained steps of the South Bank and watched Ollie Kearns, Pat Earls, Stuart Beavon, Terry Hurlock, Martin Hicks, Neil Webb, Kerry Dixon, Keith Curle Jimmy Quinn, Micky Gooding the late Dean Horrix and the clumsy but prolific Trevor Senior to name but a few. All these players plus others have at times been heroes for the club and in many cases their genuine commitment made up for lack of class.
In my opinion this Reading side possesses some of the most talented seen at club, but for some reason the desire has been missing and I can only look at the manager. Pardew has been handed enviable finances by Mr Majdeski and has admittedly bought well, Butler, Forster, Cureton, Watson and Igoe are playing a league below what they are capable of, so it must be a negative mental attitude the manager installs in his players that is threatening to ruin our season for the second year running. I am saddened to say that If Peter Taylor or Steve Coppell had had the players and finances at their disposal that Pardew has had then we would have been promoted in March.
Yesterday's first half performance was an embarrassment to all associated with the Royals yet a stirring second half performance showed what they are capable of. This was mainly due to the withdrawal of the gutless Rougier and the introduction of the skilful Igoe and the battling Butler. Since the move to the new stadium this club has made has gone forward in several ways. We are along with Stoke the best supported team in the league with an average of 13500 fans and several gates over 15000, we have facilities, finances and players that are the envy of the likes of Peterborough, and we have a chairman who has never failed in business and is determined to get it right. So stand up Mr Pardew and ask your players to express themselves at Brentford and search for the heroes inside themselves. Otherwise your days will be numbered.

-- Bob Lethaby

OK, OK enough whingeing. We may all have another crap week of tension ahead of us waiting for When Saturday Comes, but for those of us 'lucky' enough to have a Brentford ticket somehow we've got to get ourselves into a really positive mind set for next Saturday. Most of us will be too nervous on the day to even be able to talk, let alone sing and shout, but we've all got to find the self belief that we've lost and just shout and scream and sing ourselves hoarse for URZ. At Tranmere when we fell behind we went very quiet - if we go down at Griffin Park we've got to turn the volume UP even louder! We've got to transmit that confidence and self belief to the players, and if we do at long last we will get out of this wretched division for once and for all. Come on URZ - WE CAN DO IT!
-- Simon Curtis

I agree 110% with Nick, the whole reason this site is so popular is that the majority of the comments are made by true supporters whose primary concern is the club and it's success. Any LOYAL supporter is entitled to tell it like it is, when it's good say it's good but when it is sh*te, let 'em know, as long as the critism is constructive where's the harm in that. However this week is too important to get into a another Pardew character assassination as only one thing matters. True we have blown a monumental lead at the top of the league, allowed a third rate team to take the title and given all anti-Royals fans enough ammunition to give Sadman Hussain a run for his money but I am at the stage where for the next few days I don't care and I don't care how we get it, who gets it and where they get it from just as long as we get that one point by 4.50 on the 20th April, forget Tenacity, Spirit and Flair, we can Timewaste, Spoil and F*cking cheat for all I care, just get out of this donkey division without having to go anywhere near the Severn Bridge! But you've got to be confident, as apart from the minor blip of a 2-0 victory at Chesterfield that is something we have managed to do every game since the 2nd March ! Losing Mackie is a big blow, but Butler's back and raring and going into the game I would rather be a Royal than a Bee, hey I'd rather be a Royal than anything else and that is the point, we are all Reading 'til we die....I have a vision, with the score at 3-2 to Brentford with the ninety minutes up Pardew makes his most controversial substitution of the season, bringing himself on for Forster, 30 secs later, Salako swings in a cross and 'like a salmon' Pardew leaps and buries the ball in a carbon copy of his Palace semi final goal v Liverpool of 1990 and we are in divison 1. It's just a feeling but have the last 6-7 weeks finally taken their toll on my mental health.....URZZZ
-- Darren Hall

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