(Half Time: 0-0)
Reading Scorers: Butler (59 mins), Viveash (72 mins).
Wycombe Scorers: -
Date: 14 October 2000
Attendance: 15,443

Reading: Whitehead, Gurney (Robinson, 45), Viveash, Williams, Newman, Parkinson, Caskey, Jones, Butler, McIntyre (Igoe, 87), Hodges (Smith, 79).
Subs not used: Howie, Mackie.

Wycombe Wanderers: Taylor, Rogers, Vinnicombe, McCarthy, Bates, Castledine (Ryan, 68), Simpson, Brown, Harkin (Senda, 50), McSporran, Rammell.
Subs not used: Cousins, Lee, Brady.

Bookings: Newman (Reading); Brown, McCarthy, Vinnicombe (Wycombe).
Sent Off: Brown (Wycombe, 64 minutes)

Reading continued their superb home form by making it four straight home wins against a Wycombe Wanderers side who had been a place above the Royals before kick-off. After three high scoring home wins Reading attracted the Division's highest crowd of the season - 15,443 to watch two of the Division's most in form sides. The home fans weren't to be disappointed - after a tight first half Reading finally made their superiority count in the second half to score two goals to jump above Wycombe to second place in the table. Reading looked good right from kick-off and after a physical 90 minutes were deserving winners.

Reading stuck with the side that had come away from Wigan with a point last Friday - Jimmy McIntyre starting up front in place of the suspended Jamie Cureton. On the bench Reading welcomed back both Robinson and Igoe from injury.

Just a few minutes into the match and Reading could have taken the lead - Hodges played a superb ball down the left for McIntyre to run onto. McIntyre got hold of the ball and crossed. For a moment it look like his cross was too far back - missing Martin Butler in the middle who had drawn three defenders to himself - however, in came Caskey. Unfortunately it wasn't on target as Caskey's header flew wide to the left. With fans still pouring in late in the North Stand thanks to huge traffic and ticket queues, Reading continued to pile on the pressure looking for an early goal.

However, Wycombe looked ready to battle out a draw by keeping it all very tight. It wasn't until the second half that the referee finally decided to get his cards out and penalise some very hard tackling flying in from both sides - particually Wycombe. With the first half being very physical it never really got going into the most entertaining half - but it was certainly fast and frantic when the ball was in play. Unfortunately play was held up far too often for treatment to players. Reading were winning the battle for possession but found it hard to get in many shots on target. We were creating plenty of play down the right - Gurney was playing hard, but his crosses didn't always find targets. Reading had another great chance from nothing as Hodges fired in a long range shot - central but well outside the area. The Wycombe keeper had to get down quickly to his right to tip it wide.

Wycombe only managed one real shot on target during the entire first half, which was no real suprise playing as deep as they were. But the visitors could have gone in ahead at the break after the ball bounced off Viveash's leg in the middle of the Reading area. The ball fell into the path of the Wycombe striker but as he was about to shoot for a certain goal Viveash was there with the tackle of the match to send the ball away to safety. The Wycombe forward had had a spare player to his left which he probably should have put to some use.

Robinson came on for Gurney at the break and the second half continued much as the first with Reading enjoying the greater possession and always looking the most likely, despite creating a lot fewer chances than in previous home matches. With Reading's midfield looking the strongest with Jones and Parky winning all kinds of tackles all over the pitch we continued to look the most likely side.

On the hour Butler broke into the box to play it to Jones. Jones knocked it back to Butler just inside the box, just right of centre, and Butler fired it into the top left corner. 1-0 to the Royals and it only looked like there could be one result from then on. A few minutes later and Wycombe's frustration was clear. As Reading looked for the second we won a free kick right on the edge of the box as Caskey was brought down, all of a sudden Butler went flying to the floor from the edge of the defensive wall after being punched over. A red card for Wycombe's Brown and more reason for Reading fans to celebrate. The resulting free kick from Caskey wasn't his best - easily saved by the Wycombe keeper.

On 72 minutes a Caskey free kick was knocked on inside the area. Viveash latched onto it and pulled it away from the keeper who was coming out to collect. Viveash has ended up well wide on the left almost on the line - but his shot was spot on - into the back of the net from a very tight angle - 2-0 to the Royals. Wycombe managed a clearly off-side goal minutes later, but Reading made up for it with an offside goal of their own before the end when Igoe ran onto a ball through the defense. Reading could have had a penalty after McIntyre was clearly held back inside the box, and down the other end Wycombe thought they had had one when the referee ignored the linesma's flag. The rest of the game Reading started to relax and play the ball around across the team with Wycombe well beaten.

So it wasn't a goal feast like some of the more recent games - but it was never going to be. It was just the result we needed against a side above us in the table. Before this match Wycombe had only conceeded two goals away from home all season, and it was easy to see why. They might have sneaked away with a draw but Reading battled hard for the full three points - if we keep this up then we really are going up.

Following report by Neil Cole:

This was another tough game for the Royals, but once again they responded brilliantly and came away with another deserved three points. This was a similar game to Wigan last week, in that it was all about the strength of the midfield and not the class of our attack. The Reading management had obviously done their homework on the Wycombe side, and by playing Jones and Parkinson together in the centre of midfield we were able to dominate in the middle and remove any threat Wycombe had.

The Reading fans responded brilliantly to our great recent form, as the attendance broke the 15,000 mark for the first time in a long while. Wycombe also had a good turnout, with around 3000 travelling to see their side who were in the dizzy heights of third before today’s game. The East Stand was inevitably sold out, encouraging many Royals fans to migrate to the North Stand. It was a pleasure to see the North so packed, as so often in the past it has looked deserted as everyone sits in the East. The large attendance meant that there was actually atmosphere around three quarters of the ground, something we are not used to hearing in the Madejski.

The atmosphere was helped even further by the re-appearance of the Beard Band in the North-East corner of the ground. For once it was pleasure to hear a band which actually knows how to entertain the fans, as opposed to the club’s hired band which has been awful all season.

Alan Pardew started the game with the same team that had come away from Wigan with a well earned point. Jamie Cureton was suspended after picking up five bookings, leaving Jim McIntyre to continue up front with Martin Butler. Andy Gurney was at left back once again, but it was great to see Matt Robinson return from injury to make the bench. Tuesday night’s game against Wrexham could well see the return of Robinson to the first team, as despite Gurney’s improved showings recently Robinson is clearly the better player. There was also a welcome return for Sammy Igoe, who has made a very quick recovery from his injury and was also on the bench today.

The game was very different from recent home performances, as the strong midfield battle meant the game was far from pretty. There were very few real chances created for either side, especially in the first half when neither side was able to have any advantage.

This changed in the second half though, as Reading gradually became the stronger team and went looking for the vital first goal. The Wycombe players started to tire, and Jones and Parky were winning everything in the second half. The defence looked assured throughout the match, as Williams and Viveash produced probably their best display at the back yet. It is good to see centre backs who are always looking to create opportunities and get forward when necessary.

The breakthrough came on 59 minutes, as some good interplay between Jones and Butler allowed Butler the room to fire home his 9th of the season. He is now the league’s joint top scorer, with Notts County’s Stallard and our own Jamie Cureton. After we had scored one, Wycombe all but disappeared from the game and Reading pressed forward for more goals. Five minutes after the goal, it all got too much for Wycombe’s Brown. After fouling Caskey to give away a free-kick, as the players jostled for position he clearly elbowed Phil Parkinson. The ref spotted it and immediately sent Brown off, reducing Wanderers’ chances even further.

Shortly after the red card incident, Reading made it 2-0 to secure another important win. A Caskey free-kick found Adi Viveash at the far post, who took it past the keeper and shot from a tight angle. Viveash had his first Royals goal, and Reading had their fourth consecutive home win.

It’s now just one defeat in 23 at home for Reading, and in addition we are the league’s highest scorers and are top of the form table. It was two points dropped for Walsall as they drew at home to Bristol City, allowing us to close the gap to four points. More good news, as a defeat for Bury meant we move up to second in the league. We’ve done brilliantly to get into the promotion places this early in the season, and now we must ensure we stay there. Three points on Tuesday against Wrexham are a must, and then it’s Bristol City away in a game which could theoretically see us go top.

Post Match Opinions

A tight match and an interesting battle between the best strike force in the division and the (probably) tightest defence. Wycombe set out to be physical and a stalemate was the result in the first half. The introduction of Robinson at the start of the second half opened things up and his introduction almost bought an immediate impact.
The match was scrappy with plenty of needle - with Wycombe trying to spoil the Mad Stad party. The Ref did not help and Brown should have gone a lot earlier than he did. Despite Wycombe's attempt to spoil Reading's play by keeping the ball in the air half the time Reading's quality paid off.
Though the score was 0-0 at half time the score board reported 5 Reading shots to Wycombe's lowly 1. I hate to say it but Wycombe do look like a well organised outfit with pacey front runners, but lacked Reading's quality.
All the same teams with a mean defence will always do well and though Wycombe have only scored 13 goals so far this season I can see them nicking goals without conceding and will be there or thereabouts come May. That said it showed what an important victory this was and the only downer was Millwall's victory which means that the Fat man's team are closing in with 2 games in hand, the defeat on the first day of the season could prove very decisive.

-- Mark - London

So much for Sanchez pre match boast about his sides attacking flair. They came for a draw and the Royals can take credit for showing patiance and resolve for digging out the win they deserved. Pardew must take a lot of credit for the players he's brought to the club as yet you couldn't critisize any of his signings, just imagine the sort of team we could have if he'd been given the millions that Burns tossed away!
Same again Tuesday please.

-- Robin Royal

What a cracking professional performance. It was never going to be another goal feast playing the best defence in the league. What was so pleasing was the way the Royals yet again played so well as a team creating lots of good chances. Butler goes from strength to strength , Viveash and Adie look quality at the back and the inclusion of Keith Jones in midfield has added some much needed class. I thought he was outstanding yesterday. There was a real buzz in the ground and the roar when the first goal went in was one of the loudest heard at the Mad House. Bring on Wrexham then a massive turnout at Britsol City to look forward to........the good times are well and truly back!
-- Nick

Credit where credit is due, but I must admit Jimmy McIntyre has improved no end recently... Last season I was desperate to see the back of him along with the piles of dead wood Tommy Burns bought in, I remember McIntyre being roundly booed even when his name was read out over the tannoy before games had even started! However I thought he played exceptionally well at the Wycombe game, and admit to being disappointed that he didn't get more of an honourable mention in your match reports, wow, how times have changed! He won so many headers and flick-ons and even showed some nice skill with little through balls and I'm sure I saw a handy back heel or two. His crossing has also improved and it is a real shame that he still seems to find it easier to miss an open goal than to score but I'm sure with the good send off he received when he was substituted his confidence should be boosted further.
Overall it was a good battling display and a great win when you consider that the main 'flair' players like Igoe, Rougier, and Cureton were all absent from the starting line-up for various reasons. However I am a bit concerned about Newman, I thought he had a very poor game and I would like to see him and Gurney out of the main squad as they seem to be the weak links in what is actually becoming a really strong squad of players.

-- Steve

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