(Half Time: 0-2)
Reading Scorers: Forster (30 mins), Cureton (45 mins).
Chesterfield Scorers: -
Date: 16 March 2002
Attendance: 5,145

Reading: Whitehead, Hughes, Mackie, Williams, Shorey, Igoe (Henderson 83), Parkinson, Watson (Harper 73), Salako, Forster, Cureton (Rougier 68). Subs not used: Ashdown, Viveash.

Chesterfield: Abbey, Payne, Breckin, Howson, O'Hare (Rowland 75), Williams (Allott 45), Ebdon, Booty, Innes, Burt, Hurst. Subs not used: Willis, Richmond, Wilding.

Bookings: Booty, Breckin, Howson, Rowland (Chesterfield); Forster (Reading).
Referee: K Hill (Royston)

After a run of three straight league draws we needed a win to keep on track for promotion. With the other sides fighting for a place in the top two having relatively easy games, Reading's trip to Chesterfield looked like a very hard fixture to come away from with three points. However the result never seemed in doubt as Reading outclassed the home side and won the game with two superb first half goals from Nicky Forster and Jamie Cureton. Both goals were fine individual efforts - smashing the ball home from distance and giving the Chesterfield goalkeeper practically no chance of making a save.

This was a great day out with almost nothing to be nervous about after Forster put Reading ahead thirty minutes into the match. The sun shone down on the open away terrace and it really did feel like the Tilehurst end at Elm Park. The away end was full up but the atmosphere was quite quiet - everyone just seemed too relaxed. Sometimes it was easy to forget we're top of the league and fighting for the top spot in the table. The reason it seemed like this was because Reading were so much in control, we were clearly the strongest side out there, and had Chesterfield threatened any more we could have stepped up a gear to put down their uprising.

Reading made a few changes to the starting eleven with Graeme Murty missing Andy Hughes fell back into the right back position. This left room for Kevin Watson to make his debut under a full contract after signing during the week. Watson had a great game in the centre of midfield and played a big part in making things easy for the Royals with his ability to collect the ball and play it to someone in space - regardless of where they were on the pitch. Watson is a quality player, and a superb signing that's going to do wonders for us in Division One next season. Despite Watson's obvious quality the first half was quite a scrappy affair with neither side really creating a huge number of chances. Reading looked the strongest with Parkinson having a solid game alongside Watson.

After a distinct lack of action near the Chesterfield goal Reading suddenly broke the deadlock on the half hour. Nicky Forster did all the work himself with a shot from outside the box just right of centre. The ball flew into the roof of the net, rising over the keeper and keeping just under the crossbar. A great strike and 1-0 to the Royals. Cureton made it two just before the break with a superb effort from the left of goal that flew into the top right corner of the net. Cureton's goal followed up a period of excellent Reading play - keeping the ball on the ground and moving it forward quickly. The goal itself game after the ball was eventually cleared by the Chesterfield defence at the end of the Reading move. Parkinson also had a great first half shot which was tipped over by the keeper. Down the other end Chesterfield nearly pulled one back with a shot that dipped and hit the crossbar when it looked like it was going over.

It was a strange second half to watch with Reading having already done enough for victory during the first half. With the home side two goals down they tried to up the pace of the game in the second half with some quick balls forward and down the wings. They had a long period in the second half with nearly all the possession - but failed to do enough with it. Several times they'd work the ball forward down the wings only for it to run away from them and out of play. The home side were definately working very hard but continually failed to seriously threaten the Reading goal with the final ball always letting them down. The speed of their play got the home fans excited for the first time sensing they might get back into the game, but it didn't last long with Reading willing to let them move forward but always having the extra man in defence to stiffle any serious attacking play.

Reading looked a class above the home side and never seemed to play at full pace and yet took the three points with ease.This was another great day out for the travelling fans with a comfortable, deserved, three points that takes up that step closer to the Championship.

Post Match Opinions

As the pack edge closer so Reading ease open the throttle and pull away again Madjestically.
Phew. That's more like it.
This wasn't a great game to watch with too much scrappy play but Reading controlled it and deservedly won. We took the lead with a rasping shot from just outside the box by Fozzie which went in off the underside of the bar. Then, on the stroke of half-time Cureton confirmed our superiority turning a parry from the goalkeeper into the top corner. The strikes came, mind you, after Chesterfield's pint-sized Jamie Burt had hit the post. I recall watching him playing for Whitby Town against Plymouth Argyle in the FA Cup earlier in the season and here, like there, he was clearly the home-side's best player. He was once a peer of Michael Owen's in an England junior team, you know. This was a day for the diddymen since, along with the scorers, Igoe buzzed around busily up front. Perhaps between them they should have got another goal or two in the second-half.
At the other end of the pitch - and size scale - Whitehead preserved our advantage with several sound saves during a purple patch for Chesterfield in the second half. Saltergate is a decaying, rusting, Elm Park of a ground. The covered terrace opposite the main stand is closed and the club shop is a shed. No mega-store or Jamie Burt bedspreads for sale here. In fact, this is exactly the sort of ground that we don't want to be going to next season. Which, on this evidence, we won't. These were big points.

-- Paul Kirkwood, York.

I had this down as the day we would start to panic. Brentford & Brighton had 'easy' home games whilst we had a tough away fixture at Chesterfield. Thankfully my fears were unfounded as Chesterfield were comfortably swept aside, and Brighton and Brentford only just scraped wins. So it's as we were then, but with another game down I think three wins from six will do it now.
Looking at the run in Brighton have the easiest, whilst Brentford and the Royals have some tough fixtures, but we do have the handy advantage of a six point lead over Brentford. We are talking vintage cock ups now if we are not going to go up now, but I don't know about everyone else, I am still shitting myself. I seem to be spending my whole time working out mathematical scenarios and studying the fixture lists of all the clubs in the top six, I just hope my wife doesn't bugger off with someone not quite as sad as me (It's nearly over darling don't go, everything's going to be okay).
I actually met my wife the day Mark McGhee's team of '94 Reading won division two after beating Brighton of all teams. Wouldn't it be ironic if she left me the day we won the championship again, pipping the same team we beat on that glorious May afternoon eight years ago.

-- Bob Lethaby

Just got back to the seaside, having travelled to Chesterfield, and stayed at a mate's in Reading last night. A great day out, and three points. It still amazes me how even when we are 2 up, and in total control, we somehow manage to panic, and let the opposition back in the game. It was a good job Chesterfield were crap, as otherwise I am sure they would have broken us in the strange period in the middle of the second half. Anyway, thats irrelevant now, as long as we dont play like that for 20 minutes or so in any of our remaining, more difficult away games. Watson was just what the doctor ordered. He looked knackered when he was substituted, but with a week in the camp before Oldham, I believe he will be the midfield calmer that we need for the final push. Isn't it good to see Notts County winning four on the trot, and peaking just as they are due to visit the Withdean? Still think we need another 10 points to be sure, but as said earlier in these opinions, we would need an almighty cock up to fail now. I have to make a mention of the excellent Royal Oak pub, which is about 4 miles from Chesterfield's ground. I've never walked into a pub before to be confronted straight away with whether or not I fancied a shag. At a pound a bottle it was hard to say no. It was of course, bottled lager. Great idea, shame about the quality. Nothing new there!
-- Kevin, Worthing Royal.

Couldn't get to game but live reports from Big Paddy and Bob the Builder reported a comfortable classy performance from the super Royals. Two super goals will make the long trip home so enjoyable. True fans! With all our so called rivals winning at home as expected, the result today will arguably prove to be the day we secured our destiny in this poxy league. Next week is the chance, with us at home and most of the pursuers away, we have a golden opportunity to put so much pressure on the followers that a win against Oldham who were thrashed at home today, would see us nearly home and hosed. Forster back today proved how vital he is to us with his pace putting the fear of god up most defences we encounter. We've now three at home and three away, win our home games we'll get promoted, the championship will be a bonus!
Well done lads, brilliant result, time to crack open a cold can I reckon! URZ!

-- Nick Newbury

My opinion is that it's good to have friends to stay with in Derbyshire, even if they're Chesterfield supporters. Great evening - a couple of pints of Timothy Taylor's, a decent curry, several bottles of Rioja, and still enough change out of a fiver to feed the whippet.
Thought Burt of Chesterfield was their best player - apparently he's been a revelation since they found he was blind as a bat and fitted him with contact lenses. He gave Shorey a fairly difficult time. Glad Chesterfield didn't score early in the second half, they looked the kind of side who might have caused us grief had they got back into the game. Generally, though, we looked a class above the opposition. Cracking goal from Jamie. He remains, like the rest of the weekend, a definite bargain.

-- Hook Royal No. 6

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