MATCH REPORT: 2003/2004 Season

Reading: Sidwell (49 mins), Murray (59 mins), Goater (79 mins).
Nottingham Forest:
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 16,833

DIVISION ONE  16 Aug 2003
Pos Team P Pts GD
3 Crystal Pal 2 6 2
4 READING 2 4 3
5 Walsall 2 4 3
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Brown, Williams, Murray, Hughes, Sidwell, Salako (Watson 27), Forster, Goater. Subs not used: Ashdown, Mackie, Butler, Newman.
Nottingham Forest:
Ward, Louis-Jean, Morgan, Walker, Thompson, Stewart, Gunnarsson (Williams 76), Jess, Reid, Johnson, Harewood. Subs not used: Roche, Sonner, Dawson, Doig.
Reading: Williams.
Nottingham Forest:
Referee: R Olivier (Sutton Coldfield)

What more could you ask for? The opening home game of a new season which produced a convincing victory over a team tipped to be strong contenders for promotion, and home debut goals for the Royals two new signings. Forest created chances in the first half with some neat and incisive attacking play but were eventually completely outplayed by a Reading side full of confidence, pace, and skill.

In the opening minutes Reading were probing, but promising moves were breaking down on the edge of the Forest area often due to some thoughtless play from Forster. It was Forster however created enough space for himself to work a shooting opportunity but his miscued left foot shot came to nothing. On ten minutes Reid found himself completely in clear on the edge of the area but his shot was also tame and was easily gathered by Hahnemann. Murray was looking sharp playing wide on the right but when Williams picked him out with a fine long diagonal pass he ballooned his shot high and wide after neatly beating his marker. Reading continued to create half chances but Johnson was causing problems for Reading with his pace and trickery. It was one of his runs which ended with Reid clear on goal, but Hahnemann came out and managed to prevent the Forest forward from scoring.

For me the turning point in the game came when Pardew substituted Salako with Watson. From that point in the game Reading took complete control of midfield. Watson produced a range of superb passes. Short passes to retain possession or to slow the game down, and both short and long passes which opened up the Forest defence. Tactically the substitution was brilliant because it also released Sidwell into a more attacking role to support Forster, and Goater, who was having little impact. Hughes for once did not look out of place wide on the left and strenghtened the left flank with his tireless running.

Almost immediately Watson dropped the ball into the Forest area and the referee gave a penalty for the contact the 'keeper made on Sidwell. Shorey restored a sense of justice to those who felt the decision was harsh by hitting the penalty at a nice height and pace for Ward to save.

Reading dominated the second half and deservedly took the lead when Sidwell volleyed powerfully home from the edge of the box direct from a beautifully flighted corner. The ball took a slight deflection but Ward had little hope of keeping it out. Forster was continuing to unsettle the Forest defence with his direct running and Goater was gradually getting more involved with the build up. On sixty minutes Murray controlled a superb long pass from Watson, ran into the area, and drilled the ball into the net. His joy was evident in the celebration which I thought might have brought a booking. The referee used some common sense instead of his card. From that point Forest heads really dropped and "The Goat" rounded off the scoring with a goal laid on by Forster. It was a goal which proved that you don't always have to strike the ball well to score and that Nicky Forster can pass the ball well when he wants to!

I'm trying hard not to get too excited about promotion too soon, but Reading looked very good today. I felt that our inability to score prevented us from going up last year but at the moment that problem seems to have been eradicated.
John Wells

Following report by John Lambourne
I have just seen one of Reading's best ever performances. Reading could have been three up at half time, Shorey missed a penalty and Reading should have had another one - nuff said! Now if you think they played well in the first half, you should have seen the second... Reading totally dominated the second half to such a degree that the fans were counting passes.

Sidwell scored the first - he was just outside the penalty area when Reading took a corner - he hit it first time on the volley at mach 5 - it went at a seering pace just off the ground, took a slight deflection......goal number 1. Reading then took total control and ravaged the Forest defence for 20 minutes, in which time Scott Murry tantalised Walker and co. to such a degree that the full back committed Hari Kari. Following yet another stunning Reading move Scott cut inside from the right wing primed the musket and pulled the trigger - goal no 2.

Meanwhile the Goat had been holding the ball up and playing delicate knock offs, who said he's got a bad first touch, perhaps it was me, anyway at last he received a ball facing the goals, he fired a low fierce shot and the goalie pulled off a good save. 'Feed the goat and he will score' echoed around the stands. He received his second opportunity facing the goals, took careful aim and fired a low rasping shot to the side of the goalie - goal no 3. The chants of 'feed the goat and he will score' must surely have been heard in Australia - fair dinkum!

Well it was at this time that Reading started playing touch the ball if you can. The Forest fans were only noticeable by their total silence throughtout the game. At final whistle the 16,800 Reading fans gave the team a standing ovation. On leaving the RRs fans were all enthused in conversation about the game as the sad Forest fans sat gloomily in their coaches awaiting a long stuffy journey in silence up the M1.
John Lambourne

nick newbury
Another season, another season of hope another season of dreams, but another season that will be different, because this will be the season that Reading Football Club come of age. This is a very good football team make no doubts. I've spoken many a load of bollox on here and more than likely will continue to do so, but, I've never started a season with so much optimism and confidence. The club goes from strength to strength as does the team and the manager. After being cheated last week by the Tractor Boys and a top class bent tosser of a referee what a way to bounce back. Where do you start after a performance like that today against one of the so called better teams in the division. Yes I know there are 44 games to go but yesterday I can't think of many better performances or teams by a Reading team ever! Murty, Shorey, Williams, Watson, Forster (still a greedy pig) were quite outstanding, but Sidwell and Murray were amazing. Brilliant substitution by Pards in bringing Watson on who had a stormer. Scott Murray, hail! I was so chuffed when we signed him and like many remember him destroying us on many occasions for Bristol City. He will prove to be one of the clubs best ever signings, the man will become a hero, wait and see. We are one of the best teams in the Football League and this team can go up. Whether we do time will tell, I've had a substantial wager that we will go up, all I think we need is cover for the two centre backs and a good left side midfielder to play in front of the brilliant Shorey. If you get a chance go to the BBC Nottingham web site and listen to the post match interviews and report by the Radio Notts reporter, it will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck! Happy days!
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