(Half Time: 1-0)
Reading Scorers: Forster (8 mins)
Huddersfield Town Scoreres: -
Date: 18 August 2001
Attendance: 11,915

Reading: Whitehead, Robinson, Williams, Whitbread, Murty, Parkinson, Harper, Smith, Rougier (Henderson 64), Forster, Hughes (Igoe 15). Subs not used: Viveash, Ashdown, Shorey.

Huddersfield Town: Margetson, Jenkins, Evans, Lucketti, Gray, Irons (Mattis 88), Beech, Holland, Armstrong (Thorrington 64), Hay (Macari 88), Booth. Subs not used: Digby, Moses.
Igoe, Williams (Reading); Beech, Booth, Lucketti, Thorrington (Huddersfield).
A N Butler (Sutton-in-Ashfield)

It hard to remember the last time Reading managed to start the season with two straight league wins - well back in the old Elm Park days of the 1993/1994 season. With the league campaign starting with a tricky trip to newly promoted Blackpool, and continuing with a visit of promotion hopefuls Huddersfield, even the most ambitious fan would probably have settled for four points. Reading and Huddersfield started the season as everyone's favourites to take the top two places come the end of the season, making this game was an early six pointer. Thankfully, unlike so many other occassions recently, the Royals failed to disappoint. It's going to be a long, long season - but if we're going to avoid the play-offs this time around then we needed a good start to the season. For a change we have that good start to the season after Nicky Forster's first half goal defeated Huddersfield Town and won the full three points for the Royals.

Alan Pardew will be delighted with the victory. It was all about the result today and a victory over Huddersfield Town is exactly what we needed - even if the game might not have been the most exciting match the Madejski Stadium has ever staged. For an early season fixture it's impossible to complain about a tight defensive performance (apart from the odd patch), a good show of possession, and plenty of playing the ball around the ground instead of hoofing it in the air. Reading looked the more stylish of the two sides - and that was without our famous strike force of Butler and Cureton. Rougier was ruled fit before kick-off to make a start in place of Butler who played at Blackpool. It was a good performance today from Rougier and the rest of the side - although a performance that perhaps might be improved as the season continues. Huddersfield made more chances than the score line suggests and on another day we might not have come off so well - but for the most part they were second best to the Royals.

Off the pitch John Madejski will be very very pleased. The crowd might not have been massive, but it was certainly a good size. However the real success was the number of new Reading shirts on show at a crazy forty quid a go. They were everywhere - so much so that it was hard to spot any true hoops. Fans may have spoken out about not liking the new shirt, but clearly it's not affecting sales. A few more wins and sales will increase further along with the crowds. Reading FC is a true money machine nowdays and simply doesn't compare to the club that existed ten years ago. There's good and bad points associated with that. A clear step backwards from last season was Kingsley, Reading's all very modern club mascot. Despite the victory younger fans went home unhappy at Kingsley's rather crap new appearance. He's lost hair and weight, changed colour, and is no longer a Royal looking lion at all.

Sod Kingsley though. What really mattered was how the team has changed from last season. Thankfully there we seem to be moving in the right direction. The Royals worked well as a team with the new signings - Hughes and Smith - slotting in a treat. Hughes didn't get a chance to make a massive impression after leaving the pitch just fifteen minutes into the game. The good news on Hughes early departure was it looked like just a precaution with no obvious injury. On the day it didn't work out to be bad news at all with Sammy Igoe coming off the bench and perhaps even being the man of the match. Caskey was missed twice during the game - two second half free kicks that he might well have stuck home. Other than that we didn't miss the fat pie eating one with young Jimmy Harper and Smith in midfield providing plenty of creativity. Sammy Igoe injected plenty of speed and played some simply fantastic balls through to Forster. The midfield looked good. In defence we had Viveash in reserve. Viveash! A quality central defender kept out by two even better central defenders. There's no doubt we have a squad capable of taking us all through this season to the top of the league.

Parkinson was outstanding once again. He never fails to impress with his effort. Early in the game it seemed like Parkinson was the only Reading player challenging for the ball. Perhaps a bit harsh on the rest of the side, but with Parkinson winning it all over the place he appeared to put the rest of the side to shame. With Reading an early goal up it was vitally important to keep possession - and for a moment we looked to be letting it slip until Parky bought the game back under control.

But it was Reading that seemed to have the game under control right from kick off earning a few early corners. With eight minutes gone we won a second corner on the right which was pumped into the box by Smith, the ball was played back out by what looked like Williams, to find Forster who was just inside the box just left of centre. Forster hit it well sending a low drive through a crowd of players and past the keeper into the bottom right of the net. 1-0 to the Royals and the perfect start to the season at Madejski Stadium.

Reading continued to look dangerous down the right throughout the first half, and another corner on the right almost saw us make it 2-0. Smith again put the corner in but sent it much further, above the crowd of players in the Huddersfield box, finding Forster alone on the left side of goal. Forster stuck it back in the middle of the box and Parkinson came close to scoring his second of the season with another header. Parky did well to put his head on it but the ball spun just wide of the right post, and the score remained at 1-0. Murty kicked off another move a few minutes later which gave Reading another good chance to pull further ahead. Murty supplied Smith, who passed the ball through to Forster. Just outside the area Forster shot, but the keeper saved well getting down low to his left to push the ball wide.

With Reading looking comfortable Huddersfield came into life towards the end of the first half and really should have pulled level before the break. Twice they cut through the Reading defence to supply a player with a clear shot on goal. They really should have done better with these chances. First the ball was driven well wide of the post from the right side of goal after the ball was crossed low and wasn't intercepted by the Reading defence. Following that they stuck one well over the bar rather than keeping it low.

The half time break was just what Reading needed to calm the game back down again, and the second half seemed to get underway at a very slow pace compared to the end of the first. Huddersfield lost their initiative for a while as the game was held up for a number of stoppages - including a couple of Huddersfield bookings for fouls awarded by the linesman. Huddersfield eventually mustered up a couple of long range shots - but it was nothing to trouble Phil Whithead in the Reading goal. Reading pushed forward to earn a couple of free kicks on the edge of the area with Harper and Smith both being brought down as they tormented the away side's defence after breaking free. With no Caskey Reading tried to be a bit more inventive with the free-kicks. It might have worked on the training ground, but today the ball was played a bit too short and just gave possession away. Another free kick was blasted over the bar, but Reading were still in the lead. No need to panic.

With the midfield breaking through well it might have been an ideal opportunity for Darius Henderson to make an impression on the game after replacing Rougier with about twenty minutes to go. Unfortunately Henderson again failed to make his mark on the game. Henderson is clearly the big awkward striker with a serious lack of speed. However, the ball wasn't being pumped into the box to him and he failed to cope with a number of balls played in front of him along the ground. The Huddersfield Town defence had no problems coping with the player, and Henderson failed to make anything of his limited chances.

Once again we were left with a couple of minutes of nervousness at the end of the game. With Reading just a single goal up and five minutes of stoppage time announced it was inevitable we'd have to defend a final few Huddersfield waves of attack. Luckily it didn't come as strong as expected, and Huddersfield played a couple of poor balls which just helped Reading play out time. One more poor cross that was easily cleared by the Reading defence and it was all over. A deserved 1-0 victory for the Royals.

Post Match Opinions

Can't complain with six points out of six for a good start to the season. The bookies made Huddersfield second favourites this season, well if they are right we'll have no problems this season, but somehow I don't think it's going to be as simple as that. We did well enough yesterday and both sides had good chances to score but it was Forster who took his chance and secured the points. Harper and Parky both played well but we still look like lacking the creative talent that on his good days Caskey could provide. I thought the two Ade's at centre back looked very dodgy and work will be have done in that department if we are to maintain a promotion challenge. It's said that an average of two points a game will win you the championship so we're doing well so far. Tough games early on will test us though with Butler and Cureton to come back the future can only look bright especially if we can keep hold of Cureton with WBA making an approach apparently. Finally, what the bloody hell has happened to Kingsley! He looks more like a big ferret than a lion! He took terrible stick yesterday and I'm genuinely worried for the poor thing. Bring back the old Kingsley I say!
-- Nick Newbury

Ok the fat pie-eating one may not be missed during the game, but oh for the American idea of special teams (if we still had him). The two free-kicks just outside the box were totally wasted. Dazzer would at worst have forced a save out of the keeper and maybe scored. We've got to find a replacement (Harper?). And who's going to take penalties? Curo has missed a couple and is not playing any way.
-- George Town

There's plenty of optimism in the air and if we can carry on like the second half of last season, we should do well. I thought we won without looking particularly good, which augurs well for when we DO play better than we did yesterday. I disagree with your comments about Henderson, however. While there is an obvious room for improvement, I feel he (with his height and size) gave the Huddersfield defence something else to think about.
-- Richard

I'd say Graham has it spot on. Sammy Igoe certainly looked man of the match to me, he was always a threat. Harper too was excellent. OK he sometimes holds it too long and tries to beat just that extra man too many, but hey it's great to see someone in a Reading shirt prepared to run all opver the pitch and take men on. Henderson did not impress, contrary to what AP says on the RFC site. He lacked a first touch, and could not seem to get the ball under control when under pressure. A Butler or Cureton on form would have added at least one or two goals, there were certainly the chances. Huddersfield seemed to be a good passing side, but never really to threatened apart from a couple of close efforts. The defence looked solid, although Williams lack of communication a couple of times looked suspect. He also seems too ready to punt the ball up field in the air... lets not go back there. The punted effort over the top was something that thankfully scarce overall, and all in all the side is already looking a marked improvement over many last season, principally due to the energy and passing from midfield. And we still have Curo and Butler to come! It's looking good!
-- Gary - Woking

Just watched the match, which for entertainment was pathetic.
Huddersfield were without desire, thank god, or we would have found it tough. Alan Pardews words tenacity spirit and flair will not be enough to get us promoted. What have they been doing all summer? The players play without any confidence and the words Pardew should be banding around the dressing room are, composure, movement and desire. Whilst three points from this fixture are a result, unless Reading start playing confident football, as soon as they come up against the likes of Bristol City it will be Millwall all over again. Reading showed hardly any composure, lacked movement and whilst I can't fault spirit and commitment, where was the desire? In the second half it was if we were frightened to get the ball into a position where we could threaten a goal.
There was no shape to our game, we were predictable and better teams will punish us, mark my words. Millwall won division two last year with confident attractive telling football, we missed out because we lacked that ingredient. If Pardew can't produce a team that the rest of the division fear and by that I mean the teams that will be challenging, then at best it will be off to Cardiff again for more of the same. Millwall got rid of a nearly manager for a winner and if Pardew does not get the Reading unit functioning he will be standing down for someone who can motivate the players.
I am sorry but I was pissed off after watching what would only pass for park football.
I want to be reading match reports like the one Wycombe got yesterday, which include words like devastating. I am afraid I do not agree with the match report, If Reading are favourites to go up they should start playing like it. We had little tenacity, plenty of spirit and apart from Igoe hardly any flair. The only time we looked composed was when Mad Dog gets them skipping around the pitch waving to the fans, and I suspect that's about the full extent of his coaching ability. He screams and shouts at the players, no wonder they play without confidence, you would with a mad man yelling at you. The coaching staff need to get the players confident in their ability otherwise the fans will all be nervous wrecks by the end of the season. I know its early, but we should have gone for Sanchez, he is articulate, intelligent and with resource I would back him as a winner.

-- Paul Finch

There is no such thing as a bad win, and I'd take 3 points however they are created. But, am I alone in thinking that we were a little bit lucky yesterday? If the Huddersfield strike force knew where the net was, we would have lost by at least 2 or 3 goals! I think that Lou Macari needs to tell Andy Booth to put as much effort into scoring, as he does moaning and whinging. He literally didn't stop all the way through the game, and the linesman he continuously abused, finally got his own back by "grassing him up" to the referee for an off-the-ball incident with Williams at the other end of the pitch (an assistant who assisted, how rare!), resulting in a very popular booking.
The match really was very poor, and Huddersfield seemed to be set on playing a spoiling game which knocked us out of our rhythm early on. There was a lot of commitment shown by all the Reading players, but at times they seemed confused with their tactics and positions. This resulted in a lot of miss-placed passes and aimless "punts" upfield. When we bring the ball down and play football on the floor we look a class apart, but chucking high balls up to Rougier and Forster, neither renown for their height and heading ability, seems to be a waste of our talents. We have got four first choice strikers, all of whom will run the legs off 90% of the defenders in this division, but lets not play into the hands of the huge carthorse centre-half's that most of our opponents possess. We have got a stronger squad at the club than many of us can remember, and genuine competition for places for the first time in living memory. I doubt if any single player feels that his place in the first team is assured, and this showed yesterday with the amount of effort shown throughout the whole team. I don't think any individual player should be highlighted for praise or criticism, but the team should be "patted on the back" for grinding out a good result from a rather disappointing performance, incidentally against the team that most of the "experts" have said will be our stiffest opposition.
I watched Reading home and away during their record-breaking performances at the start of the 1985 / 86 season and frankly we were awful for most of the time, but we kept winning! The confidence installed from winning, however it's done, cannot be underestimated and we happened to go up as champions that year! Finally, what have we got to do to fill the stadium? We are the bookies' favourites, and we are playing against a supposed top team! Is it unreasonable to expect 15000+? Let's get behind the boys and make some noise!
C'mon URZ.

-- David, Silchester

O.K. so it was 3 points. Don't we miss Butler and Curo! Does anyone else think the same about certain individuals as I do?
James Harper :- Plenty of prospect but too flash in the wrong areas of the field. Must learn very quickly that all the matches are now serious and NOT exhibition games. Needs to practise shooting.
Tony Rougier :- Why the hell do you beat 2 or 3 players and then go back and try to beat them again. Learn how to give a quick pass now and again and you might contribute a lot more to the team.Another one who needs a lot of shooting practise.
Matt Robinson :- More like bloody Anne Robinson, yes you are the weakest link! Why the hell do you keep getting caught out of position. Most opposing teams attacks seem to come through you so get yourself sorted out. Are you the same player who we admired when you first arrived?
Darius Henderson :- Keith Scott in disguise. So you are the manager's golden boy,well it`s about time you learnt how to trap and pass a ball 'cos I've seen nothing yet that excites me! I know you're only young but for Christ sake put yourself about a bit and show more passion. Needs a lot more footballing practise!
On another note it was nice to see the standard of refereeing has improved - NOT. Didn't that tosser realise he had linesmen, sorry assistants?

-- Steve Allen

Is Paul Finch really a Swindon fan??
-- Gary Paice

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