MATCH REPORT: 2003/2004 Season

18 October 2003: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Reading: Goater (39 mins, pen), Mackie (82 mins), Forster (90 mins).
Fuller (20 mins), Alexander (53 mins, pen).
Half Time: 1-1
Attendance: 13,130

DIVISION ONE 18 Oct 2003
Pos Team P Pts GD
7 Norwich 13 22 +4
8 READING 13 21 +5
9 Nottm F 13 20 +9
Reading: Hahnemann, Newman (Savage 74), Shorey, Mackie, Williams, Murray, Sidwell, Harper, Hughes (Salako 45), Goater, Forster. Subs not used: Ashdown, Watson, Tyson.
Gould, Alexander, Broomes (sent off 35), Jackson, Lucketti, McKenna, O'Neil, Keane, Lewis (Davis 54), Fuller, Cresswell (Edwards 88). Subs not used: Lonergan, Healy, Etuhu.
Reading: Mackie, Murray.
Broomes (sent off), Fuller, Lucketti.
Referee: A R Hall (Birmingham).

Reading twice came from behind, and scored two late goals, to beat ten man Preston North End 3-2 at the Madejski Stadium this afternoon. The visitors took the lead after twenty minutes when Hahnemann should have stopped a tame shot at the Reading goal, but failed to get down, and saw the ball roll in under his body. The Royals pulled level before the break when Preston conceeded a penalty, which also saw them reduced to ten men for a second booking. Goater hit the post with the penalty, after earlier hitting the crossbar from open play, but was lucky to get a second chance when the referee judged the keeper to have moved. His second penalty attempt found the bottom corner and made it 1-1 at the break. Despite playing with only ten men Preston had a good spell of play in the second half and moved ahead when Sidwell took down a player in the area and the penalty was driven home into the same bottom corner. The appearance of Savage off the bench saw Reading finish the game as the much stronger side. Murray nearly scored twice as he burst through only to find the post in his way both times. John Mackie, having a very determined game after coming in for the missing Brown, pulled Reading level with eight minutes left on the clock when he met a Salako cross with an excellent header. With the game in injury time Preston were put under a solid spell of pressure, which eventually saw Reading grab the late winner when Salako crossed again and Forster put it into the back of the net.

Following report by John Wells
Nothing gives you lift more than winning goal in stoppage time - especially when your team have come back from a being a goal behind in the last ten minutes. In a match full of incident and controversy I gave up trying to work out who deserved a point or three points or none at all. All that mattered in the end for me was that Reading had won, and I had witnessed a very entertaining game of football.

Reading were looking more confident than they had against Gillingham, but Preston were looking as if they might be difficult to break down. Shorey and Hughes were combining well down the left and the defence was looking fairly secure in spite of Brown's absence. The game came to life when Reading gifted Preston their first goal after twenty minutes. Williams was flattened off the ball before the ball ran to Fuller. For some strange reason the closest defender, Mackie, decided to back off and leave the Preston forward a clear run on goal. Fuller hit his shot straight at Hahnemann who allowed to ball to squirm under his body and into the net. Reading came back strongly and Goater met a Shorey cross with a powerful header which smacked against the crossbar. The equaliser eventually came in highly controversial circumstances after Forster was hauled down in front of goal when he looked certain to score. Broomes was sent off for a second bookable offence. (In my view it should have been a straight red card anyway.) Goater's spot kick was parried onto the post but Preston's celebrations were cut short as they discovered that the linesman had indicated that Gould had moved off his line too soon. When the protests had eventually subsided Goater had sufficiently recovered his composure to re-take the kick himself although Forster looked as if he was eager to take over the responsibility. Goater's second attempt was well struck and Reading were level. Craig Brown was not prepared to let the matter drop and after a prolonged rant at the linesman and a brief chat with the referee found himself receiving the same treatment as his centre back. Preston were all over the place and Reading were creating openings with ease. Even Adie Williams got in on the act with a mazy run in the box in which he nutmegged one defender and went past another. Somehow the visitors held out until half time without conceding.

Salako came on for the injured Hughes at half time as we expected Reading to continue the onslaught. The referee then was taken in by a ludicrous dive by Cresswell in the area and somehow Preston were back in front as Alexander tucked away the unjust penalty. Reading set about salvaging something from a game that seemed to be going their way up to that point. Murray produced a good run and saw his shot deflected onto the post. Reading looked to have equalised but Goater's finish was disallowed for a hand ball which I didn't see. Then Hahnemann was given the opportunity to atone for his previous howler by making a very smart save to a low shot by Cresswell. 3-1 would have been a travesty.

With twenty minutes to go Reading changed the formation by taking Newman off and unleashing Savage to bolster the attack. The big forward was heavily involved in the closing stages of the game, and although he clearly lacks experience, he was real presence and gave the attack greater impetus. The referee hadn't quite finished. Fuller looked to have been brought down in the box but instead of getting himself a penalty he was booked for diving, a decision which had Craig Brown, now in the upper tier of the West Stand, out of his seat fuming again.

With ten minutes to go Murray hit the post again and I was beginning to think it was not going to be our day, but then Salako hit a deep curling cross and Mackie headed the ball down into the net. Reading now had their tails up and with five minutes of stoppage time announced there was time for a winner. Once again Salako floated in a cross which was flicked on to Forster who gleefully touched the ball into the net and sprinted away to celebrate. It was a goal which sent most of the 13,000 crowd home happy and I was pleased for Fozzy who up to that point was not having a very good day. He had annoyed nearly everyone on and off the field by missing the opportunity to play in Hughes, and later Murray, for a clear run on goal by greedily opting to plough his way through the centre of the Preston defence. He has been our main attacking threat again this season so he's entitled to have a dip in form just like everyone else.

Talking of form, lets hope Hahnemann is not going to continue his dodgy spell for much longer!It is still early days for Coppell, but until he gets to grips with the situation we seem to be managing quite nicely on spirit, tenacity, and good fortune. It is also encouraging to see a few more goals coming from crosses this season. We may not be playing flowing football but there is nothing wrong with the attitude at the moment.


Edge of the seats stuff again today, but this was better than the game against Gillingham. Whereas on Tuesday we were just lucky, today we player better and created chances. It was not the Royals of old, but the new system this season will see more open games. Preston started the better side with some neat inter play. It was no real surprise when they took the lead but Marcus should have done much better - that is two goals in two games where he has put us under pressure. Against Gillingham he redeemed himself with a series of good saves - yesterday the Preston strikers forgot where the target was fortunately. We got back into the game with the penalty and credit to Goater for being prepared to take the second one. Once down to ten men, we would have assumed that we would go on and win it, but early the second half they got their penalty and we were up against it. The emergence of Solako at the start of the second half gave us a much better shape. Hughes had picked up a knock and,if fit, I would like to see him or Watson in the middle for the largely out of form Harper. Solako did what he is good at. Linked well with Shorey, who was a different player with Solako there, and put quality balls into the box. That is what you get with him and it is then up to the strikers to perform. The introduction of Savage also added something as he showed a few tricks but also fitted into the pattern of play. The equalizer was a good header from Mackie from a decent cross from the left. The final goal was a triumph for effort and commitment. Forster put it away and in fairness to him I thought that he had a shocker, but he got his goal. I would think that there needs to be a lot of work done on the partnership between Goater and Forster. Another three points for the new manager, and more to come from the team. Williams was my man of the match, he even had time for a bit of skillful work in the opposition box. Newman has improved each game that he has played at full back, but is no Murty. The key at the moment is getting the balance right, but we are winning again and it was terrific entertainment.
Ken C

Unbelievable! I'm still in shock. All I want to say is whatever Coppell trod in when he went for his interview, don't scrap it off your shoe mate! What a game, a sending off, dodgy re-taken penalty (well done Goat ), an appalling piece of cheating by the cheating diving Preston cheat who got their penalty, a dreadful referee, a clown in goal for us who one minute is letting the ball through his hands, the next pulling off a match winning save, going behind twice, a piece of history... that is a set piece goal for us brilliantly taken by John Hippy Mackie, passing from Reading that would grace Palmer Park, Hughsie getting injured, probably caused by the brain hemorrhage as he went mental at Greedy Git Forster for failing to pass yet again, Ade Williams nutting the Preston defender in their box with a piece of Brazilian skill, Jock Brown getting sent off from the dug out, the return of giant Baz Savage (is he related to Robbie?) and finally to cap it all, a 94th winning minute goal! Shame only 13 odd thousand were there to enjoy it! Bring on Warsaw... URZ!
Nick Newbury

Listened to the radio and read Mr Loaders views in todays Observer and now believe I was at a different game to everyone else. I thought I was at a game where we faffed around against 10 men and it took our goal machine forward two attempts to score a penalty. Where a defender everyone is praising to the heights was lucky to stay on, having deliberately stamped on their forward - I imagine if Preston had done that to Forster one or two might get upset. I now realise I was actually at Brazil v Real Madrid and we were brilliant - must keep taking the tablets. Typical example mid way through second half - Sidwell, with space, time and under no pressure, elects to head punt the ball back to Preston players rather than stop, trap and pass. And what the hell was going on at the penalty with Forster and Goal Machine having a row about who to take it to second time. I think the Managers man management skills need to take in a 1to1 with two forwards who obviously don't get on - e.g Goal machines comments in the Chronic a few weeks back about people who don't look up and pass (which Forster was even worse at yesterday) versus Forster clear opinion that he has been paired witha slow 33 year old "who is brilliant at link up play" (quote) but is clearly crap at scoring goals - which I thought was what he'd been bought in to do.. We need another forward who can run , a midfielder who can stop, look around and pass (Watson?). While I am at it can the bloody BBC and this site shut up about atmosphere and us not cheering - the whole atmosphere idea is that it's two way - we cheer them on and get them going - they play well - we cheer - they get better - we get more excited. More than happy to shout and rave if they are good but having poor luck etc but I ain't going to chant if they are playing crud.
Tails of Woodley

I'm still not sure if 3 points for either side would have been a fair result. Then again, how chances did we create? Murray alone hit the woodwork 3 times. Recently we have been up against some very good front men, King & Fuller. We now appreciate how other teams felt against Forster last season. Every time Fuller was given the ball (a strategy certainly worked on by them at half time) our defence had problems. That said, Salako & Savage turned the game in our favour. I lost count of the number of quality crosses put in by Salako. If Salako fixed the wing, Savage was also what the midfield needed. He was strong, skilful and determined. The longer that game went on, the more likely they looked to concede. Certainly when the 4th official announced the added time to be played, we upped our game and probably deserved to win for that alone. A close game, and not one I enjoyed. I came out of the ground feeling spent. A nice comfortable thrashing of Walsall will be much better for the nerves.
Paul, Thatcham Royal

No-one could deny that this was an entertaining & exciting match to watch. A better performance than vs Gillingham (couldn't fault the team for effort), but still room for much improvement. The midfield still had gap after gap in it that Preston exploited (even when they had 10 men there were times when they had so much room I wondered if it was us who had 1 player less), & still cries out for the assurance & organisation Watson would bring. Both Preston goals were soft, especially the 1st. And then there's Forster...... Ok, he got the winner & fair play to him for being in the right place to pop up and do that, but other than that he was even worse than Tues. He looks very disinterested at the moment; when things don't go for him he whinges & sulks; he did his best to cock up the re-take of the penalty by demanding to take it himself & causing near fisty-cuffs in the process (well done Goater for keeping your nerve despite all this carry-on to score 2nd go); and his passing???? I rarely hurl abuse at our players, but boy was I shouting & cursing at him with all the rest around me when the greedy git chose to shoot at a forest of defenders in front of him instead of playing in the unmarked Hughes. I'm sure there'll be those who slate me for daring to slag off their hero, but he needs a real attitude change at present. Coppell said in his notes he was using the next few games to run an eye over the player's ability & attitudes, and he will surely know of Forsters undoubted ability, but at the moment his attitude says "I am bigger than the team, I am the star, I deserve all the glory, LOOK AT ME, if things don't go my way I will sulk until they do...." Forster needs to be reminded that football is a team game & when he plays for the team he is a great asset. When he plays only for himself as he is at the moment he is a liability & I hope Coppell reminds him of this fact. Plus points of the game were the fact that we came from behind twice, didn't give in & got the reward with the last-gasp winner. Also positive were the contributions of Salako & Savage. I hope the Wallsall game is as entertaining (I still remember the dire encounters with them last season). COME ON......
Caversham Royal

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