MATCH REPORT: 2002/2003 Season

Reading: -
Portsmouth :
Pericard (19 mins, 45 mins), Todorov (71 mins).
Half Time: 2-0
Attendance: 19,535

DIVISION ONE  21 Apr 2003
Pos Team P Pts GD
4 Wolves 44 74 +37
5 READING 43 73 +12
6 Nottm F 44 72 +32
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Williams, Brown (Mackie 16), ,Shorey, Chadwick (Henderson 57), Hughes (Salako 76), Newman, Harper, Little, Forster. Subs not used: Ashdown, Cureton.
Hislop, Primus, Foxe, Festa, Stone, Sherwood, Merson (Diabate 88), Quashie (O'Neil 89), Harper (De Zeeuw 85), Pericard, Todorov. Subs not used: Kawaguchi, Burton.
Reading: Hahnemann (hand ball).
Referee: G Cain (Bootle)

What a contrast to Friday! Unless you are a Pompey fan, this result and performance means absolutely nothing. It was hard to make out what happened today, especially from my "mole's eye" view (row B) directly behind the goal. From my ankle height observations it didn't look like anyone played particularly well. Alan Pardew claimed to be very disappointed and said that his team was tense. Certainly Pompey had every reason to relax and enjoy the occasion whereas the Royals were still allegedly looking for points to secure a play-off place. In the end the home side strolled to three points and looked likely champions. Uncovered seating always seems to kill the atmosphere anyway, but I don't think I was alone in expecting very little for Reading from this game. It was a nice sunny day and neither the away fans or players seemed that bothered about the result. In the end Rotherham and Wolves did the job for us by beating Ipswich and Norwich respectively. If we can't get a point from our next three games to clinch a play-off spot we don't deserve it anyway!

In the opening exchanges both sides were guilty of some sloppy passing, but Portsmouth looked to marginally more in control in midfield. Hahnemann had to make the first save from Quashie in the third minute. Todorov and Pericard were looking sharp and Williams and Brown were working hard to contain them. Brown went off injured after fifteen minutes and was replaced by Mackie. Almost immediately Foxe went close with a header. A few minutes later Pompey were ahead through Pericard following a swift break from midfield by Kevin Harper. The result seemed inevitable from that point on.

Reading struggled to get a grip in midfield and failed. Everything seemed to be going through Harper, who to his credit was always looking to get involved. Unfortunately he didn't have one of his better games, and he was being closed down very quickly. When he did find space, he over hit or misdirected his passes. He was not alone however, everyone was at it. I think Pompey's midfield had the edge in guile and experience. The only serious effort before half time from Reading was a long range dipping effort from Newman easily saved by Hislop. On the stroke of half time Hahnemann came for a cross and didn't make it. From the resulting scramble Pericard hammered it high into the net from the edge of the area to send Reading in at half time with a lot to do in the second half.

Reading raised their game slightly after the break but not really enough to trouble Pompey. Once again they posed more of a threat with Henderson supporting Forster. Shorey tested Hislop with a well struck low shot on fifty-five minutes. Shortly after, Forster who was receiving some rough treatment from Festa, wriggled past the Italian defender in the box, and had he been more determined might have got some reward, but he was more intent on falling over than scoring and his appeals were ignored.

It was hard to see exactly what was going on up the other end but there were a few scrambles which seemed to excite the home fans. One thing however was crystal clear. On sixty-seven minutes Todorov went on a solo run which took him past the Reading defence and he stroked the ball in with some style. Game over. Portsmouth were then happy to let Reading pass the ball about in front of their defence and wait for the moves to break down. They knew they had done their job.

I don't foresee any problems taking three points from a doomed Grimsby on Saturday. The last two games will be mainly to do with keeping free from injuries and bookings. I don't think it matters who we play in the play-offs we are capable of beating all of them. What ever happens it has been a great first season back in Division One. As for today, the most important lesson to be learned is not to ring up too soon when booking your ticket for away games and end up in the trench behind the goal!
Report by John Wells

nick newbury
Not a big surprise, but bit disappointing to get a bit of a tonking, but hey no worries. With the Tractor Boys slipping up (aww what a shame, haha) it means one point against now relegated Grimsby on Saturday and we are definitely in the play offs, an amazing effort for the club and just reward for a fantastic season. Would be nice to finish in fourth and play the second leg at home. I don't want to finish third in a league where there are three promotion places up for grabs. As for Pompey good luck to them for going up, but if they keep that squad they've as much chance of staying up next year as I have pulling Miss World! If you can get your mates , your mother, father, granny, cousins, nephews, workmates and pet dog to the Mad Stad on Saturday and cheer the lads on. It's going to be quite a day. Just the starter before the main course... come on!!
caversham royal
The greatest cheer I got from today was the Ipswich result. Sure their fans will be more disappointed than Reading fans after letting a real opportunity slip by. Although we were poor, no doubt, today, I reckon 3 tough games in less than a week certainly played their part in what happened at Pompey with Friday's match in particular taking it's physical & psychological toll on the players. Still, we're in a strong position going into the last 3 games. Keep it going Reading. COME ON.....
worthing royal
A disappointing end to the Easter programme, although if anyone had offered us six points from nine, before the Preston game, we would have bitten their arm off. I had forgotten how uncomfortable, and dangerous the away end is at Fratton Park. If we had needed to get out in a hurry, we would not have stood a chance. Like John Wells, I couldn't really see enough to make much comment on the action. It was clear that we gave the ball away too much, and were beaten by a better side. It is no disgrace to go down to the likely champions, and on another day, we probably would have defended better. Thanks to Ronnie Moore and his team for beating Ipswich. He always did seem like a pretty nice bloke. A win on saturday against the fishy people will give us what we deserve. What happens after that is anyone's guess. URZZZ!
wimbledon royal
A bit of a let down after Friday's superlative pereformance against Forest which reminded me of the Wigan game 2 years ago. Nevermind, we only need a point from the last 3 games, and we have already-relegated Grimsby on Saturday. Lets hope its not another banana skin (or slippery fish!). It would be fantastic to get in the Premiership but we will struggle without major chenges. We're just not consistent enough - we have to be able to compete at a higher level, maybe playing 3 games a week, and get results. Win - lose - win lose in Div 1 could translate into draw - lose - draw - lose at a higher level. Anyway the first test of our consistency will be the play-offs. On our day we can beat any of the other teams. Evidence thus far indicates we can also lose to them.....
emmer green royal
A disappointing end to a great Easter but I'm afraid it wasn't much of suprise, there is a gulf between the level Reading are playing at and the level we need to play in the Premier (well to even hope to survive anyway) and this showed that. Pardew said that a lot of people were off their games today. Unfortunately this has happened far too often. Yes it has been a great season but we have to be realistic and our record shows that we have lost 16 times. The present side are so inconsistent. We need to improve a lot tactically (like having more than one tactic) and need to strengthen in a few areas (getting a centre back and another proven goalscorer) if we are going to hope to compete at a higher level than this.
It has been said that we are the weakest link in the playoff places and I have to agree, we have very little experience at this level and probably have the weakest squad. Having said that we have shown that we can beat anyone of the top 6 teams.
If we do go up it will be a great achievement for the club, manager and players, but staying in div 1 another year wouldn't be so bad, maybe in another year we could be in a position to go up and hope to survive.
Good to see 21,000 at the Forest game, hope to see the same for Grimsby.
paul cleveland
Am I the only one that thinks Glen Little is upsetting the balance of the side. We played better against Forest once he was off, I think Salako should start on the left and Tyson should be the sub for that position - Little is not a natural left sided player and neither is Chadwick. I would also like to see Sidwell involved at some point as well - he is a battler and at Portsmouth it looked like too many of ours were not up for it enough.
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