23 Feb 1999
Fulham 3 Reading 1
Glasgow, Polston, Primus, Gray, Murty, Parkinson (Bernal), Caskey, Brebner, Thorpe,
Howie (because he only let three in)
Reading left Craven Cottage a well beaten side despite starting the game with the same eleven that saw off league leaders, Preston North End, 2-1 on Saturday at the Mad House. The Royals started as brightly as possible taking the lead after just four minutes when Brebner slotted home after work by loanee Tony Thorpe up front.
Paul Brayson could, and probably should have put Reading two goals up on twenty minutes but come off second best after a one-on-one with the Fulham keeper. After Parkie went off with a head injury midway through the first half to be replaced by Bernal it steadily became all one way traffic with Fulham well in control. Reading did well to soak up the pressure up until the break to give hope of a possible 1-1 draw up ahead. However straight after the break Fulham demolished the Royals and we didn't get a look in. In the end we were lucky to have got away with just letting the three in.... The most common word used to describe Reading in this game was "outclassed"...
Garry Griffin had this to say:
Last night we were simply outclassed by a team that attacks the ball right from the off. Fulham were the best opposition I have seen us come up against this season. We did have periods during the game when we played well but that only occurred when we were behind and not when we were 1-0 up. The loss of Parky early on made a difference coupled with no Casper at the back we were bound to struggle.
Brayson had a good chance to make it 2-0 not long after our goal which would have had a different bearing on the game. But the message to Mr Mad must be now after watching Fulham last night, is that £100,000 players will not get us out of this division. Fulham are proof that big spending on the right players gets you the results you need. Fulhams best player must have been Albert, showed nothing but class all night. Difficult to decide our best player, Howie made some excellent saves but not too sure if he dominated his area as well as he did against Preston.
Caskey worked hard all game but was let down by his fellow teammates. Thorpe was tireless up front and Brayson was making a nuisance of himself until he got took off. Glasgow tried hard but was pretty ineffectual and Polston, was he there? Brebner did his normal, working off Caskey but lost it when Parky went. Gray is so one footed that defenders have him in their pockets every time. Murty playing at right back is definately not his position and looked lost for most of the game. Tommy if you are going to play 4-4-2 then get the players in their correct positions. And as someone said earlier Primus knocked a few pounds off of his value last night. Bernal came on for Parky and is a worse midfielder than a defender. MacIntyre came on for Brayson, like for like, I say. Houghton the only one on the bench not to come on.
Overall I came away last night not overly dissapointed, yes we could have played better, a lot better. But it wasn't the worse performance I have seen from us this season. Fulham were just miles superior to us. Good to see a large Reading contingent, and Keegan acknowledging the Reading fans at the end.
The Fulham Website reported:
Reading manager Tommy Burns described Fulham as the best team weve played by some way after seeing his side comprehensively torn apart here at Craven Cottage this evening by rampant Fulham.
Kevin Keegans men were simply irresistible for the entire 90 minutes and it remains a complete mystery how the visitors managed to take their 0-1 lead into the dressing room at the half time break.
In the 4th minute former Fulham striker Tony Thorpe lashed in a cross that was only half cleared, Grant Brebner poked home from close range, but that only lit the touch-paper for Fulhams own version of the charge of the light brigade to begin.
Steve Hayward used the width of the pitch nicely spreading pin point passes out wide to both Rufus Brevett and Steve Finnan. They were having some success down the flanks but both players delivery in the first 45 lacked killer quality and a goal remained illusive as Reading managed to maintain a charmed life.
It seemed as if everyone bar Maik Taylor had seen efforts go wide before Barry Hayles missed the best chance of the half. He found himself three yards out after keeper Howie had been unable to hold onto a Steve Hayward shot, but his effort was pushed around the post for a corner kick.
Fulham picked up were they left off in the second half and after Paul Peschisolido hit the bar on 48 minutes a noisy Craven Cottage only had to wait a matter of seconds before Fulham drew level.
Steve Haywards corner found the penalty area and with the ball bobbling around Geoff Horsfield spun and shot home to send the crowd of 11,247 wild with delightful relief.
Three minutes later Super Geoff grabbed his 11th goal in a Fulham shirt and his 4th in just two games. Another Hayward corner saw Horsfield turn and shoot in similar fashion and Fulham had turned the game on its head.
The home side had genuine claims for a penalty following what appeared to be two handballs within seconds of each other as Fulham pressed further, but amazingly referee Mr.Jones and his assistant failed to spot either.
Fulhams 13-0 corner count reflected our superiority as the Whites pushed forward looking to add to their tally. And on 69 minutes the third goal came via yet another Steve Hayward corner. This time Steve found the head of Captain Chris Coleman whod returned from his one match suspension, his header looked to be goal bound but Kit Symons got the last touch to make it 3-1.
Fulham had numerous other attempts at goal foiled by keeper Howie, the pick of which when a Neil Smith thunderbolt was pushed outwards towards Horsfield, his shot was saved again before Kevin Betsy, on for the superb Barry Hayles hit the post with his close range effort.
So a smashing nights entertainment and another great result at fortress Craven Cottage. Preston, Walsall and Gillingham also won tonight which could make this result even more significant come May.
Soccernet had this to say:
Kevin Keegan must believe it cannot get any better. England on his own terms, Fulham three points clear, and the Reading fans applauding him off the pitch.
Perhaps, though, after a cavalier display that carried the hallmarks of those golden days at Newcastle, even Keegan feels the hero-worship is going a little overboard. He said: 'It's worrying. I had the Man United fans shouting "Keegan for England" and now I've had it again. I hope that's because of the way we played.
'Even when we were 3-1 up we kept looking for more. That's my way. I'd rather win 5-4 than 3-0.'
Certainly the way Fulham took Tommy Burns' side apart proved that it is unlikely they will be sidetracked by their manager's England responsibilities, especially with Geoff Horsfield in such great form.
Even though Grant Brebner swept Reading in front in the third minute, Fulham were a class apart. The only surprise was that it took so long for them to make their superiority count. Barry Hayles and Paul Peschisolido squandered chances and it was not until four minutes after the break that Horsfield equalised.
Within two minutes, Horsfield scored his 11th goal in 18 games since his £300,000 move from Halifax and Kit Symons flicked in Fulham's third.
Geoff Horsfield's double continued Kevin Keegan' s amazing fortnight last night, just as the new England coach's two weeks of excitement looked to be coming to a painful end.
Grant Brebner snatched a fourth-minute lead for Reading and Keegan could only watch, arms crossed and clearly far from happy, as his Second Division leaders squandered a series of glaring chances, with Barry Hayles and Paul Peschisolido the main culprits.
Peschisolido missed again after the break, crashing the ball against the bar. But Horsfield finally hit the mark after 49 minutes when Neil Smith nodded into the penalty area and the £300,000 signing from Halifax created the space to slot home.
Two minutes later Horsfield claimed his 11th goal in 18 games, turning six yards out and stabbing the ball past Scott Howie.
Fulham got their third in the 67th minute when Kit Symons headed home Steve Hayward's corner.