(Half Time: 1-0)
Reading Scorers: Henderson (82 mins, 90 mins).
Peterborough Scorers: Clarke (7 mins)
Date: 24 November 2001
Attendance: 5,695

Reading: Whitehead, Murty, Viveash, Mackie (Williams 71), Shorey, Watson, Jones (Igoe 71), Salako, Hughes (Henderson 66), Cureton, Forster. Subs not used: Ashdown, Rougier.

Peterborough: Tyler, Hooper, Joseph, Edwards (sent off 71), Williams, Forsyth, Oldfield, Danielsson (MacDonald 71), Clarke, Farrell, Fenn (Bullard 75). Subs not used: Connor, Green, Forinton.

Bookings: Hughes, Forster (Reading). Edwards (sent off).
Referee: P R Richards (Preston).

Reading pulled off a dramatic late victory at London Road this afternoon thanks to two strikes from substitute Darius Henderson. Henderson spent little more than a quarter of the game on the pitch but was the instrument that finally undid Peterborough United who had been leading for most of the game. Henderson's eighth and ninth goals of the season makes him Reading's leading goalscorer - all from a player who so rarely gets at start. So much for Henderson being one for the future - he's clearly one for now!

Reading made a bright start with just one change to the line-up that beat Tranmere Rovers so convincingly during the week. James Harper was mysteriously missing so Keith Jones stepped into midfield in his place. The loan signings of Watson and Salako continued in midfield and once again played no small part in Reading's victory. Henderson will be the hero after his two goals - but it was Salako that set them both up with crosses from the left. Despite Reading's promising start it was Peterborough that took the lead after just seven minutes of play. The Reading defence was split allowing Clarke to break through with just Whitehead to beat. Moments later the ball was between Whitehead and the post and Peterborough were 0-1 up.

The home side looked good for their half time lead after threatening to extend it a couple of times during a first half played at a fast pace. They almost scored from a decent free-kick towards the end of the first half and Whitehead was called on twice to make good saves pushing the ball wide from shots on target. However despite Peterborough's attempts on goal it was Reading that had most of the possession. We managed to win a lot of corners as we pushed forward but otherwise didn't really put enough pressure on the goal. Cureton had a shot just over the bar and Forster forced the keeper into making a save but otherwise Peterborough looked reasonably safe.

With Reading trailing in the second half we went on the hunt for the equaliser. Again we seemed to be putting the home side under a bit of pressure but without finding the net. Centre defender Adrian Viveash went close twice with two headers as he came forward to join the attacks as the Royals won a series of corners and free-kicks. Cureton and Forster both had efforts on goal but failed to trouble the keeper enough. With time running out Henderson came off the bench just after the hour to give Reading a three man front line.

With the home side starting to look a bit shakey Reading took more of an advantage with just less than twnety minutes to go when Peterborough's Edwards was sent off after picking up another yellow card for hacking down Forster. The home players and fans may not have been too happy but it wasn't his first foul on Forster after picking up a yellow card for the same thing during the first half. With Peterborough down to ten men Reading started to look more and more likely - and then on 83 minutes we were level. Salako got down the left and crossed to Henderson in the middle who connected well to make it 1-1.

As the game entered injury time it looked like our winning run might finally come to an end - however, Salako and Henderson had other ideas. Once again Salako put the ball in the middle from the left and Henderson directed a superb header into the back of the net giving the poor Peterborough United goalkeeper no chance at all. Two great goals from Henderson and it was all over - another three points for the Royals to make it nine wins from ten games - and seven straight victories. This was deserved victory for Reading who never stopped playing and worked hard playing some decent football. It all looks so good right now. When will this crazy run end?

Post Match Opinions

Well what a game! A deserved victory for the Royals and just what was needed to shut up the critical people sat behind me who moaned the whole way through. Why do they bother to travel so far to moan and concentrate on the negatives? Yes, Mackie wasn't perfect and yes, he was caught flat footed for their goal but credit to the 'boro No 9 Clarke, he was fast! The criticism of Hughes was also warrented but he tried hard and gave his all, it will come together for him soon I think. Jones also got some flak but he didn't have too bad a game I thought. Anyway it would be rare to see a display where no one made any errors, most of the team made some! But let's credit the opposition for once, they made life difficult for us with Clarke's pace and played some nice neat football for short spells, defended well and in numbers and generally looked difficult to beat despite overwhelming pressure for most of the game. As for the sending off of Edward's he should have gone sooner, he found Forster a handlful the whole game and fouled him every time he got close to him. He was booked in the first part of the second half, weas trhen warned by the ref who if you read body language was definitely telling him that was his last warning and within a few minutes he up-ended Fozzie again, off you go son! Question is it a coincidence that we have faced 10 men for the last 3 games or is it that our front men are getting very difficult to handle? Anyway back to today, eventually class won the day this year and we got the victory. Bring on Chesterfield... Come on URRRRZZZ!
-- Steve

When Peterborough kept their slender lead until the 80th minute, despite all our pressure, I thought it was gonna be 'one of those days'. However, this is the all new determined Royals, who fight to the end to scrape vital draws- in the end we thoroughly deserved victory. We've had an incredible run of form and let's hope that when it comes to an end (it will...) we won't then enter a run of bad form, as seems to be the usual thing with Reading. Sign Salako, and we'll be in a better position to stay up the top of the table!
-- Andrew

Couldn't make game so listened to the excellent totally biased coverage on Radio Berkshire. What a thriller, now I'm starting to believe! Hail young Henderson, what a transformation. Is it coincidental that this amazing run has started since the departure of Mad Dog? The team is transformed regarding their belief to win. The other magic fix has been Salako, getting better by each game, top quality. We must buy him if we are serious, please JM stick your hand in that fat back pocket. I'm now gonna get bolloxed tonight. Pardew in?
-- Nick Newbury

Like Nick, I sadly missed the game. Living in exile, I couldn't even listen to it on the radio. I had virtually given up hope, when Sky Sports Soccer Saturday flashed up an equaliser from Darius Henderson, only to go one better, sending the rather small south coast branch of the Royals supporters club, (numbering just two), into ecstasy. Not only an equaliser - a winner from the same player! I hurriedly phoned a mate who was at the game, only to be told that the turnaround hadn't gone down too well with the Posh. In fact, he was threatened in the bar afterwards, and was almost beaten up in the car park. He wished the angry mob a fond goodbye, and rang me back, telling me how this was a championship winning performance. I don't know whether he meant the football, or his personal success in avoiding a kicking. I am sad to have missed it anyway. Winning away is becoming a habit. Two points off the top, and six clear of fifth. What a turnaround! Top by Christmas? I had better pinch myself. It must be the sea air.
-- Kevin, Worthing Royal.

For the last fifteen years I have been a Royal through and through. I moved to Wargrave from Peterborough in 1985 where I had lived for twenty years and watched the POSH throughout the dank and dismal 1970s. Peterborough drew Reading in some insignificant cup in 1986 and I thought I'd nip down to Elm Park as I was missing my football since moving and thought it would be good to see the lads again. Well Reading stuffed the POSH that night and even though I was a little down hearted at the result I left Elm Park thinking - I like this ground - run-down, quaint and cold but at least it's team play decent football and isn't that Gilkes something else! Well, fifteen years later I haven't missed a Royals V POSH fixture, home and away in all that time. The difference being that I have also been to Wembley twice with Reading (1988 & 1995), Cardiff this year, held an Elm Park season ticket for seven years and now a permanent fixture in the North stand at the Mad Stad.
From the whistle announcing the start of the second half a Reading goal was INEVITABLE! It was one way traffic and I was convinced a draw was on the cards. Reading's movement was better and someone must have told them at half time that if we can keep the ball in midfield, play to feet and not give it away then Forster and Salako will get the ball into the box. The problem was we were doing that effectively but had no tall hit man to target. Enter Darius - the equaliser satisfied my feelings of inevitability but also made me feel we could snatch it. And snatch it we did - why because the lads never gave up. They kept coming forward wave after wave with renewed confidence - why because they are being allowed to play football and are no longer afraid of some 'mad dog' beating them up at half and full time with Ryman league kick and bully tactics (sorry Ryman teams!) There are different types of motivation and Martin Allen didn't provide it.
Reading has some class footballers and I think they respond to educated motivational encouragement not the 'I'll show you a video of what happened last time we were in this situation' school of thought. Yesterday's performance was outstanding - character forming and reminiscent of the 93/94 season - never give up until the final whistle and look where that got us. For the record - the best game I ever saw Reading play was the 3-1 away win at Tranmere in the 1995 play-off game, I have my doubts about Pardew's tactical capability, Salako will be the difference for Reading this season - sign him up and Darius Henderson is surely one for the future - let's bring him on carefully, I'm happy for him to come on as sub for the last fifteen/twenty minutes of every game if he scores two goals.
Finally, I still have a fondness for the POSH and hate to see them lose unless it is to Reading. I think we would all like to see the POSH win next saturday though.

-- David, Wargrave

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