(Half Time: 0-0)
Reading Scorers: -
Bournemouth Scorers: Hayter (71 mins)
Date: 25 September 2001
Attendance: 3,691

Reading: Whitehead, Murty, Williams, Whitbread, Robinson, Harper, Jones (Rougier 77), Igoe (N Smith 72), Butler, Henderson (Cureton 77), Forster. Subs not used: Ashdown, Mackie.

Bournemouth: Stewart, Howe, Maher, Tindall, Purches, Carl Fletcher, Hayter, Elliott, Ford, Feeney (Broadhurst 84), Holmes. Subs not used: O'Connor, Menetrier, Huck.
Robinson (Reading); Howe (Bournemouth).
P S Danson (Leicester)

Perhaps the only consistent thing about Reading this season is our inconsistency. Reading were fantastic on Saturday as they beat Wycombe Wanderers 2-0 at the Madejski Stadium - the biggest disappointment was that we didn't add to our tally of goals. We weren't even close to that tonight against Bournemouth in Dorchester's Avenue Stadium. It was a strange night all round for Reading's travelling support. The exact same team and formation weren't a patch on the side we saw just a few days before, and Reading were beaten by a very average Bournemouth side that won't be doing anything this season. The game seemed almost non-league in front of a small crowd with a nearly full away end. There was little to get excited about, but the away fans didn't make a noise as they watched in horror a non-league game of football.

Dorchester didn't even lay on ball boys and with the stands all so small the ball was either out of the ground or waiting to be retrieved every time the ball went out of play. It meant the game never flowed - perhaps about half the game was wasted waiting for the ball to be brought back into play. It didn't make things better when the linesman found the ball stopped dead at his ankles but refused to kick it back to Whitehead so he could get the game underway again. If that wasn't bad enough Danson, the referee for the night, didn't keep the game flowing when the ball was on the pitch, and seemed to want to spend the night talking to the players rather than referee a game of football. The constant breaks to play really didn't suit Reading, although neither team managed to really get going all night. It was a very poor match for certain.

Reading's passing of Saturday was gone and we looked out of practice or something as we failed to string together any decent moves. When we did it was like Stoke City all over again with the final ball failing to find a target. We weren't as bad as at Stoke City but it was close. Reading got off to the better start of the two sides but failed to keep it going - we won the first corners of the game and had a couple of shots not far off target. Whitbread put one over the bar and Forster got on the end of a cross but put the ball wide of the Bournemouth defence. We quickly stopped playing the ball around and our midfield was non-existant. Jones was doing the simple things right about with some nice simple passes, but then we looked out of ideas of what to do after that. Sure enough, after a while we started to pump balls into the air - and that really didn't help as the Bournemouth defence just cut them all out leaving our three man attack struggling to win the ball.

Down the other end Bournemouth weren't trying anything too different with all the high balls comfortably cut out by Whitbread and Williams. When Bournemouth did look dangerous it was when the played the ball forward on the ground and at speed. They probably should have taken the lead towards the end of the first half with a couple of dangerous attacks which the last man just failed to connect with. A couple of times they broke through the centre of Reading's defence and delivered the ball in to the spare man who just failed to get his foot on it.

It wasn't a suprise to see it at 0-0 at half-time. With the same set of players and formation it seemed the game plan was to sneak a couple of goals in the first half to hang onto. That hadn't worked and it clearly wasn't going to, so it was a bit of a disappointment to see no change to the tactics at half-time from Pardew. It was even more disappointing when we didn't change a thing and the second half continued as the first had. Up front Henderson, Butler, and Forster may have been working hard - but they weren't getting enough of the ball and when they did they could do nothing with it. The Bournemouth defence looked solid, but Butler perhaps should have done better with a couple of chances. Once the ball was played through well from the right into the centre of the box. Butler could have left it for Henderson who was better positioned, but didn't. He then could have knocked it to Henderson but was greedy and chose to shot. That would have been fine if he'd sent a screamer into the back of the net - but instead he poked a weak effort along the ground to the keeper. It was more like a backpass. Butler worked hard all night but is missing something up front at the moment.

With time running slowly out the turning point came when Murty went down injured for a while. When play resumed he clearly couldn't run properly and definately couldn't kick the ball. After a good five minutes he was clearly struggling. This must have been clear to the bench - he should have been replaced. It was no suprise that the only goal of the game, Bournemouth's winner, came down their left with Murty having all kinds of problems with about twenty minutes to go. The ball was played to the right and crossed into the middle, Whithead failed to get the cross properly and the ball was smacked home from close range at the far post. 1-0. Bournemouth had taken their chance and that was always going to be the final score.

To be fair to Bournemouth they could have increased their lead moments later. As Reading looked beaten Bournemouth came forward for their best period of the game, and a good shot from just inside the box needed a good save from Whitehead who got down well to his left to push the ball wide, when it was heading for the bottom corner. Reading reacted to the goal by bringing on Cureton, Rougier, and Neil Smith. But it made no difference, Cureton didn't hardly see the ball. Rougier couldn't get past his man and the best he did was win a few corners that came to nothing. Smith put in a few mis-kicked passes and that was his only real contribution. We had four minutes of injury time but we failed to look like a team desperate for the late goal - and we really didn't deserve one anyway.

Following report by John Wells:
Outside the ground before the game I overheard a Bournemouth fan predict that his team would 'get stuffed this evening'. Everything pointed to a comfortable Royals victory which is why so many Reading fans left the ground frustrated and disappointed with the performance and the result. Towards the end of last season Bournemouth outplayed the Royals and lost. Tonight a vastly inferior performance brought them three points they could hardly have expected.

The small crowd was unable to generate any atmosphere, not that there was not much happening on the pitch to shout about. The formation which worked so well on Saturday did not produce the same result this evening. The first half was simply dour and dull with neither side looking like breaking the deadlock. Both defences looked secure. Reading managed to put together some neat passing, mainly on the right but chances were few and far between. Forster again posed the the greatest threat for Reading with his pace.

Reading started brightly after half time with decent attempts from Butler and Forster. Although the Royals showed plenty of commitment and controlled the game at times, they found it very difficult to break down a resolute Bournemouth defence. When Hayter scored with twenty minutes to go most Reading fans would have settled for a point - but the equaliser never looked like coming. Bournemouth got everyone behind the ball and scrapped for everything. Reading pounded away but increasingly resorted to hoofing the ball forward hopefully.

Jones and Harper worked hard in midfield. Murty, Whitbread and Williams defended with spirit and determination. The forwards were again out of sorts. None of them are performing at their best this season. Henderson found it hard to impose himself on the game against a defence that was strong in the air. Cureton looked eager to win his place back when he came on but by then Bournemouth were packing their defence and Reading were becoming hasty and careless in their build up.

Tonight's game is best forgotten. Only four points behind the leaders with a game in hand is far from disastrous, but expectations are high this year and Reading must not return from away games against teams in the lower half of the division without at least a point. No doubt a point that Pardew made to his players after the game.


Post Match Opinions

Where do you start to describe that load of utter garbage last night? Over 1200 Reading fans last night witnessed last night a team who are so called favourites to win the league, yet against a team that got beat 6-0 recently and lie at the bottom of the league we managed to produce our one and only shot on goal all night after sixty five minutes. Heard Pardew on the radio this morning, "fair play to Bournemouth, they gave it their best, and had nothing to lose, good luck to them"! Get real Pardew, face the facts, the team, and nor have you, not got a clue how the break down teams that work their bollocks off, shut us down quickly and have giant centre backs who deal with our long ball with ease. With fifteen minutes to go we were beaten, 1-0 nil down, where was the passion, commitment, effort? Bloody no where that's where. We all looked at Pardew leaning against the dug-out like a muppet, motionless, not even shouting at the players or urging them on. Absolutely pathetic. I can't be bothered to mention players, except that after the Cambridge game I mistakenly mentioned we needed a new right back, I of course meant a left back, and last night Robinson again raised his reputation to almost iconic status with another diabolical display culminating with being nowhere yet again when the Bournemouth goal came from the left side. One other thing, all the crap that was written about Harper after Saturday, coming of age etc, my arse, he too was crap last night not creating one chance and spending most of the night hiding in midfield . Madejski should have Pardew in his office this morning and ask him to justify that performance last night , it was totally unacceptable and a disgrace to the travelling supporters .If it doesn't improve soon with an acceptable level consistency and performance then he should seriously consider his options before it's too late....... again!
-- Nick Newbury.

The 3,691 fans inside this neat non-league ground witnessed a game of monumental crap. Bournemouth were bad but Reading were far worse, it took 60 minutes of play for Reading to get an effort on goal. From the start it was apparent that are 4-3-3 system was not working, Bournemouth always had the extra man in midfield, could Pardew see this? Obviously not because he only changed things after we went 1-0 down, Smith for Igoe - appalling decision. I again must question are managerial teams tactical ability. Pardew spent the whole game leaning against the dug out post making notes (probably his Tesco shoping list) showing no passion. If I was John Madjeski I'd have Pardew in my office this morning asking to explain the crap performance we witnessed last night and if we have a repeat he's on his way. I know this seams harsh but if i performed like that in my job i'd be out the door. Follows my assesment of players performance last night.
Whtitehead - 6/10 - Appalling distribution
Murty - 6/10 - Stops when confronted by opposition.
Robinson - 4/10 - Crap & Clueless
Williams - 6/10 - Must stop hoofing
Whitbread - 6/10 - Steady but must to play on the deck.
Jones - 6/10 - Steady but needs flare player along side him.
Harper - 5/10 - Clueless
Igoe - 7/10 - Should never have been substituted.
Foster - 6/10 - Needs to get head up & look at options.
Butler - 5/10 - What the hell's happened to him.
Henderson - 6/10 - Still a lot to Learn.
Pardew/Allen - 4/10 - Bloody clueless, just seem unable to change gameplan during play.
I pay good money & give up spare time to follow this club so I am entitled to my opinion, my solution get a coach who understands football tactics before its to bloody late!

-- Bob, Newbury.

Why do we trudge around the country, taking time off from work to watch such rubbish. Why go away from home and play three up front when the three in question are not scoring goals in spades. Harper was useless and surely needs dropping for Gamble. Harper gets lost in these type of games and is not a suitable player for this division. With Butler's loss of touch in front of goal he should be tried out in midfield instead of Harper. At least he gives 100 percent. With Cureton on the bench and today playing in a reserves match he seems out of Pardews plans. On saturday he seemed to have lost confidence and had little opportunity at Bournemouth. Pardew was quoted on the radio that Cureton's 25 goals will be needed to get promotion. With a fifth of the season gone he will soon need to score a goal a game to make an impact.
-- Basingstoke Dave

I don't think Nick or Bob were watching the same game as I was.
It was far worse than they suggest!
Other than when Williams was booting the ball into Tesco's car park or onto the railway track we spent the rest of the game passing it about across the front of a massed Bournemouth defence hoping someone would fall over and gift us a goal. Only Forster, Igoe and Murty seemed to have any desire to take defenders on and Forster presumably felt that, having got the ball, he certainly wasn't going to give to anyone else in a hooped shirt. Despite being a desperately poor side, Bournemouth worked bloody hard and were likely in the end to get a chance on goal. They did. They took it. Goodnight, Reading. Hate to say it but, based on last night, we've got about as much chance of getting promoted as Swindon.

-- Hook Royal number 6

Another dismal performance and 3 lost points that could prove vital next May. The night started badly when Nick Newbury abused Ref Durkin with in earshot during the warm up, bang went any chance of a soft Reading penalty - Brilliant. 443 worked well at the Mad Stad against a packed defence but it soon became clear that against a hungry Bournemouth side we were being overrun in midfield, Keith Jones worked manfully to stem the flow, everybody behind the Reading goal could see it, why not the Reading Management? How many goals do we leak down the left hand side?
Is the combination of Roster and Harper the defensive answer, I don't think so! And so it proved. Surely Bury is the game to give Shorey another run. The main concern is our inability to change a game plan when it clearly is not working. All the substitutions were direct replacements. In taking off Igoe and Darrius we remove our main threats on the night. In a tight game like this Jamie Cureton is always likely to give us a goal, however he needs service. By taking Daruis off we removed the one player who was winning the ball and providing knock downs in the box, just the sort of thing that Jamie thrives on, what is our tactic? Hoof high balls into him so he can battle against the six foot plus defenders - Brilliant!! Arguably a major cause of missing promotion last season was the goals lost whilst Jamie sat on the bench - form is temporary - class is permanent - play Jamie!! We still do not have a mid-field ball player. Is Hughes or Igoe or anybody else in the squad the answer?? If not we need to buy. The players need to look at themselves but the management must take the lions share of the blame for not changing faltering tactics on the night, a worry for the rest of the season. Come on lads we need a run of 6 on the spin to establish ourselves and set up a platform to get out of the crap division.

-- Paddy

Listened to the game last night... what are we doing? How can there be such a dramatic difference in the performance against Wycombe versus the one agaisnt Bouremouth? It goes without saying that the players need to think long and hard about their attitude... and the management about what they need to do to motivate this team and achieve consistent performances. We will not win this division, we will struggle (based on these inconsistencies) to finish second, so its a case of the play-offs again (maybe!). I'm not especially a knocker of Alan Pardew, but its concerning hearing him say that on the one hand our team lacks quality... when on other occasions, he's stated we have quality but lacked commitment/desire? What's the problem here? Most Reading fans and neutrals if you talk to them feel Reading have quality players in key positions (bar Robinson), so how can we come away from games like the one last against lowly opposition and create so few chances and fail. West Ham was nice, and a result against Villa would be too, .but in the grand scheme of things I could'nt care less what happens in that competition... going up is what matters... end of story, and Pardew, Allen, and the team need to get focused on that simple fact and now!
-- Nigel, Chippenham Royal.

For Spirit, Tenacity, Flair read Hope, Hoof and Apathy, and that will sum up last nights dismal performance.
Pardew quoted in The Sun today says he would be a genius if he knew what was wrong with his strikers, well perhaps the fact that he doesn't have a midfield playmaker could have something to do with their lack of attempts on goal! (I see Caskey was man of the match for Notts County at the weekend and made it into the News of the World team of the day, enough said!)
On the official website he's quoted as saying that the commitment and character can't be questioned and that all we lacked was 'a little bit of quality.' Well, I don't know what game he was watching last night but that is absolute Bollocks! We had one shot (and I use the term very loosely) on target all night and that came from a very under par Martin Butler after about an hour of tedious boredom. Kingsley Royal looked the most dangerous player in a Reading shirt! Is his comment that 'we got narrow as a back four' on the occasion that Bournemouth scored finally a reluctant admission that Anne Robinson was once again caught out of position for the umpteenth time? (something that all fans have been able to see for the past 2 seasons). Can we at last hope that we have seen the last of 'The Weakest Link' and can now say 'Goodbye?' If he's prepared to play Harper at the age of 20 then why is he so reluctant to play Nicky Shorey at left back? He can't be any worse, can he?
Pardew's obviously lacking in tactical awareness, how else do you explain his decision to substitute Igoe with Smith just after they scored and with Murty clearly suffering a foot injury. I know he'd made the decision to make the change whilst the score was 0-0 but why was he not capable of changing his mind as the goal was scored and at least keep on one of our only attacking options. If it was to exploit the sophisticated tactic of using Smith's long throw into the box then why did he also take off Henderson, the only one of our strikers with any chance of winning anything in the air? I'm so annoyed with the attitude of all concerned with last nights debacle that I can't be bothered to write anything more except to say that with all the money this muppet has been allowed to spend it would be nice to think that maybe the 1100 or so travelling Loyal Royals could expect the club to refund our hard earned dosh in acknowledgement of the unacceptable rubbish served up for us to suffer, but don't hold your breath.
After all when have fans ever been given any consideration?
By the way Bournemouth were crap as well. Enjoy yourselves on Saturday as we struggle to overcome Mighty Bury but don't come looking for me as I'm going to watch paint dry this weekend in the belief that it will be more exciting than anything I've seen in the last 4 league games!

-- Stewart, Thatcham

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