FA Cup Round Four
27th January 1996

(Giggs, Parker, Cantona)

Att: 14,780

READING TEAM: Hammond, Jones, Gooding, Bernal, Williams, Gilkes, Quinn, Parkinson, Morley, Nogan, Holsgrove.

Ok, first my Report and then Nobbys!

Reading the Sunday Papers made me wonder if any of their reporters were actually at the game. References to the pitch made me laugh a bit. 'Long Jump Pit' and 'Rare Patches Of Grass' were just slightly over exagerated descriptions of the pitch that was in good condition particually considering the weather. The reports also didn't give justice to a galant Reading performance that started so well and could have gone on to cause a shock.

Reading battled so hard throughout. It started to fall apart a little towards the end as United started to show a bit of class going forward and as Giggs and C*ntona got going, but Reading were the better team for long periods of the game. 3-0 flatters Manure so much. Reading played some great passing, flowing football and managed to outclass the premiership lot with ease for the first 20 minutes at least. Man Utd survived the early onslaught and the second half went their way with two goals adding to their first half one as their multi-million pound team got it together.

Manure came out and looked scarey for about a minute. After that Reading settled down quickly, playing the ball around in a classy way. United looked nervy. Andy Bernal quickly took put Cole in his place with a nice strong tackle one minute and then si mply beating him to the ball slightly later. After ten minutes Reading created their first chance when Cantona lost the ball to Gooding who played it to Quinn, Gooding got the ball back on the left and played a great ball to Quinn who powered it goal bou nd. Morley deflected it but not by choice and the ball went narrowly wide. Just 60 seconds later Reading got together another great move with Nogan and Gooding playing it around slicing through United until the line of defence caught us out. With 15 mi nutes gone Manure still hadn't created a chance. It seemed an upset was on the cards!

Cantona floated a ball over to Cole who instead of sending a header goalbound sent the ball high and wide to the left. The South Bank burst into anti-Cole songs. Reading were dealing with United well, Bernal was keeping Cole quiet and Gooding, Nogan and Jones were all diving in their with tackles.

Reading could have taken the lead after about 15 minutes. Tom Jones did brilliantly on the right before floating the ball over to Gooding on the left flank. Gooding stormed forward down the wing and powered the cross in front of the goal mouth. Nogan w as storming in, stuck out his leg, and... missed by a matter of millimeters. One of Readings best chances...

Shortly afterwards Bernal picked up a yellow card after chopping down Cole on the edge of the box. From my position on the South Bank it looked like Skippy had played the ball first and the man later and I went mental when the ref gave out a yellow card. Watching the highlights later he clearly played the man (cool!) and was lucky to only get a yellow. Still it didn't matter as he picked himself up and wasted the free kick blasting it straight at the wall. Holsgrove legged it down the other end of the pitch and tried his effort at a long range shot which stayed on the ground and lacked enough power to trouble Schmeichel. Gooding went on another solo run legging it through the midfield, he played the ball to Quinn wide on the right, the ball was playe d from Quinn to Holsgrove to Morley whose shot went wide without any real threat. Still Reading continued to dominate.

It wasn't until 30 minutes had gone that Manure started to gain their composure and come into the game more. Giggs won the ball off Holsgrove and played a good ball to Cantona whose run could have been dangerous. Keane went down in the area but calls fo r a penalty were turned down. In true cup tie end-to-end stuff though Reading put on the pressure again, Gooding yet again winning the ball and playing the ball forward. Nogan flicked the ball on to Quinn lurking in space but Irwin got in the way to cle ar the danger.

The first corner of the game took 35 minutes to arrive, and went to Reading. Holsgrove took the corner which floated over to Ade Williams. William's header was disapointing and easy for the Manure keeper. Reading continued to show the greater determina tion winning 50-50 balls. The atmosphere was great, I couldn't help feel Reading were going to win this one, if only they could provide the finishing touch.

Against the run of play Man Utd took the lead before half time on 36 minutes when Reading's defence made some hideous mistakes. Gilkes won the ball just outside the Royals box. Instead of hoofing it he decided to go past a few players. Maybe this would have worked against Halifax town. But nope not against Man Utd (who?). Gilkes lost the ball. It was then played through Tom Jones legs, the defence crumbled. The ball was parryed well by Hammond but there was Giggs on the right post to knock the ball in. And the Tilehurst end went wild. Bastards. Those tickets were for Royals supporters. No wonder so many regulars missed out. The goal came from our mistake and not from Manure's build up. Bollocks and one-nill down at half time.

The first half goal was really the turning point in the game. Reading didn't give up but Man Utd became more confident and started to look dangerous. The second half was anything but one way, Reading were in it all the way but it was United with the fin ishing ability, and the ability to create better chances. Giggs and Cantona started working well together - not a good sign for Reading.

Cole's first shot of the game (the first thing he did) saw a shot thunder to the left of Hammond's post. But Nicky had it covered. Paul Parker came on for Phil Neville. This turned out to be a good substitution as Parker worked better in the defence and scored a flukey goal that killed off Reading. As soon as Parker came on he chopped Gooding and picked up a yellow card. This was funny. The ref was walking away from it until the Royals fans put on the pressure going mental on the terraces and eventually the ref deceided to reach into his pocket. Not that I'm saying the ref was total utter biast shite or anything but I think he f elt he had to even out the bookings.

United's second goal came a few minutes later and made me chuckle. Actually it didn't. Paul Parker just on the pitch got the ball on the right hand side. He took it forward a bit looked up at the red gatherings over the other side of the pitch advancin g in on the Royals box. We swung his foot back ready to swing in the cross. Everyone anticipated the cross and then the ball sailed into the back of the net, off the hand of a diving suprised Hammond, off the right post and into the net. And Readings g allant efforts were looking in vain. We were never going to get two goals through this defence. Reading won what I think was their second corner which came across again looking for Ade Williams. The Manure defence cleared it.

Schmeichel picked up a yellow card for time wasting. Cheating bast. Man Utd could have made it three when the ball came over from the left Gilkes failed to clear it but luckily no-one got their foot on the end of it. We could have pulled one back when the cross sailed over from the left, there was the header from Nogan, and there was Schmeichel getting down well to his left. Shit.

Reading made a double substitution with about 15 minutes left with Meaker and Lambert coming on for Nogan and Parkie despite the calls to Archie to get off the bench. We all reckoned putting Meaker on was a plan from the management, hoping Meaker would p lay his socks off, so Man Utd or someone watching would want to buy him. He even put in a good cross within being on the pitch for a couple of minutes. Lambert added a glimer of hope to Readings cause on the left passing Parker with ease with a great ru n and cross.

To Readings credit they kept playing well. Goodings runs through the middle always looked like they could create something. Quinny tried a long range effort which went over the bar. Holsgrove tried an effort but it lacked any power. Reading must have had far more of the play than Manure but lacked any sort of penetration (oo-er). Man Utd must have come with this kind of game plan, just soak it up a bit and Reading stood little chance against this kind of defence, then score with the odd break or thre e.

To be fair United could have increased their lead when the ball was blasted over from about two yards by Steve Bruce. I could have put that one in. But then they did with just 2 minutes left to make it 3-0. The rebound came out to Cantona five yards ou t on the right - he was never going to miss that one.

Cole was utter shite. If he's worth 7 million or whatever Mickey Gooding is worth 20 million.

The Hob Nob Anyone? Ratings!

Nicky Hammond had an OK game in between the sticks. He stood little chance on the goals and did well even to spot Parker's fluke. He positioning was good and at least he caught a number of crosses/corners. 8

Tom Jones: What happened?? He played like a man possessed!! The joy I felt to see him leg it back and take the ball away from Irwin like he didn't exist. Some sexy passing too. Better than Giggs for sure. 9

Mick Gooding played like a 21 year old, erm... except better (!) Brilliant. He was all over the pitch, making vital tackles then legging it past players. He made another great solo run before passing the ball to his left to Quinn. Insperational . 10

Andy Bernal: Did you see that foul on the edge of the box? Nice yellow card. Brilliant! 8

Ade Williams: Looked a little off form really. Didn't do much wrong but I hardly noticed him during the game. Overshadowed by Uniteds forward line I reckon. 6

Michael Gilkes can be a match winner. But wasn't. You never felt he was going to get anywhere when he went down the wing. The defence was far too solid for him. Oh, and that defensive mistake. 6

Jimmy Quinn: Not his best game. Looked a little clumsy at times, turned inside out by Manure. Should have gone off earlier, and got Archie on the pitch earlier. But he still made some good passes and was fully involved in the game. 7

Phil Parkinson: Not bad but could have done with causing Cantona some kind of injury. 8

Trevor Morley: Didn't see enough of the ball I guess. 7

Lee Nogan: Almost Scored.... but didn't! It was hard getting the service to him. We could have done with a bit of his magic, but it didn't happen. Nogan seemed to be back a far bit and made a beat tackle on Lee Sharpe if I remember rightl y. 8

Paul Holsgrove Had a good game, he played the ball around well from the center of the pitch on a number of occasions and was created of a number of moves from the back. 8

Lambert was good when he came on, Meaker was Meaker, and Archie simply wasn't on the pitch long enough.

Man Of The Match: Gooding, without a doubt. Giggs?? My arse.

And then theres all that stuff about Reading being reported to the FA. Bollocks to that. I don't approve of lobbing things at the linesman particually but where was his injury! He faked it! The banana at C*ntona though. Cool. In a was I kind of wish he'd thrown it back in the crowd a little bit more menacingly though. Hmmm. Did you see him after he netted his goal and the signal to the South Bank. Dodgy. Ban him I reckon.

Chant of the day has to be 'We Support Our Local Team', and of course the Andy Cole one. God he was shite. I bet Man Utd wish they had the supporters Reading have. 1 in ten may support them - but they have no passion for their team. 'We love you Readi ng...'

Congrats to the club for managing the game so well, and sorting out any potential problems with the tickets. Was the ground slightly over capacity though? The forgeries never caused a problem as there were lines of stewards at the turnstiles. I got my t icket checked 3 times just to get a programme. I would have like to see a forgery get through that.

So Reading were brilliant. The game was brilliant, the atmosphere was brilliant. The result wasn't - but it was Man United after all. One good point about not scoring I didn't have to use any confetti - which was good because I forgot it. Seri ously though, I would have given anything for a goal which we really deserved. I'd have felt so much better with 3-1.

Ok then lets get in those play-offs. Blue Army!


And now heres Nobby's report! Cheers!

Teams :
Hammond; Jones; Gooding; Bernal; A Williams; Gilkes; Quinn (Lovell 84); Parkinson (Meaker 74); Morley; Nogan (Lambert 74); Holsgrove.
Schmeichel; Irwin; Bruce; Sharpe; Cantona; Giggs; Keane; Cole; Butt; G Neville; P Neville (Parker 53). Subs not used - McClair; Scholes.

Attendance : 14,780
Ref. : J Winter


Paul Parker was the unlikeliest of heroes for Manchester United when his somewhat fortuitous 56th minute strike, the Reds' second, virtually sealed the fate of the First Division strugglers and sent the little Elm Park club crashing out of the FA Cup. Parker, a 53rd minute substitute for Phil Neville, made an almost immediate impact on the game - booked with his first touch and scoring with the second - to ensure that last season's finalists were the only definite inclusions in the last 16.

Parker, not most renowned for his goal-scoring prowess, will have delighted his manager, Alex Ferguson with his long range effort who later admitted instructing the former Reading resident "to shoot as often as possible before he went on."

Reading's joint manager, Jimmy Quinn, saw the visitors second goal as the turning point in the game and admitted : "We knew it was all over when that went in" but added "he had a bit of luck". Indeed the visitors added a third after that but the game was all but won by then.

The fact that the game went ahead at all was a tremendous tribute to the efforts of the Reading groundstaff who ensured that the clash was only one of three to survive the bitter Siberian weather. Nevertheless conditions were not ideal for either team and it took a while for both sets of players to become accustomed to both the occasion and the challenging climate.

It was the home side who looked to be the quickest to settle with both Lee Nogan and Trevor Morley fluttering a few United hearts with early pressure. Gary Neville was called upon to block a Nogan effort in just the fourth minute after the former Watford striker was put through by a long, upfield ball from Tom Jones. Minutes later, United conceded possession to Quinn in the centre who opened up play on the left through his partner, Mick Gooding. His cross in found Morley who struck first-time. Morley's initial effort was blocked and the veteran, who had spent a number of seasons at the other Manchester club, failed to take advantage of the rebound. Just a minute later, Nogan again threatened when he was given space to cut inside after receiving Jone's throw-in from the right but the ball was finally poked off his toes.

It wasn't until the 14th minute that the Premiership side were able to threaten the Reading goal in which the Royals were fielding no less than their sixth 'keeper of the season. The charismatic, Eric Cantona, won possession in the middle of the field and surged forward menacingly before playing a square ball to Andy Cole on the left edge of the penalty area but his headed shot from 18 yards out just shaved the top of Nicky Hammond's cross-bar.

With almost a quarter of the match played it was the home side who again came close. Jones, wide on the right flank, switched play perfectly to Gooding on the left. His superb first-time cross in fell to Morley but his shot flew wide of the target. Launching a counter-attack, Cantona broke through and being faced with a one-on-one situation with Hammond, the recent Reading recruit bravely dived at the feet of the Frenchman - clearly ignoring the infamous, less savoury incidents pertaining to these - to avert the threat on this occasion.

Within a minute, the visitors had the chance to open the scoring after a Michael Gilkes trip on Cole on the edge of the area, just off centre, led to a free-kick. Ryan Giggs initial effort was low and lacked conviction and was easily blocked by the wall. Giggs pounced on the rebound, lobbing the defence this time, but Hammond was able to collect comfortably.

Shortly after Morley came close following a Jones free-kick on the right but his far-post header curled just high of Peter Schmeichel's goal. United failed to clear and, still in possession, Paul Holsgrove's driven shot from the right edge of the area looped just outside Schmeichel's left-hand upright.

The dead-lock was finally broken, though, with just 9 minutes remaining in the first half and it was the visitors who opened their account. On the break, Lee Sharpe burst into the hosts' 18 yard box following a good run from deep within his own half. After playing a 1-2 with Giggs on the edge of the area he saw his initial shot blocked by the Reading defence. Giggs, though, was quick to the rebound and his effort from close range gave Hammond no chance.

Having had alot of the early play, the home side were clearly frustrated to concede a goal in this way and in showed when both Phil Parkinson and Gooding were booked soon after, in quick succession of each other, for clumsy challenges.

There was, however, no further change to the score-line and Reading knew that, if they were to progress, they would have to make more of their chances in the second half.

HT 0-1

Within 8 minutes of the re-start Cole could have increased United's lead but his lofted shot from the left edge of the area, following a right wing cross, fell just wide of the near-post. It was then that Parker was to make a dramatic entrance to the field of play. Within the space of three minutes, Parker was to be entered into stand-in referee, Jeff Winter's, book; first as a result of his illegal challenge on Gooding, and then to be named as scorer of United's spectacular second. From almost nothing, Parker unleashed a speculative volley from the right, some 20 or so yards out. Hammond looked to have had it covered at the near-post but, somehow, the ball just crept inside the upright to practically secure the Reds' passage to the fifth round. However, this was just seconds after Quinn had almost put the home side back on level terms when a clever back-heel from Morley, just outside the United area, fell to the Reading boss whose first-time volley was not not too high of the mark.

Schmeichel, who had been frustrating the home contingent with his apparent time-wasting after the first goal, was finally justifiably cautioned for this soon after United's second.

Nogan came close to pulling the home side back in it in the 74th minute after a good build-up by Quinn who played in a neat cross from the left for which Nogan rose up well at the farpost but his goal-bound header was collected.

That was the last bit of action that Nogan was to play a part in as he and Parkinson were then subjects of a double substitution that was to see James Lambert and Michael Meaker entering the fray in a bid to improve the home side's penetration.

The diminutive Lambert was immediately called into action when he latched onto a loose ball deep within his own half and surged forward strongly down the left, beating his man, before shooting to the farpost, forcing Schmeichel to dive to collect. The goalkeeper's poor short clearance almost let Gooding in but the danger was cleared by the more alert defence.

With just 9 minutes remaining, Steve Bruce threw away one of United's easiest chances when he sliced hopelessly high of an open goal from close range after receiving a square ball from the left. On the break, Gooding was guilty of similar after being fed through by Gilkes on the edge of the area.

Minutes later, Lambert again threatened and his fresh legs got the better of both goal-scorers, Giggs and Parker, on the left but his miscued the final ball and his shot-cum-cross was lobbed high and into the Reading fans behind the goal.

Cantona finally added United's third in the dying seconds to send a brave Reading side out of this season's competition. Nicky Butt picked up possession from deep inside United's half and pushed forward forcibly up the left side, leaving defenders in his wake, before cutting inside. Just inside the Reading goal-line he pulled the ball back sweetly, laying it on for a team-mate at the nearpost, whose square ball across the face of goal fell to Cantona who side-footed home at short range to make a scoreline slightly more emphatic that perhaps the balance of play would suggest.

Despite their efforts, the home side were unable to make their pressure pay and, for this season at least, they can only comtemplate on the courageous efforts shown in both major Cup competitions and hope that the same fighting spirit is enough to secure their place in the First Division come May.

FT 0-3


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