MATCH REPORT: 2003/2004 Season

Reading: Salako (10 mins), Goater (54 mins).
McSheffrey (67 mins).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 15,811

DIVISION ONE 27 Mar 2004
Pos Team P Pts GD
8 Ipswich 39 62 +10
9 READING 39 60 -3
10 Cardiff 38 55 +12
Reading: Ashdown, Murty, Newman, Ingimarsson, Hughes, Salako, Harper, Sidwell (sent off 57 mins), Morgan (Brooker 65 mins), Goater (Watson 58 mins), Kitson (Savage 75 mins). Subs not used: Young, Boucaud.
Shearer, Deloumeaux, Davenport, Konjic, Staunton, Gudjonsson, Kerr, Doyle (Olszar 60 mins), Warnock (Barrett 85 mins), Joachim, McSheffrey. Subs not used: Ward, Shaw, Pead.
Reading: Sidwell (two yellow cards, sent off 57 mins).
Doyle, McSheffrey.
Referee: A N Butler (Sutton-in-Ashfield)

This was an excellent away victory that keeps Reading in touch of the play-off pack, ahead of the visit of fourth placed West Ham United next weekend. It was vital for us to pick up some points today to keep the season alive but we never thought we could collect the ull three points considering our seriously weakened side. Coventry certainly had the better of the game today - but Reading worked their socks off throughout and really battled for this victory. It was a reassuring Reading performance and an excellent day out as a travelling fan - just what we needed to silence those all too keen to write off both the team and the manager, despite an impressive season.

A common target for abuse from some elements of the Reading fanbase is Andy Hughes - his performance did the talking today. With Shorey out injured for the rest of the season and loan signing Gordon unavailable for selection it was Hughes that stepped into the left back position and played a blinder. It was our defensive performance today, along with determination throughout the team, that won us the game and Hughes was in the thick of it throughout with some good runs forward but always getting back and putting in some good tackles and passes forward. It's been easy to pick on Salako when things so wrong as well and he was another player that stood out with a full bodied performance including the goal that put Reading ahead after just ten minutes.

Coventry have been on an an excellent run of league form recently to climb up the table and they must have fancied a last ditch shot at the play-offs themselves. Today's defeat must certainly have finished off their season and kept Reading's alive. But it was the home side that looked the better bet as the game got underway. In the early exchanges Coventry won a couple of corners and put a few efforts wide of the target as they threatened to take the early lead. Ashdown looked a little nervous as he failed to claim the ball and we had our doubts about the new look back four. However, before any worries could set in we found ourselves on our feet celebrating a Salako goal. Kitson was taken down on the wide right, and won a rare Reading free-kick from the referee, which Salako put across into the area. The kick was probably intended to see someone get on the end of it but it evaded the entire forward line, and Coventry defence, and flew into the far side of the net. 1-0 to the Royals.

After the goal Reading settled down and started to see a bit more of the ball and Kitson got in a shot from a Morgan cross that needed a save. It was still Coventry that had more of the game though and Kitson was struggling with some injustice from the referee that saw him penalised for getting even close to the ball. Sidwell picked up a yellow card, which seemed more than a little harsh, but it didn't effect his involvment in the game as he continued to chase the ball down and make some excellent challenges. The midfield was working hard to keep Reading ahead and Coventry were restricted to just a few first half chances including one which was blasted wide when they should have scored.

After the break it got even better for Reading when some good football resulted in a straight forward goal to put Reading 2-0 up. Sidwell crossed from the left and played the ball firmly along the ground to Goater in the middle. Feed the Goat and he will score - on this occassion from the centre of the Coventry box and low into the back of the net. The goal came after a good spell from Reading and was just what we needed to take full advantage while we were on top. Things were going very well indeed until Sidwell saw red for his second yellow card a few minutes later. The Coventry player appeared to go down with minimal contact and stayed rolling around on the floor for just enough time to see Sidwell start to leave the pitch. From that moment onwards it was a case of keeping the home side out and hanging onto the lead.

With just over twenty minutes left Coventry were back in it from a corner which was headed on and then headed home at the far post to make it 2-1. Things had certainly swung around and Coventry began to dominate the game. It seemed only a matter of time before Coventry would pull level. A player flung himself to the ground in an attempt to con the referee once again - but thankfully this time he was well aware of the strategy and waved it away rather than give a Coventry penalty.

Kevin Watson came off the bench to tighten things up and looked good in midfield. Savage replaced Kitson and did plenty enough to pass some time by causing the odd nuisance down the other end of the pitch. Ashdown had certainly regained his confidence and commanded his area as well as holding a couple of decent shots. Coventry perhaps should have pulled level when they did break through but managed to put the ball wide, as well as bouncing it twice off the crossbar from the same effort when Ashdown was beaten. However, Reading continued to hold firm with the whole side back to close down Coventry and effectively push them away. There was plenty of determination and spirit on display today from the Royals, and a relief to take an excellent win against the odds.


Travelled to the game today courtesy of four Coventry Season tickets from a colleague at work who had the flu - so we were sitting in the East Stand alongside some very vocal home supporters - "keep your head down time" ... though this proved difficult at times!! Good report from Graham - Coventry had the better of the game and will have been gutted with the result. But a determined Reading side held on with just 10 men for a superb 3 points. Sidwell's challenge, when he got sent off wasn't fair - a poor decision by the ref. Will take a while to forget the moment when time stood still as we watched in slow-motion the ball bouncing up and down on the Reading cross-bar! Final comment on Andy Hughes ... a great game and what a gent ... coming over at the end of the warm-up to sign my lad's programme.
Crowthorne Seb

Am so pleased about this one, as I have family in Coventry who do nothing but go on about the woeful performances Reading have done against their team up until this game. It was really great to see such a battling performance, with everyone putting their all into getting the win. It's hard to single anyone out as it was such a good team effort all round, but I was impressed with the hard work put in by Salako against his old club, how well Hughes did in yet another different position, and the calmness Harper now seems to have re-discovered in the centre, especially after the completely farcical dismissal of Sidwell. To win through such an utterly appalling refereeing display made the win that bit sweeter. Great stuff all round, and ya-boo sucks to the Coventry part of my family.
Caversham Royal.

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