The Steve Mautone Column

Every week ex-Reading goalkeeper Steve Mautone will be delivering his word on the Royals exclusively on Hob Nob Anyone?
Steve, who now plays for Ryman Premier side Slough Town, will be remembered as Reading's popular first choice 'keeper after signing from West Ham for £250,000 in March 1997. Mauts went on to make 34 first team appearances for the Royals before suffering from a knee injury which hampered his career in the football league.

30 May 2001
"How Did We Lose?"

All the way down the M4 we all kept asking ourselves the same question over and over again.

What started out to being a fantastic day, with a minibus to take us up there and a function at the sports cafť in Cardiff, before the game, all kindly organised by Sue Roberts, turned out to be a sad and depressing trip home.

Walking into the stadium was unbelievable. Seeing blue and white shirts everywhere, you would have thought there was only one team being supported. Every fan in such high spirits, anxious to get to their seats and looking forward to a great game, in a great stadium, to witness a great victory. Once inside the impressive Millennium Stadium, the atmosphere was tremendous, with vocal Reading fans far out numbering Walsall fans. The first battle was won. The game itself was an absolute emotional roller coaster.

The lads started very well and I thought they controlled the game, although it wasnít a particularly good first half but most finals arenít with so much at stake. Reading, the more aggressive and going into the break one nil up, you couldnít have asked for a better start. Parky was winning everything in the middle, Viveash and Williams cleaning up at the back and Cureton and Butler looking lively up front. McIntyre was working hard and creating opportunities for the front two as well. The half time analysis from the fans around me was a positive one. The lads just needed to protect the lead and try to catch Walsall on the break to finish the game off.

The second half couldnít have started any worse. Almost instantly the scores were level. That was not what the doctor ordered. For the rest of the second half, Reading attacked and attacked but just couldnít find an opening. I would say that for the first time this season, Butler and Cureton were not in good form but you always thought they could pull something out of the bag. It was not to be and even with the introduction of last weekís hero, Nicky Forster, Reading could not break the dead lock. With extra time looming every Reading fan was getting more and more anxious.

With the first half of extra time barely started, Reading hit the lead for the second time in the game. I was screaming out for the golden goal rule but as we have seen it work so well in other games, it was not to be. The lads looked very comfortable and in control until, well all I can say is that it was a comedy of errors that resulted in Walsall drawing level once again. This lifted all the Walsall players and fans and definitely destroyed Readingís confidence and from that point on there was only one winner, in my mind.

The winner from Walsall was a soft goal to say the least. Phil Whitehead, who hasnít put a foot wrong all season, was beaten at the near post from a good 25 yards out. Questions were definitely asked and I know that Phil will be playing that goal over and over in his head for a long time to come.

Where to now? Well, Alan Pardew will have to assess his squad for next season, and Iím sure we will see a few changes in the summer, and lift the club for yet another gruelling season in the second division.
Until then, have a great summer and lets look forward to a better one next season.

Steve Mautone
(ex. Reading Player & avid supporter)


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