Attendance: 7,771
Scorers: Caskey Date: 4 April 2000
Team: Howie, Murty, A.Williams, Hunter, Robinson, Caskey, Grant, Smith, Hodges (Newman), Butler, Forster (M.Williams).

Match Heroes:

This was another hard working, battling - and therefore deserved - victory for the Royals. Another away victory and another victory over high-flying Bristol Rovers. Satisfying is just not the word. To go to Bristol Rovers, not let a single goal in, and then come away with the full three points for our third victory over the side in one season is amazing. Reading are in fantastic form, there can be no doubt about it. It seems Reading are capable of adapting to any situation to get the points at the moment, and that's exactly what they did against a side who looked capable of stuffing us out of sight earlier in the game. The neutral fan wont believe how Reading managed to come away with the full three points, the home fan will be gutted that despite all the time spent putting pressure on the away side they failed to get the ball into the back of the net even once.

Once again stability seems to be the key for the Royals - with the same starting line-up as the side victorious at Wrexham on Saturday we looked solid as a team. Everyone was working together and there wasn't a single player scared to try and win that ball. Williams and Hunter seem like a near perfect combination right now - they managed to make the best striking partnership in the Division look very ordinary.

Rovers didn't create as many clear cut chances as they might like to have done, but they put Reading under solid pressure in the early parts of the game and did everything but score. It seemed like only a matter of time before Reading let one in, but we stood up strong to the on-slaught. Murty headed off the line early on when the ball was fired goalbound from the middle of the box following a corner from the right. Moments later Butler came to the rescue when the ball just needed to be prodded home from close range after the defence was beaten. They took too long and Butler was there for the vital tackle to send the ball spinning wide when it seemed certain to go in. After a whole load of corners and Reading being unable to get the ball out of our half we started to settle into the game. As the game went on Reading got more and more into it.

Rovers could have been at least a couple of goals up by half time. Right at the end of the half Howie pulled off an excellent save to his right from a powerful shot from the edge of the box. Another time Rovers broke into the box on the right, beat the defence and were faced with just Howie to beat. Instead of firing it home they let off a tame shot into Howie's thankful arms. Howie had one stroke of luck too - when charging out of his box and firing the ball clear it cannoned off a Rovers player and ended up just wide of the post. It wasn't all one way traffic though. There were bright signs up front for Reading with Butler and Forster working well together. Forster was causing a bit of trouble and almost put over a couple of decent crosses. One cross caused all signs of panic in the Rovers defence - which seemed far more shakey than Readings. Butler did well to set up Forster for a run at goal, and with a bit more space Forster would have buried it. As it was the keeper was out quickly to steal the ball from Forster's feet as he charged towards goal. At half time Reading were starting to look the better side and after surviving the first half it was always likely we'd come away with at least one point, if not the whole three.

Mad Dog was up to his usual tricks, and just before the break came over to the 900 or so travelling fans standing in the freezing cold, to get us to wind up their keeper during the second half. Which we did with a few chorus of "Dodgy Keeper". These things seem to work, and as Reading started to create a few chances he put in a couple of mis-kicks and dropped a ball. With a more even start to the second half, Reading started putting a couple of attacking moves together. Butler was brought down on the edge of the box, just left of centre, twnety minutes into the second half. Caskey, with millions of free-kicks to his name already this season stepped up with Butler shieilding the ball. Even before Caskey got near it I had visions of it resting in the back of the net. We weren't to be disappointed. Butler confused the defence by standing there and pretending he didn't know the plan by waving his arms about. Caskey waited a bit, the defence stood there like the kick might be started again, and then Caskey let fly. The ball curved past the right side of the wall, the keeper was rooted, and the ball was in the right side of the net! YES!!! A Caskey special and 1-0 to the Rz!

Now in previous seasons, away from home and a goal up, we might have sat back. But not tonight. Reading looked to killing the game off with a couple of quick attacks right after the goal. Hodges almost scored from the left edge of the ball with a powerful shot that needed a great save from their keeper to keep it out. Moments later Adie Williams connected with a cross into the box and his header wasn't far out.

As the game started coming to a close Rovers started coming more and more forward - and getting more and more desperate. After a couple of decent moves earlier in the game, that were eventually cut out by either Williams or Hunter, they had become frustrated. Gone were the well worked moves forward, and through the middle where they looked most dangerous. Instead they degenerated into some long shots sailing over the Reading crossbar and some mis-hit balls when they tried to rush it. And Reading looked far more in control and likely to hang on for the win. Which they did.

Another solid team performance with plenty of desire to win on show. Every player was determined, and happy to help out at the back when needed. Our defence was superb again, but when they were beaten Howie was always there to make the save. In midfield Grant, Smith and Caskey were tackling hard and contributed a lot even though it wasn't a midfield game for Reading. Caskey may not have been playing the ball around a lot but that was because everything was being hoofed clear from defence to clear the danger. Only Caskey can score those free-kicks, and it would have been 0-0 without him. Reading are now up to 13th, as mid-table as it gets and can enjoy the rest of the season...

Post Match Opinions

Not alot I can add to the above. This was a 100% professional away performance. As usual for these Bristol games, I went with a Rovers fan. He was disappointed because whenever he watched Reading last season, he was guaranteed lots of goals and the Royals rolling over at the least bit of pressure. Oh not anymore. They tackled fantastically from start to finish, Howie was brilliant, and with a few astute signings in the summer, things look promising for next season. Oh, and Mad-dog - when the game gets boring, just watch him, he's worth the entrance money alone.
-- Womble

What a fantastic win ! Well done lads and long may it continue. To win two away games in a row is absolutely amazing - I don't think we have done that since 1994-5. We're now 14 points way from relegation, who'd have thought that at the beginning of the year? Keep it up.
-- Chris Lash.

It wasn't pretty, it wasn't particularly pleasant, but it sure was good to be there and see it happen. Great value for money, just like the Cornish Pasties they served up at half time. Manchester United's "treble" has absolutely nothing on this.....
I read the local equivalent of the Evening Post before the game. It seems that Rovers fans are still seriously pissed off about the game at the Madejski, and the paper's sports pages were whingeing incessantly about how their eleven players basically got beaten up for ninety minutes three weeks ago. Well on the basis of Tuesday's match, I wonder if their reporter had got confused which team was which, because from where I was standing it was pretty much 100% Rovers who were doing the clattering, elbowing and bargeing.
But we adapted to it, stood up to it, and (apart from one silly challenge and one display of utter petulance) didn't deserve any of the numerous yellow cards we ended up with. Unlike the three points, which we thoroughly deserved. Apart from looking really dangerous during the first five minutes, when it seemed as if their 45-goal striking partnership of Cureton and Roberts would run us absolutely ragged, Rovers didn't dish up anything that we couldn't handle. It wasn't that they weren't any good, but just that we played the right game to shut them out of it and soak up all of the pressure.
Howie was in superb form, brimming with confidence when not taking part in the action. Matty Robinson's powerful, surgeing runs down the left flank in the second half caused their defence no end of problems. The rest of the team just moulded like an outfit that had been playing together all of their lives. We were by no means perfect. Frequently we failed to clear our line as quickly or as efficiently as we should have done. But we were solid in defence, gutsy in midfield, and looking potentially quite dangerous up front.
And as for the goal, well you knew where the ball was going immediately you knew where the kick was going to be taken from. Rovers formed a five man wall about three yards from the ball, got moved back about another twelve by the referee, and still apparently shaken from having the laws of the game applied (in our favour, for once) just stood and watched as the ball sailed round them and into the top corner.
The programme even made a point of saying how Caskey had "scored a stylish curling free kick against Rovers a fortnight ago".
Deja vu. And right in front of the vociferous travelling hordes. Sweet, absolutely sweet. "Philanthropy for the underprivileged" was how a Rovers fan at work described it this afternoon. I think not.....

-- Kris, exiled in North London

A great night at the Memorial Ground, again!
The report above is pretty much as we saw it, I would say the victory was 60% effort, 30% luck and 10% Caskey!

-- Glos Royal

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