MATCH REPORT: 2002/2003 Season

Reading: Cureton (84 mins).
Brooker (17 mins), Kitson (77 mins).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 16,133

DIVISION ONE  4 Apr 2003
Pos Team P Pts GD
3 Sheff Utd 38 69 +20
4 READING 40 67 +10
5 Nottm F 38 65 +32
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Williams, Brown, Chadwick (Tyson 79), Hughes (Cureton 72), Harper, Newman (Watson 59), Little, Forster. Subs not used: Ashdown, Sidwell.
Beasant, Watson, Mayo, Cullip, Ingimarsson, Hart (Jones 72), Carpenter, Rodger (Oatway 79), Brooker, Zamora, Barrett (Kitson 72). Subs not used: Packham, Pethick.
Reading: Brown.
Hart, Zamora.
Referee: M Cowburn (Blackpool).

Some days things just don't go your way. Today was one of those days. Reading dropped three vital points this evening in a game they did not deserve to lose. In spite of the Royals dominating the play for most of the game Brighton snatched two goals and won the match with some quick thinking and the assistance of some dreadful errors by Hahnemann and the referee.

The atmosphere was just what you would expect for such a crucial game for both clubs. Both sets of fans were in fine voice and the opening ten minutes were fast and furious. Brighton were clearly going to make a real game of it. They registered the first attempt on goal as early as the first minute and were closing down quickly all over the pitch. Reading strengthened by the inclusion of Little, were composed in defence, and breaking well from midfield.

On sixteen minutes the Royals conceded a bizarre goal. Hahnemann picked up the ball from a back pass. The referee gave a free kick. The Reading defence froze, Hahnamann tossed the ball away and turned his back on the game. Zamora eagerly grabbed the ball slid it to Booker who tucked it away before anyone could react. Quick thinking by Brighton , but hardly as Sky Sports proclaimed "the cleverest goal of the season". Typical of the sensational garbage peddled by their presenters. The goal clearly shook Reading and it took them about ten minutes to regain their momentum, but as half time approached they could have scored three goals. Little saw his header headed off the line with Beasant beaten, and then shortly after struck a full blooded volley which hit Beasant. I think he was lucky that it went straight at him. Just before half time Forster was brought down by a desperate lunge inside the box but for some strange reason emphatically denied Reading a penalty. I wonder if the "injury" which prevented him from coming out for the second half was aggravated by seeing the replay of the incident at half time!

Reading continued to press forward in the second half but found it hard to break down a determined and well organised Brighton defence. Pardew tried to improve the quality of passing by replacing Newman with Watson. Then he improved the passing capability of his team significantly by taking Hughes off. A move which was long overdue. Cureton came on in his place. Four minutes later Brighton appeared to put the game out Reading's reach when Kitson nodded a quickly taken free kick at Hahnemann and the ball slipped under the big keeper and trickled over the line. You could ask why he was not challenged, but I would expect a ball pumped into the six yard box to be caught by the keeper. He is clearly a good keeper but does have a problem with crosses sometimes.

Tyson replaced Chadwick who had a good first half but seemed to be too easily brushed aside by defenders when in possession. What has happened to Salako? We could have done with an experienced player who keeps possession on the left towards the end. Cureton was looking surprisingly sharp after such a long lay off. With ten minutes left he turned sharply on the edge of the box and was prevented from scoring by good challenge. Four minutes later Harper battled hard to win possession and the ball fell to the little striker some twenty-five yards out. He struck a superb swerving and dipping shot over Beasant into the net to give Reading hope of salvaging a point. Even with the additional five minutes Reading could not break through. Coppell questioned the amount of time added. Most of it was for time wasting Steve!

This the point of the season when we start looking at the remaining fixtures to see which games are likely to yield points. Its going to be very tight but I think we will just scrape into the play-offs. Signing Little is clearly going to help our cause and I think we are going to need a couple of goals from Cureton again. I am hopeful because I thought the team played well this evening. Pardew sounds calm and in control which is also encouraging and he was spot on in his description of the Brigthon fan's behaviour. It was unsavoury, as was Zamora's. Is it club policy to attack small children going about their duties as ball-boys? I was not in the best of moods walking back to the car but I did manage to raise a smile when I overheard a Reading fan say "If we had Caskey in that side we would be in the Premiership by now". We have definitely moved on from those days!
Report by John Wells

Following report by Ali Costelloe
Good atmosphere before the start, both flags making a welcome appearance. Brighton started well, having the first chance of the match, getting the ball in the reading Box then losing it. Steve brown was then booked for a pretty innocuous looking challenge on the half way line, which led to a Brighton free kick, which was cleared away for a throw in. Reading were on the back foot for a good 15 minutes, then a dodgy looking decision from the referee helped Brighton with the first goal. After a Brighton attack the ball bounced off a couple of reading players, came back to Hahnemann, who took a couple of touches, then as Zamora was harrying him, he picked it up. Zamora waved like a madman to get the indirect free kick, then as it was awarded, put the ball on the floor, slipped it to Brooker, who tapped it into the back of the net. 1-0 Brighton. I didn't hear the referee blow his whistle, and nor did many people in the stadium, but I would be interested to see the replay. I believe that Reading had failed to do the research, as Brighton used the same set play against forest, and also got a goal.

Zamora knew exactly what he was doing, and had tried to get another indirect free kick a few minutes earlier. I think he was looking for them. Back at the other end, Reading were pushing forwards, and were unlucky to see the ball cleared off the line as it was heading for the bottom corner from a header. Reading continued to push up, putting the Brighton defence under a lot of pressure, but poor finishing had let the team down, many shots being hammered high into what seemed to be row HH. Nearing the end of the first half, with Brighton still holding on, Forster ran into the box, and was challenged by a defender. Forster was clearly brought down, although whether the ball was going out anyway I do not know. It could have been a penalty, but it wasn't to be, and after a pretty much even first half Brighton went in a goal ahead.

As the Reading players stood out on the pitch, waiting to kick off for the first half, the Brighton players were still in the dressing room, and failed to come out when they should have done, which led to a lot of booing from the Reading faithful when they did emerge. Reading kicked off for the second half, clearly looking for the goal which would draw the two teams level, and instantly attacked, bringing the ball into the box, only for it to be cleared away for a series of throw-ins. Brighton knew they would be in for a long night, so began to put 10 men behind the ball, frustrating Reading immensely. Nicky Forster was then gifted a good chance, Harper putting the ball through, for him to then hammer the ball into the irritated north stand.

Another similar chance then came, and it looked like Reading had equalised. Forster was put into a similar position, and then tapped the ball right towards what appeared to be the bottom corner, the ball beat Beasant, but failed to reach the bottom corner it had been aimed for, and Brighton were awarded a goal kick. From this goal kick, Brighton pushed forwards, and after some good passing in the left corner, a free kick was awarded after a clumsy looking challenge. The ball was played in, Hahnemann failed to reach it, and Kitson tapped the ball into the net, after Hahnemann had fumbled it. 2-0 Brighton, and it looked like the few chances Brighton had were capitalised on, where Reading failed to finish the moves when the opportunities arose. Reading pushed forwards, determined to gain something from the game, and Pardew realised he had to do something about the lack of finishing, so put Cureton on.

Cureton looked surprisingly sharp, after such a long time out, and had a good 20 minutes, in my opinion. Reading set up camp in the Brighton half, and before long Cureton had a good chance, but an equally good challenge dispossessed him. Within a couple of minutes, Reading had pulled a goal back, Cureton receiving the ball 30 yards out, looking up, then hitting a superb dipper over Beasant, and not this time into the north stand. A beautiful goal from a player who could walk into most first division teams. With 6 minutes left on the clock, there was plenty of time left to grab an equaliser, but as time flew away, there was not much created, as Brighton put 11 men behind the ball, playing out the time in order to get a fifth away win of the season.

Five minutes injury time were added, much to the anger of the Albion fans and Reading looked to use these well, pushing forwards, but failing, once again, to make anything of the chances made. The referee looked at his watch, and then blew the whistle for a hard earned Brighton victory.The Royals failed again to make the most of the chances, and were left wanting.

Statistics: (Shots - Corners - Fouls)
Reading: 11-9-8
Brighton: 3-0-13

worthing royal
Transfer deadline day came and went, and we signed a new right sided midfield player. A good one too. His name is Glen Little. We also re-signed another good right sided midfield player called Luke Chadwick. We then had a big, big game against Brighton at home. Having signed Glen and Luke though, Pards really ought to play both of them. Trouble is, they both do the same thing. Ok then. Why dont we play Luke, who is Mr Beckham's understudy on the right at Man Utd, in a position where he has little or no experience, on the left side of midfield? We can then play Glen on the right. Good as both of them are, it didn't work. Nor did the fact that on deadline day Pards made a conscious decision not to sign a striker to convert the chances that our ample midfield supply.
Pards has done a brilliant job. I still find it amazing that he is so single minded over his insistence at playing one up front, and the fact that half of the division have scored more goals than us, surely must beg the question, 'Would our play off chances not be far better, if we looked like scoring more than one goal in a game once in a while?' Bad news for me tonight, bearing in mind my close proximity to the Faggot Seagull enemy, but that is not relevant to our Premiership push. What is, is that despite being by far the best side tonight, our lack of fire power gave us no chance of victory.
One more point. The big yank has been brilliant since he joined from Fulham.
Tonight he was awful.
Picking up the back pass was bad, but throwing the ball backhanded to Bobby Bloody Zamora without waiting for his defence to regroup was at best niaive. Even Sunday morning players don't do that. He then missed Kitson's glancing header later on, and our chances of victory were knocked out. I live in a tiny little village in Sussex. Paul Kitson played for Brighton reserves against our village team in the County Cup a month ago. He was made to look ordinary. Today he scored the winner against a promotiom chasing team looking at the Premiership. Perhaps that is what makes the game what it is. We can still do it. If Ipswich and Norwich lose tomorrow, we will not lose ground. URZZZ.
ken c
Sometimes keepers keep you in a game, James on Wednesday, sometimes such is the precarious nature of their job, they lose it for you. That was the case last night. The first goal for Brighton was a farce and the blame lay with Marcus. He should not have picked the ball up and he should not have given it away so quickly. That said we had enough time to make good the damage and were not quite able to do it. I thought we started slowly which is not like us. We took our time to settle whilst Brighton took the pace out of the early encounters. After they had accepted their gift, and credit to them for some quick thinking, they sat back and invited us onto them. It looked like we should have had a definite penalty when Forster was brought down but it wasn't given.
Little came close a couple of times and I thought he had a good game. In fact several players had good games. Harper played some key passes, Forster did OK, the defence had little to do. Hughes was largely negated because they played deep and so he did not have the space to run into and it was no surprise when Watson replaced him, although he lost his man for Brighton's second. Chadwick disappointed, whether it was because he was on the left or not I'm not sure, but he certainly gave the ball away too much. Cureton's strike was terrific, but it was too late. We had knocked at the door all through the second half, but in truth were not good enough to create clear cut openings. We are better away from home unfortunately.
It could a long nervous run to those play offs.
nick newbury
You win some, you lose some, and you also throw some away, and thanks to our twat of a goalie, that's exactly what happened last night. Once again, big crowd, Sky TV, chance to put one over our play off rivals, playing fourth from bottom and we blow it. We may have had lots of possession but we didn't really create much. Brighton as have many of our recent opponents, sussed us out with the system we play, worked their socks off and defended very well. It's great away from home but bollocks at home. We've now lost seven, yes seven home games and you have to go to the depths of the division to find another team with such a bad home record.
After two weeks off I thought we'd be well up for this, but I don't know what they've been doing while off , but it looks like bugger all judged on how knackered they all looked at the final whistle. Murty could hardly run yet alone get back. I can hardly bring myself to talk about the first goal, talk about unprofessional, that wouldn't have looked out of place on Prospect Park on a Sunday morning as would the defending for their second goal. The moment we went one nil down Pardew should have changed to 4-4-2 and sent Tyson on with Cureton, who showed what he can do with a peach of a goal.
With our rivals now having two games before our next game against Preston, we may well find ourselves in a different position come that game. It's going to be very tight yet we should still be ok, but any more performances like last night and it's bye bye to any dreams of the Premiership, mind you, who can honestly say we're ready for that yet. Judged on last night we may need nine or ten new players!
One last thing, I don't know if he was ejected at half time, but the Brighton scum in the blue sweatshirt with the bald head who threw the ball into the little ball boys face in the first half should be identified and banned for life from attended games, an absolute disgrace and a bigger coward you will never see.
muswell hill
Naturally I'm pretty pissed off about last night. However there was definitely something very fishy going on:
1. Referee cocks up by awarding a free kick to Brighton for a supposed "back pass" to Hahnemann.
(OK, he shouldn't then have thrown the ball straight to Zamora; but the free kick should never have been given in the first place.)
2. Referee cocks up by failing to give one of the clearest penalties imaginable for the foul on Fozzy.
3. Half time. Sky Sports show highlights of two said incidents.
4. Reading come out. Five minutes later out comes different referee. He would have had just enough time to get kitted up after "Mr Cowburn of Blackpool" had seen the half time highlights and realised it was more than his job was worth to carry on.
5. New ref apparently comes from a small seaside town remarkably close to Brighton. Probably explains his own appalling performance.
6. Five minutes stoppage time added by the fourth official, who of course is now Mr Cowburn from Blackpool (nursing his remarkably convenient calf strain). I don't recall the game ever stopping in the second half. Was he trying to make further amends?
PS. Idiots who chuck footballs at those who give up their spare time to help out football clubs by keeping the game flowing should be ejected immediately, whether they're "fans" or players....
ricky royal
So Mr. Pardew brought the Rouge back as soon as the loan period was over. He had a good spell playing with the seagulls. Their fans even sang his praises at this game. One would think that Pardew would put him in seeing he is in such good nick. But where is the Rouge? Somewhere in the park; definitely not even on the bench where, I am sure, Mr. Pardew was regretting it. I agree that not every game Rougier plays is brilliant, but look whats on the pitch while he isn't. Well, let's see how we do this year.
royal royce
Did anyone else watching the game think about what Bobby Zamora’s hold up play and height would bring to Reading? Pardew’s view is that Reading has enough talent in its current strikers, so he’s spent his money to duplicate every midfielder. Harper = Sidwell, Little = Chadwick, Tyson = Salako, Newman = Watson, and Hughes = well he’s never the same player two matches in a row so he doesn’t even match himself. We all complain about playing one up front, but apart from Butler and Cureton in division 2 (while Forster was injured), there has not been a productive strike partnership since the move to Madejski. With Reading’s talented back four, ample midfield and the big yank, a hold up striker that Forster or Cureton could work off of would be great to see. Henderson isn’t a division one player, and Reading must be the shortest team in Division 1. Come on Reading, open up the pocket book this summer and let’s make the premiership!
caversham royal
Well this is what happens when you concede soft flippin' goals. The 2nd showed yet again our fallibility from set pieces, i.e. where was the marking?? The 1st was an absolute joke. Forget slagging off the ref, Zammora, and whoever else may have been vaguely involved at the time, the blame rests 110% with goalkeeper (for picking the ball up in the first place and then stupidly chucking it away in a strop) and defence (for standing there gawping as Zammora rushed to pick it up and set up the simplest of goals thinking the ref would blow his whistle) APPALLING. It was very unfortunate the 2nd came when Reading had started to force things by vastly improving their performance, and 2 goals proved just too much to claw back. But positives were Little's performance (great strength and pace), Cureton's great strike (still the one person in the squad who REALLY knows where the back of the net is Pardew), and the fact that all the other results (particularly Ipswich & Norwich) went in our favour. Finally, I'm sure many will slag off Zammora for 'the ball-boy incident' and many round me did nothing but hurl abuse at him all evening. Leaving aside what happened on pitch-side, his performance just showed he's a decent player, and in the end I reckon the unpleasant abuse directed at him is a typical RFC 'fans' trait at players we rather wish were playing for us instead of the opposition. If he'd been putting himself about and causing problems all evening in RFC hoops rather than for Brighton we'd love him, but as he wasn't we call him all the names under the sun, very unnecessary ones from those around me. GROW UP. Another long break, and 2 more crucial matches at home that my father gets to see in my absence. Lucky him and thank God for Sky for the Forest one. COME ON......
brighton royal
How did we lose that one? I'm for it at work Monday, being surrounded by Brighton season ticket supporters! Although I think Pards has done a brilliant job and is unlikely to change things much as long as we are in the play-off positions, it's got to be a worry at our lack of goals this season. Fozzy, (brilliant though he is), is just not a natural goal scorer and will never get the goals needed to improve from where we are now. I think Cureton will score goals at any level - given the service - give him a chance Pards!
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