(Half Time: 1-0)
Reading Scorers: Cureton (5 mins), Hughes (80 mins).
Bournemouth Scorers: Hayter (48 mins), Holmes (71 mins).
Date: 5 March 2002
Attendance: 13,538

Reading: Whitehead, Murty, Viveash (Rougier 81), Mackie, Shorey, Igoe, Parkinson (Harper 69), Hughes, Salako, Cureton, Forster (Henderson 45). Subs not used: Ashdown, Williams.

Bournemouth: Stewart, Young (McAnespie 84), Howe, Maher, Purches, Elliott, Tindall, O'Connor, Hayter, Holmes, Feeney. Subs not used: Menetrier, Thomas, Ford.

Bookings: None.
Referee: Richard Beeby (Northampton)

I'm sure everyone would have expected a win from tonight's game against an out-of-form Bournemouth side deep in relegation trouble. We'd had a minor slip up against Cambridge United on Saturday - after only managing a draw at their place. Tonight was the night to make up for it and pull off a win to set us up for the massive promotion showdown at the Madejski against Brighton and Hove Albion. During the first half it looked like we'd thrash Bournemouth, but that quickly slipped away, and we nearly managed to get nothing from this game which seemed like such a straight forward victory on paper. We needed Bournemouth to miss a penalty in the dying moments to take the point, and we needed a Reading goal ten minutes from time to pull level after going 1-2 down with less than twenty minutes to play.

Reading started brightly. And continued that way for at least the opening thirty to forty minutes. We were playing some good football and creating chance after chance. It seemed to be a matter of how many we'd win by rather that if we would win. Jamie Cureton gave Reading the lead after just five minutes after the Royals won a free-kick on the edge of the area, just on the left. The free-kick hit the top of the wall and was deflected into the top of the Bournemouth net. A fortunate goal, but they all count, and Reading were 1-0 up. Nicky Shorey could have twice added to the score. Twice he hit excellent long range shots - once the keeper pulled off an excellent save, and the second attempt found the top of the crossbar rather than the roof of the net.

Jamie Cureton could have made it two after being put clean through on the right. Cureton broke into the area and probably should have taken it closer, but shot early and put it wide. Reading looked dangerous and put in some decent crosses that caused plenty of problems in the Bournemouth defence. However, we failed to take the chances when it only needed someone to put a foot on it to steer it into the net. We were doing everything right with some fast attacking football and a real willingness to shoot, until it all dried up just before the break as Bournemouth got their defence sorted out. We stopped breaking through and Bournemouth seemed to be able to cope all of a sudden - successfully defending in numbers.

The away side then turned strong defending into attack and could have pulled level before the break when they broke and Whitehead needed to save well to his left from a strong shot just inside the area. Bournemouth's recovery continued into the second half when they did equalise with the Reading defence looking more than a bit uncomfortable. Reading's pattern had gone. Bournemouth started to enjoy the vast majority of possession, as Reading played some poor balls forward in the air rather than play the good on-the-floor football that had served us so well earlier in the game. The introduction of Henderson at half time probably had a lot to do with this as we continually pumped the ball high into the box - rather hopefully - rather than play it along the wings.

The Bournemouth defence easily cut out our balls forward in the middle and gratefully picked up the ball to play it forward. With Parkinson replaced by Harper we lost our ability to win the ball back, and Bournemouth took full advantage to start playing the ball around on the floor themselves and press forward. It was no suprise when they took the lead with twenty minutes left, when a corner from the left was headed on at the near post and into the net.

Bournemouth taking the lead brought Reading back to life a bit, and hope was restored with ten minutes left to play when Henderson at last managed to win a ball with his head and Salako took the ball deep inside the Bournemouth area on the left. Salako kept it in play and pulled it back for Hughes to head home at the far post. A well taken, well worked goal, and 2-2.

Reading clearly wanted to win the game still after pulling level. The clearest sign you could ask for was Rougier coming on for Viveash. Time to stop defending and pile forward looking for the goal. It looked like it might happen until Bournemouth took advantage of Reading's weakened defence and broke forward. Mackie lost his man and seemed to bring him down from behind as he charged into the box. It was always going to be a penalty. We didn't expect Whitehead to save his second penalty in two games - but luckily he didn't have to. The resulting penalty was blasted well over the crossbar, and the score remained 2-2.

Deep in injury time Reading could have sneaked the win. Cureton broke down the left, beat a couple of players and fired a superb dipping shot towards the goal. The shot beat the keeper and looked to be dipping in, but came out off the crossbar, and it was Bournemouth that were allowed to hang on for the point. Reading had more corners, more shots, and probably more of the ball over the ninety minutes, but the second half display made you grateful that we'd managed to take the point. One thing's for certain - we need a better performance across the ninety minutes against Brighton.

Following report from John Wells:
For the second time in four days Reading fought back to salvage a point from a team struggling at the bottom of the table. It is very heartening to see the determination and resilience in the side, but at the same time very worrying that we are finding it so hard to take maximum points from poorer sides. As I said on Saturday, I would rather see three points and less excitement in the current situation.

This evening the Royals started in fine form. Bournemouth couldn't get out of their own half as Reading forced them to play the ball square and back. When in possession they were carving out chance after chance. Cureton opened the scoring after four minutes when his free kick was deflected past Stewart off the Bournemouth defensive wall. Igoe had a shot blocked after an excellent passing move had opened up the Bournemouth defence. Cureton had a fine header well saved. Hughes wasted a good chance after Salako had found him unmarked on the edge of the area. Shorey struck a superb shot from twenty yards which was again well saved by Stewart. A minute later Shorey thumped another shot against the bar from a similar distance. It was all Reading but I was beginning to feel the second goal should have been scored in that spell. The Royals then seemed to run out of steam as Bournemouth enjoyed a ten minute period of possession just before half time during which they produced their first serious strike, a volley by O'Connor, which flew just over the bar.

At half time Forster was replaced by Henderson which was probably due to the injury Forster had picked up on Saturday. Bournemouth came out a different team after the interval and Viveash was left struggling for pace against Feeney who cut the ball back for Holmes. Fortunately his finish was poor and the ball struck Whitehead's legs and then Hayter blazed the ball over. Reading were lucky to still be ahead. Their luck ran out two minutes later when Viveash failed to control a ball which Hayter struck sweetly into the corner of the net from twenty yards. Reading were looking very ragged and the crowd had gone quiet.

Reading rallied briefly but were Bournemouth were looking very dangerous on the break. Salako hit a good shot after cutting inside, but Stewart saved well, and Igoe failed to get his shot away quickly enough when put clean through by Hughes. Viveash looked very vulnerable when Feeney (or anyone else for that matter) was running at him. A second goal for Bournemouth was looking likely. Harper came on for Parkinson which was probably a good idea as Parky was looking jaded and had started passing the ball consistently to Bournemouth players! Reading were very lucky not to have a penalty awarded against them when there appeared to be a deliberate hand ball. The reprieve was only brief as Bournemouth took the lead a minute later when Holmes headed home from a corner.

The ground erupted with a relieved roar when Hughes headed an equaliser with about ten minutes left to play. The whole team were clearly desperate to win this game. Pardew then made an admirably bold move by taking off Viveash and sending on Rougier leaving only three at the back. It was as clear a statement of intent to try and win the game as he could have made and
Rougier certainly livened up proceedings even further taking players on and creating an even greater sense of urgency. Then as time was running out Shorey stumbled leaving Feeney in the clear. His progress was halted by Mackie who bundled him over in the area realising he was not going to catch him. He was lucky not to be booked or sent off. I buried my head in my hands
in despair only to look up and see Elliot blaze the ball over the bar. Luck was really on our side - or was it. In stoppage (and Bournemouth's time-wasting) time Cureton worked his way into the area and curled in a superb shot which struck the bar. It would have been great goal and a great injustice to Bournemouth.

I don't know why or how Bournemouth got back into this game but they should have been buried by half time. Great goalkeeping and poor finishing had a lot to do with it. There were some good performances tonight but I was particularly impressed with Cureton. Although he missed good chance when left with just Stewart to beat in the first half, he still looked the most likely player to score, but tonight he was also prepared to work hard and be much more aggressive in competing for possession. On this form there no question about his inclusion in the starting line up.

Today's performance raises a number of questions. Will Adie Williams be back against Brighton? Will we go up as champions? Will we drop in to the play-off positions now that Stoke are hard on our heels? Who was the phantom pie thrower? I must say I share the concerns of the officials about the pies, although the referee's assistant should be grateful that he didn't have to eat the thing! ( I trust no serious injury was inflicted by the savoury missile.) Personally I think custard pies are more in keeping with
the decisions that have been made by some of the officials I've seen this season.

Post Match Opinions

This is all about opinions, so here goes... this was a dreadful performance from Reading tonight against a team who are rock bottom of the current form table and have won just once in the last 18 games. When the early goal went in and for the next twenty minutes we bombarded the Bournemouth goal we were all thinking here we go.
But no not Reading, why?
Complacency, arrogance, nerves, inability to kill teams off? We have to face the fact that every team that comes the to Madejski , treat the game as a cup final, they are going to raise their games and fight for their lives. For times in the second half it looked liked Bournemouth were the team going for the championship not us , with Fenton outstanding and making our defence look like statues. I thought the defence and midfield were woeful tonight, off the pace, slow, terrible passing and often caught in possession. The two goals we gave away were down to dreadful defending which will be crucified on Saturday if they perform the same. If ever there was a six pointer it's on Saturday, win we are eight points clear, lose its two points in front with a game in hand for the shitty seagulls. Everybody connected with the club have done fantastic to get into the position we have with eight games to go. However, it's never over till the fat lady sings, and two points from two clubs in the bottom four is simply not good enough. Lets hope tonight's result and let off with the penalty miss, give the players the jolt they need to realise they are going to have to fight and graft for every single second of play for the remainder of the season. It's quite simple, do they want it enough? I'm sure they do, and they will never have a better opportunity than on Saturday in which to prove it to all of us long suffering nervous Royals fans.
Lets do it Saturday... URZ!

-- Nick Newbury

Well so much for the doom and gloom merchants who thought we'd lose to the mighty Bournemouth! A solid draw against the odds (after all, every team that comes to the Madejski has the advantage of being guaranteed to play above itself because it's such a wonderful venue) sees us right on course for a play off place against Huddersfield.
Like so many times before, Reading failed to nail a team who were so lacking in confidence in the first half that they could have conceded six had our finishing been more clinical. Once Bournemouth realised they weren't going to be thrashed they relaxed and, at times, played us off of the park and probably would have won had they remembered that they weren't playing London Irish and that penalties are supposed to go under the bar.
I have to ask, why did Mr Pardew bring on Harper for Parkie? Was it just to give Bournemouth more advantage in the air which, of course, they capitalised on within minutes of his departure? Or was it because our James had convinced him that he's a much better player now he's been watching Man United on tele? I have to tell him that I've watched an awful lot more football on TV than James but it never stopped me from playing complete rubbish. On Saturday will he bring on Ashdown for Mackie and play rush-goalies?
Look on the bright side, in the first thirty minutes we were superb. Maybe one day all of our chances will go in. Hopefully it's Saturday against ZHA!
So come on URZ, let's stop messing about and make sure that we are in Division One come the Autumn.

-- Hook Royal No.6

It is about this time of year that we all have to remember that we are Reading fans. Our ability to screw up at the final hurdle is what binds us all together.
Tonight was, as stated by others in this section, frankly awful.
It isn't the result that really bothers me. We are still five points clear, and I would rather be in our position than any other team in the division. The worry is our current standard of play. Apart from the Stoke game, and the second half at Wycombe, we have been pretty unconvincing since we luckily beat Caskey's Notts County 2-1. We were woeful at Brighton, workmanlike at Swindon, brilliant for the visit of Stoke, great in the second period at Adams Park, and lucky to get two points out of six in our last two games against relegation threatened Cambridge and Bournemouth.
The strange thing is, I think our main problem is our strike force. In virtually all of the games mentioned, we had good opportunities to finish teams off early on. Tonight was a classic example. We should have been 3 up after 20 minutes. The fact that we squandered so many chances seemed to give a fairly bad Bournemouth side a new self belief. Forster and Cureton are both great strikers, but in my view are lightweight together. Rougier has been taken to the fans' hearts, but his finishing is inept. Henderson hasn't quite made it, and overall our best strength of last season, our ability to score with ease, has deserted us. I dont even know whether Butler is the answer. He was massively out of form before his injury. It may be something that can be overcome with hard work in training, and a return of confidence. I hope so, because another trip to Cardiff might just finish me off!
We can still be the best team in the division. We are still in the pound seats. For God's sake let's shake off our second best mantle, and whop it up Zamora and Hove Albion on Saturday. Come on URZ.

-- Kevin, Worthing Royal.

This was a major disappointment, make no mistake.
1-0 up within ten minutes and with numerous chances coming and going Reading looked like getting a hatfull. However the goals didn't arrive, and with 25 minutes gone and still only 1-0 the Madjeski Stadium descended into some sort of hideous middle class dinner party. All I could hear around me was people talking about their new cars, the shocking price of houses these days, and how mild this winter had been. What was occurring on the pitch seemed irrelevant. I was waiting for the stewards to start handing out Ferreo Rochets to the crowd. I even heard someone discussing last Sundays' Grand Prix. That individual should be banned from ever attending a football match again. He is clearly of no use to Reading football Club.
At this point, Bournemouth, sensing a get out of jail free card, started to play a bit and steadily improved as the game wore on fully meriting their unlikely draw, which could and should have ended with a dramatic victory but for the worst penalty miss witnessed at the Madjeski. Credit to Reading for battling back when it looked like they were out of it with 15 minutes left, and but for the post, Cureton nearly snatched it in injury time. Reading must however bury weaker opponents when they are on top. A second goal early on would have started a rout, and I honestly thought we were looking at a four or five nil the way we started. I thought thought the the introduction of Harper and Rougier might snatch a late win, but Harper put his boots on the wrong feet and had a howler, and Rougier sort of threatened with his jinking runs, but kept forgetting to take the ball with him. This caused utter confusion to the opposing defence, his own players, the crowd, and not least himself. In his previous life Rougier was a champion Break Dancer. He's still worth having though because, mark my words one day he will score a goal you will bore your Grandchildren with.
What this poor result does do however, is set us up for a corker on Saturday, a genuine six pointer. If Zamora is somehow kept quiet, promotion will be within touching distance, if he runs riot then it's tears. All supporters with a heart condition, or any stress related illness have been politely asked not to attend. Hold on tight!

-- Bob Lethaby

Ok I'm sure everyone agreed that we totally tore them apart in the first 30 mins... then I bet when BFC went in half time only a goal down they knew they could come back... and that exactly what happened. It must be nerves coming into play. If it bad enough for the players, what's it like for us fans! Does anyone think that since Salako officially signed for us he hasn't been the same player since? Take tonight game for example... his crossing was appalling albeit one decent cross to Hughes' goal... plus if Forster wasn't 100% fit why risk him? Wouldn't it have been better that he been rested for Saturday's vital crunch game? Let hope that the last 2 games serves up as a wake up call to the players and realized they got to work at it till the very end until promotion assured. Ok at least it a point we got tonight and Brighton did draw with them last week so it not a disaster. Another 8 games to go. Let get behind them starting with Brighton who? It ain't over till the fat lady sings......URZ!
-- Justin Evans

I often read the opinons here with interest, but do not very often submit my own. But tonight was in my view so disappointing that I have to give my thoughts.
Ok, we got a point but we should have won this game so easily. Bournemouth were dire until we let them get into the game and they grew in confidence. I hate to say it as I am a fan of Alan Pardew and what he has done for the club, but I really think tonight he made a serious error in judgement in bringing on Henderson rather than Rougier for the injured Forster and it cost us the three points. From then on it was just pumping the ball into the box looking for the target man and Bournemouth lapped it up. We played into their hands with exactly the sort of second division football they could cope with and counteract and they did so well.
I think Henderson is a good player and there is more to his game than just his heading but this was the wrong type of game and the wrong time for his introduction. Had Rougier come on I am sure we would have continued to play skilful football that as was evidenced in the first half hour was too much for Bournemouth to deal with. Even if Rougier is unlikely to score, I think the attributes he has shown recently in pressuring the opposition defence into errors, and utilising the possession when he has it would have created a good number of opportunites for Cureton and made all the difference.
It does worry me slightly that Pardew seems to have lost some faith in Rougier because I think he gives the side a good balance and is a natural link between players such as Salako and the goalscorers, be they Forster, Cureton or both. On another note I thought Igoe was again excellent tonight, and struggle to understand why he has not been offered a contract. If we need to cut numbers, surely you instead get rid of people such as Alex Smith who has failed to perform and is unlikely to get back in the side now we have Salako?

-- Nick, London.

HNA, Oh dear.. So many things worry me about the game last night. I have hardly slept & I just can't bear to see us throw it away again this year.
In no particular order, my concerns: Pardews comments - On the website, 'I'd be happy with 4 points from the 2 games' (AFC & BHA) - Sends the wrong message to everyone In the programme - 'Banish those thoughts of uncetainty and it all going wrong, I am very confident and so should you be'. Give us a team then Alan that FIGHT for every ball, don't lose ridiculous posession in midfield (that caused their penalty). We were second to the ball so much especially in the 2nd half and we might believe you. If we are going to throw it away the crowd have to at least see that we are giving 110% from start to finish. If we do this our skill will see us through. For 30 minutes we were excellent, for the rest of the game we were dire. So many times in games like those we get nervous and concede awful goals like Bournemouths second from a header almost on the goal line! How many corners and crosses did we have where no-one got on the end of them or frankly got anywhere near them, we must improve this. Cambridge & Bournemouth - Tough games ? Cambridge lost to Port Vale, Colchester and Blackpool before we went there. All teams with nothing to play for. Bournemouth - Couldn't even beat Peterborough (the divison's poorest form team) with 10 men. Let's not let Pardew & Co make us believe these were difficult games, we made them difficult.
To end on a positive note! The team need us and whilst my comments may come across as very negative I will be there 'singing my heart out for the lads' on saturday. A win against BHA would make us all fell very differently and hopefully give the team renewed confidence. Let's all contribute and not get on the players backs if we can possibly help it.. hard I know! Finally, Jamie Cureton you are a star. Not just a goalscorer but some lovely neat passes and lay offs last night and if that shot at the end had been a goal I think a Reading 'legend' could have been born... Oh and Jamie, there's still time! Come on URZ!
Thanks a lot Hook Royal No.6 on a morning of abject gloom your report actually made me laugh and feel better!

-- Dean, Crowthorne Royal.

What entertainment, what a thriller, but what we really needed was three points.
We started magnificentally, playing the ball around with confidence and ease. We tore Bournemouth apart, we were a delight to watch. What we lacked was an end product. The goal that we did score was a deflection from a free kick, and though we could point to numerous other chances we failed to convert. Forster was clearly handicapped and so there were none of his usual runs to the heart of the defence and though Cureton worked his socks off, he is at his best in the box and the switch of roles with Forster did not really work. On another day we would have bee three nil up by half time. It was similar to Stoke but then we were able to control the game for the whole ninety minutes. Yesterday after 35 minutes you could sense the confidence starting to come back to Bournemouth as they realised that though they had been totally outplayed they were only one down. The Cherries started the second half as they had finished the first and this time they were rewarded with a goal. A slip by Murty, who otherwise had an excellent match gave them a half chance which was put away clinically. Both goalies made good saves. Their second would have given cause for concern in that it was from a corner, and in truth they looked the liklier winners. What they had done well was to close our full backs down when we had the ball. When they had possession they isolated Shorey in a one to one with Feeney who had sufficient pace to trouble our youngster. They still had the organisation to double up on Solako.
With the flanks restricted we had to play through the middle more and I am afraid that our passing there was not good enough. Harper was unable to change that when he came on and that was disaapointing. In fact the subs. bench showed the strength of our squad but none of them was really able to make an impact, and the fact that Henderson was there meant that too many long balls were hit and crosses were not delivereed from the right places. The climax was amazing. the penalty miss dramatic and Cureton's effort at the death worthy of winning any match. Pardew was brave with his substitutions, but what we saw showed that we still lack that bit of guile around the box. We have one player who might yet provide it for us when it really matters. Martin Butler could yet have a key part to play.
Tonight we lost ground on our competitors but we still have a healthy lead to take us into some tough games. After all it would be a bit boring if we just walked away with the league, wouldn't it?

-- Ken C

It all started so well, and almost ended a disaster.
An early goal from a deflected Cureton free kick and Reading were rampant. We were playing great football, their keeper made a couple of fantastic saves from Cureton & Shorey. Then we stopped! Why? Bournemouth were on the racks and looked like a 4th from bottom side. We could have slaughtered them. It wasn't the usual story of Reading creating dozens of chances and failing to take them. After 30 minutes, we simply stopped playing. Our midfield evaporated which left our defence with no option but to hoof balls up the pitch. Add to that Bournemouth's number 5 who never seemed to get tackled and ran past our back 4 at will and nobody picking up players in the middle. We were shit! This was a return to the kind of football that led to us being stuffed by Swindon, and fans calling for Pardew's head. For the last 15 minutes of the first half and the majority of the second half, I sat and watched Bournemouth pass better, tackle harder and generally dominate Reading.
Only when we equalised did we begin to look like we cared. I was watching Pardew and he was constantly telling the players to push up and attack. But nobody listened. OK, 2 draws against shit sides doesn't end your season, but we all know if we play like that against Brighton we will get murdered. Lets face it, if Bournemouth had converted that penalty (what was Mackie doing?) I couldn't see us getting anything, nor deserving from the game.
Sort it out!

-- Paul L, Thatcham Royal

We Reading fans have had decades of training in pessimism and are expert moaners so it's no surprise to see the comments this morning. Shame because it was a tremendous game of football - as has become a tradition for this fixture (Bournemouth, we'll miss you next season). After such a start it is a mystery why we didn't stuff them. We have quality players throughout the squad but it is not just skill that wins games and last night's problem seemed to be a psychological one. The team kept trying the quick one-touch stuff and then got despondent when it didn't come off. After their first goal, we needed someone out there to calm things down but the touchline exhortations seemed to be the opposite. When we did keep possession and moved the ball around we always made Bournemouth look poor, even in the second half. I agree with the argument that bringing Henderson on encouraged his use as a target man. Lobbing the ball hopefully up to him wasted a lot of possession- although it did lead to the equaliser. However, we wouldn't have needed an equaliser if only we had kept possession. The message for fans, team and particularly the team management is DON'T PANIC! I sometimes think it doesn't help to talk up a game ('massive'; 'six pointer' and so on). Sometimes it may be better to take the pressure off a bit.
We really can do it this season - even if Brighton beat us. There is nothing wrong with the squad and the tactics are mostly good. The management just have to persuade the team that they can cope with setbacks. The fans can help too.
We have to get behind the team more and not get on their backs (and that includes YOU Dave!). Last night I was pleased to see the reaction of the crowd at the end of the game. If anyone had booed I like to think they would have been lynched. Let's keep that spirit going for the rest of the season.

-- Mista Kook

It's good to see other correspondents on here acknowledging the fact that, at times last night, Bournemouth played us off the park - and credit where credit is due most especially to their number five who was outstanding. Perhaps the moron sat next to my son and I in the North Stand last night who unleashed more invective on both teams than was necesary or warranted should note that. Is it impossible to give praise when praise is due? Or is raining down continuous criticsm the way the world is moving forward - oh, how I hope not. Was last night a point gained or two dropped? On balance, most probably the latter since we should have won comfortably. That we didn't was (in my view) down to one factor - they were hungrier and, having gone a goal down inside five minutes didn't allow their heads to drop.
However, having knocked one in so early, Reading - as a team (with one or two noteable exceptions) - became cocky and arrogant by displaying an attitude of: we're top of the league and come rain or shine, we're going up. That may well be in time but strolling around for a fair proportion of time on the pitch isn't the way to win games. And, by winning games that means nailing the opposition. Because, this season's race for the all important clamber into a higher echelon isn't going to be over until the final whistle in the final game is shrilled. Sadly, it was also an attitude diplayed by too many fans at last nights game. We're not there yet... are we? For the team - its time to rid yourselves of the complacent attitude, to get busy, to chase every single ball as if its the most important thing in life, time to really play for ninety minutes instead of sixty or so. You know you're good enough - we, the supporters, know that too.
There's no debate that this is a good team and a team capable of making a great showing in Division One next year. And, to be where we are with just eight to play is a remarkable testament to JM, Pardew, the back-room staff and the players.
Every single point counts now - last night's among them. But the one's will only be turned into threes when the team display the work ethic and class that we all know they can, plays the ball on the ground as opposed to the grim display of punting it high in the air in a vain display of hope and, basically, plays as the Division One team that they truly are. For the terraces - streams of worthless abuse are precisely that... worthless. So, while wishing for a home victory this coming Saturday, lets also acknowledge others if they are better.

-- Neil Storey

I am having an interesting football week. Tuesday, Royals v Bournemouth, Wednesday, Man Utd V Spurs. Others have said everything I thought about Reading's performance but I wanted to share something I saw at Old Trafford. Man U stuffed Spurs 4 - 0. Spurs were down to 10 men after about 30 minutes. All through this, the Spurs Fans were magnificent. They sang and clapped for the full 90 minutes, refusing to be down beat as the inevitable stuffing became more obvious. Man U were 4 - 0 up with 10 minutes to go and the Reds faithful were starting to leave in droves but still, Tottenham sang and none of them left early. None of this helped Spurs perhaps because there were about 3000 of them and 65000 MU fans but my point is these were true supporters.
I know this column is widely read and I would urge all Royals fans who are going to the BHA game on Saturday to sing all afternoon and don't get on the teams backs if Brightons one and only asset manages to score first. We are worth an extra man on the pitch if we believe in our ability to raise our teams game through positive support rather than negative. We are No. 13! Lets have No. 13 be man of the match on Saturday.

-- Paul, Binfield Royal

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