READING 3 BOURNEMOUTH 3 (Half Time: 1-3)
Butler (26 mins), Caskey (72 mins), Forster (88 mins).
Bournemouth Scorers: Elliot (4 mins, 33 mins), Defoe (24 mins).
|Date: 5 May
Reading: Whitehead, Murty, Viveash, Whitbread, Robinson, Parkinson (Rougier), Jones (Caskey), Harper, Igoe (Forster), Cureton, Butler. Subs not used: Howie, Hunter.
Bournemouth: Stewart, Broadhurst, Howe, Tindall (O'Connor), Elliott, Carl Fletcher, Hayter (Purches), Hughes, Jorgensen (Feeney), Steve Fletcher, Defoe. Subs not used: Eribenne, Narada.
Bookings: Howe, Jorgensen (Bournemouth).
Although it looked unlikely at half time, this turned out to be the near ideal final match of the league season before Reading face Wigan in the play-offs. The Bournemouth fans went home gutted at losing their play-off place to a late Nicky Forster goal, the Reading fans were jubilant after watching the Royals come back from 1-3 down to draw 3-3. The point was enough to destroy Bournemouth's hopes of finishing sixth, and set up a two-legged play off semi-final over the coming weeks between the Royals, who finish third, and Wigan who finish sixth.
The first ever sold out game at the Madejski Stadium generated the biggest ever crowd of 20,589, with a filled away end of Bournemouth fans hoping to celebrate stealing a play-off position. There were definate gaps in the North Stand which suggested some fans hadn't bothered turning up, but it made no difference. The Madejski Stadium was approaching full and was in party mood with Reading guaranteed to finish third in the table whatever the result. A pre-match show by two army helicopters hovering above the pitch before delivering the match ball to John Madejski was an impressive sight. The stage was set. The game itself matched the atmosphere as both sides battled out a decent match. It might not have been one of the best games ever played at the Madejski Stadium, but it certainly ranked quite high, with plenty of entertainment from both sides.
Reading started with Keith Jones called back into the middle of midfield alongside Parkinson. McIntyre was no where to be seen but Caskey was back on the bench and Harper claimed another start in the first eleven. Right from the start it looked like it might be a repeat of the game played at Dean Court last month - with Reading going straight on the attack only to conceed an early goal. Bournemouth scored on the break after a fast move down the left got the better of the Reading defence. The ball found its way into the middle of the Reading box after a cross from the left wasn't cleared, and bizarrely the ball managed to avoid Viveash and Whitbread in the middle. Elliot seemed to have all the time he wanted in the box to drive it to the right of Whitehead and into the back of the net. 0-1, and the Bournemouth fans went mental.
To Reading's credit, after the disappointment of last week's defeat at Colchester United that ended our automatic promotion dreams, we went straight on the attack. Butler and Cureton looked deadly up front together once again, and it seemed like just a matter of time before one of them would pull the Royals level. Butler set up Cureton for a shot which was blocked, and that was followed up by Butler charging into the area to go flying over after a challenge from a Bournemouth defender. Butler managed to prod the ball through to Cureton but he couldn't get the shot in as the ball was cleared away. Reading probably had quite a strong case for the penalty as Butler went over, but didn't seem to protest too much.
Meanwhile Graeme Murty was playing a complete blinder coming forward from his full back position. Recently he's been critisised for failing to get back, but today put in some excellent challenges to win the ball back as Bournemouth went on the counter attack. He slipped up a couple of times, but otherwise was playing like a man possessed. There's no way Murty could be faulted for effort. Down the wing he was working hard and managed to get in a couple of dangerous crosses that could have created a goal. One swung nicely away from the keeper but there was no one waiting in the area like there probably should have been. Moments after that Murty almost found himself on the score sheet as the ball dropped well outside the area. Murty hit it well, but it fell just over the crossbar.
Martin Butler, having won the club's player of the season award just before kick-off, almost grabbed one with a similar long range effort that dropped onto the top of the net, the wrong side of the crossbar. Reading were looking by far the better side at this point with some fast determined attacking football. We might have been a goal down but we were playing it around exactly the way we should be up front - plenty of nice passing moves at pace and some service to the front men. We look so much better when we're not playing the long ball game. Bournemouth were resorting to long hoofs up the pitch the clear the danger every now and again, and it was Reading that looked much the more likely side.
Bournemouth's long hoofs might not have been pretty, but they appeared effective against a poorly organised Reading defence. The second goal was just the kind of goal that if conceeded in the play-offs could end our promotion chances. Perhaps it's good to get these defensive mistakes out of the way so the defence can prepare themselves properly for the games against Wigan. The second goal came from nearly nothing as the ball was pumped forward. Whitbread and Viveash both went for it, and both could have got it, but they ended up confusing each other and they both missed it - leaving a clear run on the Reading goal for Bournemouth forward Defoe. Defoe wasn't going to waste that kind of opportunity, collected the ball on the right, took it to the edge of the area and then fired it past Whitehead to make it 0-2.
The Bournemouth end exploded. Wigan were drawing at home - the ideal result for Bournemouth - and their side looked set for a win. They were in great voice until two minutes later when Butler gave the home fans plenty of reason to celebrate. Reading won a free kick a few yards away from the edge of the area. Butler stood to the left of the free kick in the middle and Igoe pushed it wide. Butler let rip with his left leg to send the ball flying at a million miles an hour into the roof of the net. 1-2.
More defensive problems for Reading saw Bournemouth retake their two goal advantage with a superb solo effort from Elliot for his second of the game. Elliot took the ball down the right and seemed to just walk around the entire Reading defence unchallanged before working his way to the edge of the area and sticking it home. 1-3. A great goal from the Bournemouth player who showed more than a bit of skill, but massively disappointing defending from the Royals. Any one of five Reading players could have made a challenge before he working into a shooting position - but no one got even close to a tackle.
The rest of the half drifted away, and despite some great attacking from the Royals we were looking second best to a Bournemouth side that could have gone on, at that point, to meet us in the play-offs. After the break it failed to look much different. The game seemed to be drifting away from Reading with few goalscoring chances being created at the start of the half. The East Stand seemed more entertained by winding the Bournemouth fans up with fictitious chants about Wigan goals. Wigan were in fact still 0-0 - and it would end that way - Bournemouth just needed to hang onto the win at the Madejski Stadium. A rather large chap in the Bournemouth end exposed his rather large belly to the delight of the East Stand, and for quite a while the entertainment on the pitch seemed non-existant.
Cureton looked like he'd scored after sliding home a rebound from a Keith Jones shot - but it was strangely ruled out for offside. But it was a rare piece of action in a period where the game had cooled off. Thankfully, the game returned fully to life with twenty minutes left. Reading won a free kick right on the edge of the Bournemouth box. Straight away Caskey whipped off his tracksuit as Reading prepared to take off Keith Jones, who had had a determined game in midfield. The ball was in perfect Caskey territory. The crowd knew that Caskey would be taking it, and we had a sneaky suspicion he'd score from there. Jones went off, Caskey ran over and almost instantly the ball was flying off his boot and into the top of the net. A typical, but fantastic, Caskey free kick. 2-3.
And from that moment onwards the game didn't let up as Reading went on the hunt for the equaliser. The away end continued to cheer their team on, but they knew that a goal from the Royals was almost certain. We won corner after corner, but only managed a couple of weak corners straight into the keeper's arms from the right. But we continued to go on the attack. With Rougier, Caskey and Forster all on the pitch we were playing some great passing football. Caskey followed up his goal with a couple of great balls to feet across the park and was rewarded with chants of "give him a contract" from the Reading fans. Time was running out when Cureton got in a decent shot that was well saved by the keeper. Moments later we made up for the earlier poor corners with some great ones taken from the right. Caskey showed that he can take great corners as well as free kicks - eventually providing the one that led to the equaliser - Forster scoring at the far post with just two minutes left. 3-3, and the home fans erupted. "We are going up!"
Bournemouth were devestated - they now had to score to make the play-offs.
A couple of minutes into injury time and it looked like the away side had grabbed
the winner as the ball was lobbed towards the top left corner of the Reading
net with Whitehead beaten. Just as it dropped Murty was on the line to head
it over the crossbar for a corner. Bournemouth couldn't make their corner count
and it was all over. 3-3. The home fans were more than happy - the season was
over for the Bournemouth fans. The second half comeback and the final result
will be more than enough to re-build the confidence ready for the play-offs,
but the defensive problems displayed throughout the first half will be more
than a worry. Wigan are next.
Following report by Neil Cole
One of the most exciting games of the season was a fitting way to end our most successful league campaign for six years, as Reading fought back to get a draw and end Bournemouths play-off hopes. In theory the game meant nothing for Reading, with third place guaranteed a long time before kick-off. Yet the team played as we hoped they would, with plenty of effort and some good football. Poor defending in the first half looked like costing us the game, but the second half performance was a credit to the club. At final whistle, the majority of the record attendance went home happy, but with a few thousand Bournemouth fans devastated at the way the game had ended.
Keith Jones was recalled to the starting eleven, with James Harper moving out wide on the left and taking Jim McIntyres position. The back four remained the same, and with Whitbreads position at the club confirmed, it is likely this is the defence that will start the play-off matches against Wigan next week. However, several uncharacteristic mistakes in the first half saw Bournemouth lead 3-1 at the break, and apparently heading for sixth place and the final play-off position.
Reading had started the game brightly, and it was clear they were doing their best not to play the long-ball stuff to which we have recently become accustomed. Yet some shambolic defending gifted the visitors an early lead. We had four chances to clear the ball after a Bournemouth corner, yet somehow it only got as far as Wade Elliott on the edge of the box, who had far too much time to drill the ball into the goal.
Reading responded well, and when Butler was brought down inside the Cherries box it seemed we had won a penalty. However, nothing was given and Bournemouth were back on the attack. It wasnt long before they doubled their lead, as Whitbread and Viveash stood still as Jermaine Defoe raced behind them onto a through ball. Defoe is one of the divisions best finishers, and once he had found the space he made no mistake in making it 2-0 to Bournemouth.
The scoreline didnt really reflect the game fairly, as Reading had plenty of possession and looked dangerous on the attack. It was Martin Butler who got the Royals back into the game, with probably the best of his 26 goals this season. After winning a free-kick outside the area, Sammy Igoe rolled the ball to his left. Butlers shot was hit perfectly, as he fired the ball into the top corner to silence the Bournemouth fans behind the goal.
After taking the initiative with the goal, Reading managed to let it slip soon afterwards as Bournemouth scored again. Elliott was once again given loads of time and space, and he strolled into the Reading box and finished well to make it 3-1 to the Cherries. With Wigan only drawing at home, Bournemouth were looking good to finish in 6th and provide Reading with tough opposition in next weeks play-offs.
Yet Reading achieved an excellent comeback in the second half, and the performance after the break was just what we needed to go into the play-offs full of confidence. The most encouraging part of the second half was the performance of Darren Caskey, whose appearance as a substitute changed the game in Readings favour. His first touch was incredible, as he emerged from the bench just as Reading won a free-kick on the edge of the area. Caskey strolled up towards the ball, and it was clear what was in his mind. Barely even pausing from his run from the bench, he hit the ball perfectly and curled it into the net with the keeper nowhere near. That gave Reading the impetus they needed, and this time they didnt throw it away.
Jamie Cureton had already had a goal disallowed, after he had followed up well from a saved Keith Jones effort. Forster and Rougier were brought on from the bench, replacing Igoe and Parkinson. With such an attacking line-up on the field, there were clearly going to be more goals in the game. Reading were the most likely, as their constant pressure earned a series of corners. Yet they left it late, as the equaliser finally came in the 88th minute. A Caskey corner found its way through to substitute Nicky Forster, who prodded in his first of the season to ruin the day of about 4000 Bournemouth fans. The point wasnt enough for the Cherries, who finish the season in heart-breaking 7th place. Forsters goal was well-received at Wigan, and the final whistle brought pitch invasions at both the Madejski and the JJB.
The fans were cleared off the pitch to allow the Reading players a well deserved lap of honour, but everyone knows the hard work is still to come. The league table shows that we are the best team of the four in the play-offs, and with our attack force the envy of the division we are favourites to claim a place in Division One. The potential is there for us to take over the JJB next week, and a decent Reading following could spur the side on to a massive victory, and see us take a big step towards the First Division.
Post Match Opinions
At half time it was head in hands time. A defence that had forgotten
the basics and previous reliables as Viveash, Whitbread and Parkinson
hardly there. Harper very poor, even Whitehead performed no miracles as
we have come to expect. Two goals down against the most in form side in
the division, facing them in the playoffs again, season over. And then
we had the second half. What did Pardew throw at half time? Tactical changes,
gritted teeth determination to fight to the end and by the time the game
finished I was disappointed with the draw. A Bournemouth side with everything
to play for and they were played off the park in that second half. So,
which Reading team will I see in the next two matches?
I think that this was one of the more entertaining matches of the
season, but I'm worried about the playoffs. Reading are still getting
some of the simple stuff wrong which will be essential to our survival
should we win the playoffs. I would also like to thank Jason Lunnon for
his great crowd work yet again, particularly when he got me to stand up
and start a song. He got everyone going in the second half and it seemed
to be reflected on the pitch. But there was a real let down at the end
of the game from the Reading fans who had been superb throughout the match.
I thought the behaviour towards the Bournemouth fans was disgraceful,
with chants of "cheerio", and i think that they should have
been applauded for thier support and passion which was shown throughout.
The Reading players put the crowd to shame when they displayed the sort
of behaviour we should have done by making a point of going to the Bournemouth
supporters and deliberatley clapping them!
Great entertainment in the end, and two superb strikes, one from Butler,
and one from Caskey gave us some comfort, after some awful defending threatened
to embarrass us. What I still can't understand is the apparent lack of
self belief. It took the swagger of Caskey to score with his first kick,
to make the rest of the team realise that perhaps we weren't there just
to roll over and let Bournemouth take the inititative into the play offs.
When that belief surfaced, we showed that we are probably the best technical
and talented team in the division. (Millwall excluded perhaps). Pardew
and Allen must motivate the team better if we are to reach Cardiff, and
have any chance of promotion.
After his performance today, Caskey MUST start against Wigan.
What a game! For all the wrong reasons ... It must be obvious to all
that there is a deficiency in the Rs defensive department .. not just
the backs but in the ball winning capabilities of the midfield. To say
that the Rs defence went AWOL for the three Bournemouth goals is an understatement
... they emigrated, more like. The chant of the Bournemouth fans "Can
we play you every week?" was spot on... they hadn't seen this many gifts
since last Christmas!
What an afternoon! This was one of the most entertaining games seen
at the Mad House. The festive mood started before the kick off. Butler
deservedly picking up player of the season, the chairman (and don't we
owe him a lot) getting the ball from a helicopter. The party atmosphere
continued as our defence were incredibly generous mood as they gifted
an early goal. Our midfield was clearly not balanced and that did not
help our confused defence. we conceded three goals and I can't remember
Whitehead having to make a save all game. The first goal Murty slipped
and there was no cover as the ball came in to the box.
Those of us in the away corner of the East Stand witnessed the biggest
2 bellies in the ground. The Bournemouth fan who exposed his mighty blubber
deserves credit for his sporting gesture. It was huge!! Both sets of fans
appreciated it. Years of training and careful over-eating must have gone
in to develop such a physique. This was in response to Mr Fatman, the
Reading fan, who is becoming the new director of music for the East Stand
choir. Once again he spent most of the match urging others to sing. Does
he watch the game?
Without doubt one of the most exciting moments ever seen at the Madejski...
the helicopters coming in before the game! Talk about hairs on the back
of the neck standing up! As my mate Buzz was shouting at the Bournemouth
fans, "you'd never see that at your dump of a ground". I'd said after
we got that result somehow at Bournemouth, that god help us if we needed
something against them in the last game of the season, and so it proved.
By the end of the first half I was gutted. Bournemouth was banging
it up the middle, and their number 10 was winning it everytime, and getting
it to "Deadly Defoe". Our defence lost the plot and any commitment. Parkinson
was very quiet. Jones and Harper made no impression in midfiled.But after
Murty showed some sloppy play leading to the first goal, he managed to
take no prisoners. When Caskey, Rougier and Forster came on, Reading woke
up and Bournemouth slowed down. Caskey showed both teams how to play the
game, what a pro. Rougier done his dancing feet down the line, and Forster
gave us new idea's up front. Before the play-off's, Reading need to sit
down and watch the video of the game. First half WRONG. Second half, Division
One next season. Everybody deserves it. Play Caskey and not lightweight
Caskey IN! What a turn around when he came on. Suddenly we had deft touches,
vision, subtlety and skill with place kicks. Some of his through balls were
sublime-and did you notice how Harper improved as soon as he had Caskey
alongside him? I like Keith Jones-an honest hardworking pro if ever there
was one but he is not a creator like SuperDaz. Pardew should give Caskey a
contract and should be brave enough to build the team around him to
compensate for his shortcomings.
Good to see the Reading fans applauding the Bournemouth players off the
pitch. Great end to a great game!
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