(HT: 0-0, AGG: 1-3, Orient through to round two)
Reading Scorers: -
Orient Scorers: Brkovic (51 mins), Christie (63 mins)
Date: 5 September 2000
Attendance: 4,337

Reading: Whitehead, Robinson, Viveash, Hunter (Mackie), Gurney, Parkinson (Smith), Caskey (McIntyre), Hodges, Butler, Cureton, Igoe.
Subs not used: Mackie, Ashdown.

Leyton Orient: Bayes, Lockwood, Smith, McGhee, Harris, Brkovic, Christie, Walschaerts, Martin, Dorrian, Watts.
Subs: Barrett, Downer, McElholm, Griffiths, Brissett.

Bookings: Cureton, Robinson (Reading); Dorrian, Griffiths, Watts (Leyton Orient)

This was another story of poor defending at the back and chances not being taken up front. Add to that a superior all round performance from third division Leyton Orient, and Reading were, in the end, well beaten. It's easy to come straight out with the old cliches about concentrating on the league and how great it is to get out of the cup at the first stage, but that can't hide the fact this was another major disappointment in front of 4,000 loyal home fans. It was clear during the first half that both teams were out for the win, but it was Leyton Orient who managed it away from home by taking their chances in front of their 300 or so travelling fans to send them home happy. Sammy Igoe will be more disappointed than the fans after another sparkling performance down the right wing. Had Butler and Cureton taken the chances Igoe gifted them it could have been a different story at half time.

However if Leyton Orient had taken their early chances it could have also been even more of a shock result. It took Reading a good five minutes to get the ball out of their own half after kick off, and even longer to put an end to the dangerous chances the away side were creating every time they came forward. An early cross from the right round a player unmarked after somehow shaking off both Viveash and Hunter in the middle, thankfully his header didn't have the power and was an easy catch for Whitehead. Moments later Whitehead was guilty of another major cock-up that could have cost an early goal. He came out to clear the ball and only managed to hammer it into the on-coming Orient forward. It could have been another gift goal like the one against Stoke, but the ball had enough power to fly out of play wide of Whitehead's goal. Orient stuck over a couple more crosses that caused panic in the Reading defence, and after the onslaught Reading started to look better and better for the rest of the half. After twenty minutes we won a whole load of corners and it seemed to be the start of a revival.

Although Orient probably should have been a goal ahead already it was a miracle that Reading didn't have the lead by half time. Sammy Igoe, given another start, was stunning down the right wing, beating men all over the place, showing amazing pace, and showing off loads of clever little touches to control the ball and pass it on in one. Leyton Orient had a similar player but Igoe showed him up by his entirely unselfish play - always trying to send the ball over to someone in a scoring position. Cureton could have scored after Igoe whipped over a great cross from the right wing, Cureton's headed sailed wide though.

Butler was given the two most simple of chances. Firstly Caskey provided Butler the ball after breaking down the left and crossing into the middle of the box. Caskey took a while to provide it with Butler in acres of space, but Butler still had plenty of time to drive it home but instead took too long and drove a weak shot along the ground to the keeper. A few minutes later Igoe set Butler up again after winning the ball deep in the Reading half and storming forward down the centre of the pitch passing players as he went. Igoe touched it forward to Butler again in the centre of the box - and again his shot was a simple save for the keeper.

It was a pity half time had to come with Reading looking so dangerous, and then it was enivitable that we wouldn't carry it on in the second half. The second half belonged to Orient who took their two chances to go two goals ahead and were then never really troubled by Reading. With a two goal margin there was only ever going to be one result - and the away side could easily have added a third. At half time the disappointing Barry Hunter was replaced by Mackie in the centre of defence. It must have been a tricky decision for Pardew though because Viveash was probably having a worse game after a couple of poor back headers that could have set Orient free. If Hunter and Viveash were having another poor game then words can not describe poor Andy Gurney's performance at right back.

Ricky Newman had done a decent job at Port Vale on Saturday in the league at right back after being prefered to Gurney. I assume this was Gurney's chance to fight for his place in the side - but he failed miserably. Gurney was beaten twice allowing Orient to set up the two goals. First on 51 minutes when the ball was crossed from the left into the centre of the box. Whitehead failed to come for it - when he probably should have done - which set up the close range header to make it 0-1. Just over ten minutes later and it was a similar story. Gurney and the winger were stood for what seemed like hours in the corner of the pitch after the Orient winger took it to the line... eventually he just squeezed past Gurney who looked like he might bring him down for the penalty and knocked the ball into the middle. For a moment it looked like we were going to stick it in our own net before Whitehead stuck himself in the way, however the rebound was fired into the roof of the net off a helpless Whitehead. 0-2, and game over.

Reading looked the most uncomfortable that they had done all game at two goals down, Gurney looked nervous every time he was near the ball, Whitehead kept hoofing it out of play under no pressure at all and we resorted to long hoofs up the pitch instead of working it forward on the ground. Gurney hoofed a long range shot well over the bar. We won a free kick just outside the area - ideal for Caskey, except he'd just been replaced by McIntyre after another uneventful performance, and Hodges couldn't produce a Caskey special. Orient were happy to let Reading have a bit of possession and do little with it. Towards the end Orient could have made it 0-3 with a couple of well produced chances that Reading could take lessons from. Whitehead attempted to redeem himself by holding onto a decent shot made from just inside the box that was well on target - and the home fans streamed out leaving Orient to celebrate a memorable victory.

Twenty minutes of decent play by Reading during the ninety just isn''t good enough - it's already becoming a pattern and the season is just a few weeks old. Up front Butler looks rusty. At the back we have some serious problems with Hunter and Viveash failing to comunicate. Robinson didn't do too badly, but Gurney ended up getting plenty of stick from the home fans for his performance. Whitehead will also find himself with serious competition in a few weeks when Howie returns from injury. We need to bounce back with a win on Saturday.


Following report by guest reporter, Neil Cole:

Reading again showed their infuriating habit of only playing to the standard of the opposition, as we lowered ourselves to Division Three standard and were comfortably beaten by a decent Leyton Orient side.

This was a problem last season, as we struggled to get past Plymouth, Barnet, Halifax and Orient once again in the various cup competitions. Yet the infuriating part of this problem is that we usually raise our game against higher league opposition, and I wouldn’t have bet against us giving Newcastle a good game in the second round.

There could be no excuses of fielding an under strength team, as there was only one change to the side that beat Port Vale away on Saturday. Andy Gurney was given a reprieve after being dropped on Saturday, playing at right back instead of the injured Ricky Newman.

Gurney has had a dreadful season so far, and he was unable to improve on this tonight as he was run ragged by an inventive and surprisingly positive Orient attack. It was no surprise that both Orient goals came from crosses from the left, as even a third division winger was able to beat Gurney time and time again.

Orient started the game in a positive manner, and they were clearly encouraged by the game at Brisbane Road in which they had outplayed the Royals in almost every department. Phil Whitehead was forced into a couple of early saves, and the frustration amongst the Reading players showed with early bookings for Jamie Cureton and Matt Robinson.

Towards the end of the first half, Reading came more into the game and it seemed like Orient had lost their chance to seize the advantage. The Royals midfield, notably Sammy Igoe and Lee Hodges, started to show what they are capable of, and created a number of chances from which we should really have taken the lead. Good work by Igoe and a perfectly timed pass put Martin Butler through with only the keeper to beat, but his tame effort was easily saved by the keeper. More frustration was to follow, as Gurney picked out an unmarked Cureton, who headed over when it seemed easier to score. Hodges himself also had a shot from 30 yards which flew narrowly wide of the goal.

Half-time came with Reading the clear favourites to go on and win the tie. Yet sadly, the second half was a different story, and Orient went on to deservedly win the match. The Reading attack was non-existent in the second half, and aside from one Darren Caskey half-chance they failed to create a real opportunity.

The first Orient goal came from a weak header by Brkovic which somehow evaded Phil Whitehead in the Reading goal. It was 2-0 just ten minutes later, as chaos in the Reading goalmouth led to an unmarked Christie firing in from 12 yards. We all hoped for a Stoke-style comeback, but it wasn’t to be as Orient claimed the lucrative prize of two matches against Newcastle in the second round.

There was very little encouragement to be taken from this performance. Darren Caskey was again anonymous on the left of midfield, and Andy Gurney was weak defensively on the right. The strikers looked bizarrely short of confidence, and Butler & Cureton should really have buried the chances they were given.

Alan Pardew is going to have to have another re-think before the visit of Brentford to the Madejski on Saturday. This is a much tougher proposition, but with injuries to Hunter, Robinson and Mackie it is likely to be a weak back four that takes the field against the Bees.

If Reading are to take anything from Saturday’s game, they are going to have to show a lot more passion and commitment than was on display tonight.

Post Match Opinions

Igoe was brilliant, deserved to be on the winning side. Played with inspiration & put in plenty of perspiration as well. Other than Butler (St Martin, chaser of lost causes) who ran all night after nothing balls no-one else seemed willing to work for their walkover win that they obviously felt was their rite against lower league opposition.
Even the ref tried to help out by sending one of their forwards off with 5 mins left - a foul yes, but a 2nd yellow?
Gurney was the worst I've seen him - the sooner Murty/Newman/my gran are fit the better. Mackie looked unsure when he came on, Matt Robinson had an off day, Viveash & Hunter (first half) were both OK as was Whitehead In midfield Caskey had a poor game by the standards he set last year, Parky was OK - even tried passing a bit, Hodges had a couple of good shots. Smith & McIntyre came on & matched the general low/middling standards set by rest of side.
Cureton was quiet but we can't expect him to score every time he starts.
Orient thoroughly deserved to win. Apart from last 10 of first half they totally outclassed us. Hope they get a big draw in next round to show our lads what we could've won.
The consolation is there were no points at stake.


I was one of the four thousand odd crowd who witnessed another inept performance by the Royals, even worse than against Stoke, but this time there was no lucky penalty and last minute goal to save our blushes. In my opinion, even though Martin Butler missed a glorious chance in the first half we thoroughly deserved to be beaten by lesser opposition who's whole team probably cost less than Butler himself. My main gripe with Reading in the last two seasons is they refuse to play with a left footed player on the left wing, last night Caskey switched from right wing to the left and was just as out of water as on the right. His performances this season have been very poor, but then he's probably got the hump being stuck on the wing and never given the ball. I believe Pardew reckons Caskey is too lightweight to play in the centre and he's frightened of dropping him so he finds a place for him somewhere on the park. Caskey may be overweight and bottle out of tackling but he can pass the ball to Reading players, on the deck, which most players struggle with. My second point is I decided to sit in the West Stand for a change and next to the dug out to listen to their comments and throughout the game I never once heard Pardew or Mad Dog shout instructions for us to pass the ball around so they must have been happy with the football played. All Mad Dog kept on shouting were instructions for our players to hammer their opponents and the keeper to kick it to Parky instead of Igoe.
To sum up we were very poor with the exception of Igoe who showed glimpses that he looks a decent player and the keeper who was sound, Butler worked hard but he must be very frustrated with the service he's getting. I would also like someone to let me know why our centre halfs cannot deal with balls in the air when they are both six foot plus? I refuse to make any comments on Gurney his performances say it all!

-- Towner

The defence is very poor. Viveash is slow, and without purpose, and Hunter seems to have lost any finesse that may have once been there.
Let us hope that Adie Williams gets back to fitness before its too late. We cannot afford to leak goals like this, and have any real prospect of promotion.
Why do we persist with Andy Gurney? It isn't his fault that he is not good enough, but surely Alan Pardew and Martin Allen witness the same inept performances that we do week in, week out. Igoe seems to be getting better and better, and Cureton is allowed an offday, but we need to create more if the strikers are to succeed.

-- Kevin

Here we go again (and again, and again) ! Another season of huge expectation met with indifferent performances on the pitch - to put it politely ! As we sat there, we were surrounded by moans of 'why do we keep spending our good money to watch this stuff' and 'relegation battle here we come'. A bit premature perhaps, but it's been real tough being a Reading supporter these last few years post-McGhee.
This was a largely dreadful performance punctuated by 10-20 minutes of good stuff where we looked, just looked mind you, that we might start taking them apart. But then they were inconsiderate enough to go and score. After that, it was all over. More poor defending coupled with a useful Orient team playing attractive football, and we were dead and buried. If only Butler had put those chances away, we deluded ourselves, things may have been different. But we have to admit - they thoroughly deserved their victory.
There were a few positive items - Sammy Igoe being the main one. If he keeps this up, he could turn out to be a real star turn. But I continue to fail to take any team seriously that believes that Andy Gurney deserves a place. Division 3 or Sunday league maybe - but not in a second division team that has pretensions of going higher. But what are we talking about again ?? We can't even give a third division team a decent match ! I was beginning to think this 'hoof and hope' football was encouraged by the management, so I was pleased to hear Pardew deny that on the radio this morning. But it was interesting to hear Phil Parkes on BBC Berks (who is he anyway ?? if he's not either the ex-Wolves or ex-QPR goalie - who the hell is the guy??) accidentally say that Reading are a long way from being a decent team, and then try and recover by saying 'some way' instead.
We moan and groan yet again.
When will it ever get better? Is Gurney just part of some horrible nightmare ? Why does Madjeski think that people will spend good money to watch this tripe ? But wait ! Yes- we have a season ticket, and yes we'll be there again Saturday. Maybe, just maybe...

-- Dazza

The embarrassing gulf in class evident between the teams last night - with Reading being totally outplayed - points to the tactical incompetence of the management team. With arguably the best (and most expensive) squad in Division 2 the team played like a bunch of strangers.
The tactic of hoofing the ball towards Butler's head in the hope that he might flick it into the path of Cureton was completely ineffective as Orients defenders won the ball every time however this was employed consistently for the whole ninety minutes.
Although Butler missed a couple of decent chances his role as the target point for an aerial bombardment hardly played to his strengths. Presumably lured by the promise of free flowing attacking (and hopefully Division 1) football Butler must have wondered what was happening as long ball after long ball was pumped towards his head. Further evidence of tactical ineptitude was the substitutions with Hunter (shaky) being swapped for Mackie (shakier) and Caskey for McIntyre. Despite a slightly off colour display, Caskey represents our most creative player and it's high time he was played through the middle of mid-field. The other thing that really winds me up is the near post corner routine - I may be in the dark ages but I was always taught to attack the ball running from the edge of the box.
The tactics currently employed have four attackers stood static on or near the goal line and blatantly don't work, it may be okay to use as a variation but not every time! Although it's too early in the season to be too negative this is where the last two seasons have been effectively decided.
Given that further investment in players is unlikely it's now up to management (Pardew & Allen) to blend the individuals into a consistently winning team. The problem is that at the moment the only consistent attribute is the inconsistency!

-- Henry P (A long suffering Royal)

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