READING 0 BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION 0 (Half Time: 0-0)
Brighton Scorers: -
9 March 2002
Reading: Whitehead, Murty, Mackie, Williams, Shorey, Igoe, Parkinson, Hughes, Salako (Tyson 85), Rougier (Henderson 66), Cureton. Subs not used: Ashdown, Viveash, Harper.
Brighton and Hove: Kuipers, Watson, Cullip, Morgan, Mayo, Lewis, Carpenter, Hart, Brooker, Zamora, Steele (Pethick 87). Subs not used: Oatway, Jones, Virgo, Webb.
Bookings: Hughes, Parkinson (Reading); Carpenter, Zamora (Brighton).
After fearing the worst when the ball hit the back of the Reading net deep in injury time, the draw seemed a reasonable result. Brighton winning this fixture would have seemed like a disaster with the championship race well into the final straight. The draw, Reading's third from three league games, keeps the Royals five points clear of second placed Brighton and Hove Albion. After dropping six points from three games the chasing pack have closed the gap, but this draw still leaves Reading with a massive advantage over the rest of the Division. It would have been a difference story if that dramatic late "goal" from the visitors had counted, but luckily for the Royals it was ruled out for a foul on Phil Whitehead, and so the game ended 0-0 and the points were shared. We had the referee to thank with the assistant referee's flag staying down. With this kind of luck we can win the league.
Reading welcomed back Adrian Williams in the centre of defence to pair up with John Mackie - and the Reading defence did very well throughout. Brighton have become known as a bit of a one man side with Zamora stealing all the headlines - but today they certainly weren't. Reading dealt with Zamora with relative ease. He rarely threatened, got caught off-side more than a few times, and generally looked like nothing special. The rest of the Brighton team combined did cause quite a threat and could have done a job on Reading during the second half when the game finally opened up. But Reading caused a bit of trouble in Brighton's defence as well - and the game could have gone either way when it developed into an end to end encounter.
The first half was largely forgettable. Neither side wanted to make a mistake and it was all just a case of getting rid of the ball whenever it was in your half. As a result Reading had two shots to Brighton's one and the away side had two corners to Reading's single one. There wasn't a huge amount of goalmouth action to get one of the Madejski Stadium's largest ever crowds, of just over 22,000, excited. Reading were being let down in the final third of the pitch when the final ball would fail to find it's target, however to our credit we were working very very hard. Parkinson picked up a yellow card for taking out Zamora, and Zamora earnt a yellow card himself for taking out Graeme Murty. In the second half Carpenter was lucky not to leave the pitch with a red card after sything down Phil Parkinson in the middle of the pitch, however it wasn't a dirty encounter overall, just a very tough game with neither side wanting to let the game slip.
During the second half Reading nearly took the lead after Henderson put pressure
on the Brighton defence, forcing a header from the defender that needed an excellent
save from the Brighton keeper. Down the other end Brighton looked to have pulled
ahead when Phil Parkinson sent a header onto the crossbar with Whitehead beaten
by his own defender. Jamie Cureton and John Salako both had chances to score,
before Henderson met a cross with a decent header that wasn't far over the bar.
Nathan Tyson looked impressive during a late appearance as substitute. He went
on one lovely little run that showed the kind of potential he has, but his one
header towards goal went the wrong direction.
Following report from John Wells
Although this match didn't produce much in the way of inspired football there was so much at stake it was never boring. Any neutrals in the ground might have thought otherwise. Before the game I could not see where the goals were coming from. I could not see how we could put enough pressure on the Brighton defence without the pace of Forster to create a goal. A draw was likely result, and in the end, probably a fair result although Reading had slightly more possession overall. Caution was the name of the game today as both sides were determined not to slip up. For the third game in a row we could have lost and could have won near the end. I was sure we had won it when Mayo, under extreme pressure from Henderson, almost beat Kuipers with a header. At the other end Parky did succeed in beating his own keeper but his effort hit the bar. Then in stoppage time I was sure Brighton had scored a legitimate goal but it was disallowed for a foul on Whitehead. So in the end it was not a bad day considering Stoke lost at Wycombe.
I thought Pardew's selection was absolutely right again. Rougier had to start with Fozzy not available, and Viveash would not have coped with Zamora's pace, so I was relieved to see Williams replace him. His substitutions were also correct and well timed. He was also right to 'unleash' Rougier for the whole game. He has not looked at his best since his suspension. Henderson provided much more of a threat when he came on. Reading have wide players capable of producing good crosses and Henderson is the only player strong enough in the air to convert them into goals. There were times when Rougier seemed reluctant to get into the box leaving a heavy burden on Cureton. In his short spell on the pitch Tyson made one promising run when his skill and pace took him past two Brighton defenders. I was pleased to see Cureton continuing to compete so well for the ball. I just wish he would time his runs better - he ruined several good moves in his haste to get past the last defender.
The defence was very secure again today and then coped well with the threat of Zamora who had destroyed the Royals in the away game. Murty and Shorey are so comfortable in possession they take an awful lot of pressure of the team by holding the ball and using it well, and Mackie and Williams must be the best pair of centre backs in this division.
I thought we were slightly lacking in the centre of midfield today. Parky and Hughes worked hard and played a big part in containing Brighton but they both lack the ability to open up defences with a telling pass.
Three points from three games this week is not ideal, but games are running
out for the chasing pack. Although we have some tough games coming up, we are
very hard to beat these days, and that is what really counts at this stage of
the season. I hope it is only the championship that is at stake when we visit
Brentford on the last day of the season and not an automatic promotion place
- my nerves would not take it!
Post Match Opinions
In the days leading up to this game there has been a substantial amount
of talk and hype about Bobby Zamora and what he has to offer. Yet today
it has to be said that the Reading defence faired rather well to keep
him quiet. One moment that will stick in quite a few people's minds was
when Nicky Shorey was attempting to hack the ball up the left touchline
but was under pressure from the big, lanky Zamora. Shorey absolutely milked
it by showing great skill to dumbfound him, backheeling the ball to his
right and then clearing to safety. But the Reading defender who showed
the most consistency when dealing with Zamora was John Mackie without
a doubt. He had him in his pocket for the full 90 minutes, never giving
the former Bristol Rovers man a spare inch.
With Cambridge and Bournemouth missing late penalties and Parkie's
own goal attempt crashing against the bar with all lost, are the gods
trying to tell us something?
At the start of the game both teams would have settled for a point
and that fact showed in their performances. The first half was eminently
forgettable as fear controlled the actions of most of the players. It
even controlled the crowd who seemed reluctant to commit themselves in
a wholehearted manner because there was always that worry of what would
happen if the other side scored.
I wasn't over impressed by the referee.
This was probably a better result for the Royals than Brighton (especially
with Stoke losing) as it means we're still clear at the top and one game
nearer to promotion. Although Brentford are putting together a good run
it's still in our hands. After the win at Wycombe I would have been very
pleased with a 0-0 against Brighton however I was anticipating a bit more
than 2 points from the games with Cambridge and Bournemouth.
Some negative points:-
A great crowd and atmosphere. The crowd were really up for it but
were the players? The game developed into a midfield stalemate with neither
side wanting to lose. I think Mackie and Williams were again outstanding
and totally snuffed out the threat of the much hyped Zamora - Totenham
scouts if you were at the game forget it and look elsewhere. Cureton tried
hard but with little support from Rougier and I was pleased when he was
taken off as he really didn't do a lot, didn't look particularly interested
and yet again did not have a shot or header on goal. We need a lift after
three draws and with the transfer deadline looming a couple of new faces
for the final promotion psuh would not come amiss. Parky looked tired
yesterday, so the acquisition of Watson would be a welcome boost to the
side. A draw against Brighton was not a disaster but looking at the tough
run in compared with some of our rivals, three points at Chesterfield
is a must.
I thought a draw was just about right but was amazed how a team leading
the division with a nice little points buffer looked so scared of the
away side. Reading's obsession with watching Zamora blunted their own
attacking ambitions,but I suppose that is the best compliment you can
pay a player.One real save made by the away goalie does not show to me
a side who really believed they could win yesterday. After the mauling
at Withdean perhaps that was understandable.
Just a few thoughts now that, on Sunday lunchtime, my heart is no
longer in my mouth after that late Seagulls effort. Brighton were a very
strong side - we have to recognise that. Especially in the closing 15
minutes they looked really dangerous. But the first 20 minutes of the
second half showed how we can hold our own against anyone. A pity, however,
that we didn't look sharper up front. Cureton + Rougier doesn't quite
seem to click and I think it should be Fozzy plus one other: it's heartening
that he should be available again next weekend. Watch out Chesterfield!
Two other things. First, why does Curo continually get caught offside?
Brighton did play the offside trap quite well, but he needs to concentrate
on this as a lot of potentially good breaks went begging because the linesman's
flag was up. Secondly, Mackie was outstanding. He has come on in leaps
and bounds and is already my choice for player of the season. Especially
when partnering Adie at the back, he looks rock solid. (To be fair, similar
things can also be said for Shorey, another surprise package. What a good
pair of attacking full backs he and Murty are. Also, Igoe was outstanding
in midfield too but he does occasionally get a bit petulant, which he
will need to watch if he's not going to keep on picking up silly yellow
cards.) 7 games to go - URZ...!
The game is now water under the bridge with all the comments from
the press and Pards firmly in our minds. Can we get a comment on the Clubs
rather odd statement that all the tickets were sold for the Brighton game.
The official capacity for the stadium is 24,200. Take away 22,009 that
attended the game and you are left with 2,191 empty seats. Lets allow
1,000 seats for stewards and the fact that the Brighton fans are vandals
and would act violently, and you are left with 1,191 empty seats. Lets
be really stupid are sell the seats for £12 each and the club would make
an extra £14,292 for the game, let alone a few pints at the bar and a
programme. I thought "bums on seats" were essential to run a successful
football club. If we get to Division 1 and the club continue the same
logic to a full house, the club stand to lose over £300,000 per season.
On a final note, were as reported, all the seats sold? or were their 1,191
supporters who lost out on seeing the game?
Reading looked very nervy, certainly in the first half... and that
communicated itself to the crowd... nothing really got going on and off
the pitch. Plus point of the first half - our defence. Negative, Mr Rougier...
one period of play in that first half summed up his performance. Reading
were breaking with Cureton...yes an attack... he was surrounded by 3/4
Brighton players... our midfield were all trying manfully to keep in touch
with Jamie... where was "the Rouge"?.... literally jogging back up the
pitch, no where near the action and more depressingly looking like it
did'nt really matter. What is wrong with the guy? Huddersfield away he
worked his socks off and caused loads of problems. Perhaps Pardew can
shed some light on this blokes attitude, though he's not the only one.
Thank god we did not lose. After all the anticipation it had draw
written all over it. As all above have said we missed Forster. At Wycombe
we had great movement from the front players and the wingers. I sat in
with the Wycombe and after the match all the old gits behined me were
saying we were the best side they had seen there in years. What was the
difference, well 2 draws on the spin, not wanting to lose and Rougier.
I have had numerous people have a go at me for moaning about him at the
match, but apart from the Oxford game last season I have never really
seen him play well. Thank God Butts is on his way back we have done well
without him obviously but his hold up play could make al the difference
for the final run in. I summary I think we can be happy with a draw, stick
Rouge in the reserves and lets get back to playing the game like we know
I was in the box the other week for the Stoke game. After the match
John Madjeski did his obligaratory "we need 16,000 a week to break even"
speach. Well John, I've got a top tip which will make you some extra cash.
Try to sell tickets when they are demanded, for christ sake. I knew several
people who couldn't get tickets because it had 'sold out' yet the attendance
was only 22,009.
I came away from Saturday's game feeling disappointed but not despondent.
It wasn't a very good game with both sides cancelling each other out.
I couldn't believe how much we missed Forster. Clearly his pace makes
teams play differently and opens up the game for our other players. To
me, the game was also crying out for a midfield playmaker AND Martin Butler!
It is great news to hear he will play a reserve match this week. If we
do get promotion Pards will have to take a long look at our squad because
we need more for Div1.
Yeah it was always going to be nervy, neither side wanted to lose,
but we are TOP OF THE LEAGUE, five points clear and at home so why did
their keeper have so little to do?
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