MATCH REPORT: 2003/2004 Season

10 January 2004: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Reading: Owusu (62 mins).
McGreal (72 mins).
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 17,362

DIVISION ONE 10 Jan 2004
Pos Team P Pts GD
9 Crewe 27 39 +1
10 READING 27 39 -3
11 Cardiff 27 38 +8
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Williams, Brown, Murray, Newman, Hughes, Harper, Goater (Kitson 78), Owusu (Morgan 78). Subs not used: Young, Watson, Ingimarsson.
Davis, Wilnis, Richards, McGreal, Naylor, Wright, Magilton, Bart-Williams, Miller (Reuser 65), Counago (Bowditch 65), Kuqi. Subs not used: Abbey, Westlake, Santos.
Reading: -
Counago, Magilton.
Referee: Michael Ryan (Preston)

Reading performed well today against a strong Ipswich side and, having taken the lead with a fine goal well into the second half, looked set to take three points, but then a momentary loss of concentration allowed their opponents to sneak an equaliser. I'm sure Ipswich were delighted with their point.

The Royals started in a far more positive mood than in the last home game against Wimbledon. Defensively the whole team were prepared to close players down and get quickly behind the ball. The mood was typified by Williams who on one occasion pursued the ball from the edge of his own area to the halfway line forcing Town to play the ball back into their own half. Playing 4-4-2, the midfield lacked creativity in the centre with Newman playing deep and Hughes charging forward at every opportunity. Newman's defensive role allowed Shorey to push forward with greater conviction and on the other side Murty's pace was enabling him to probe deep into Ipswich territory. Owusu and Goater were giving Ipswich something to think about, although most of the danger was created by defensive errors. Ipswich were looking slightly shaky at the back at times. There were few clear cut scoring opportunities in the first half, the best effort coming when Murray ran at the defence and the ball fell to Harper who hit a superb drive straight at Davis from at least 25 yards. The Ipswich 'keeper managed to get behind it but the power of the strike prevented him from holding on to the ball and it was gathered at the second attempt.

Reading were building a period of pressure but shortly before half time the game was disrupted while the referee booked Counago and Magilton. Counago, who had spent a great deal of time whinging about being tackled, was cautioned following a late challenge. Magilton, who was still being booed by the home fans for taking a dive to get a penalty in the opening game of the season, was spoken to for protesting about the booking, and then clearly pushed his luck too far and also went into the book. The last significant action of the half saw Murray embarrass Richards with a nutmeg and whip in a cross which Hughes met powerfully at the near post but sent his header high over the bar.

The second half was far more open and both teams went looking for goals. Magilton had a header blocked, and Reading had to defend with some urgency after Brown went to ground and missed his tackle leaving the Royals temporarily outnumbered at the back. Murray, looking sharper than at any time this season, was taking players on and going past them. He was crucially involved in the opening goal of the game. It was a fine goal too. From Hahnmann to the back of the net with two touches! The 'keeper played a superbly weighted ball down the right wing into Murray's path who ran on to it and hit an excellent near post cross which Owusu met with his head and placed beyond Davis inside the far post. A goal worthy of three points, but it was not to be. Ten minutes later from an Ipswich corner the ball was knocked down into the six yard area where McGreal pounced to stab the ball home from close range. It was a soft goal to concede.

Reading to their credit immediately went with some conviction for a second goal. Murray cut inside and forced Davis to save. Murray's free kick was well met by Hughes, but his header was well saved. Coppell then replaced Goater and Owusu with new boy Kitson and Morgan. With just over ten minutes left it was Morgan that made the most impact on the game. He demonstrated great touch when controlling long passes, and the ability to go past players in beating two defenders wide on the right. Unfortunately the end product was not as impressive today, but he does look an exciting prospect.

Today's performance was definitely a step in the right direction. The squad seems to be slightly stronger and Coppell's influence may well be about to bring about a better run of performances and results. It will be interesting to see how he decides to use his forwards. With Forster back soon, Morgan showing promise, Goater back, and Kitson settling in, there are certainly more options available up front than there has been for while.
Report by John Wells


Well, I thought this was a good game and a very fair result. Unrecognisable to the bollox served up on boxing day against Wimbledon. Ipswich were by far the better team in the first half, but we thoroughly deserved our point for effort and work rate alone during the game and a good second half performance. Yes it was disappointing not to hold on to the one nil lead but not many could really complain at the final score, though once again pathetic schoolboy defending at a corner let them equalise. Ipswich passed the ball very well and my mate Bob who was at the Ipswich game at their place on the first game of the season said it was the total opposite to that day, where then we played them off the park. Shame how things have turned out (oh what joy to see Partridge making a right pigs ear of his time at West Ham with another stunning home defeat) but it does look like it will be Ipswich who will challenge for honours at the season end and not us, two points out of the last fifteen simply isn't good enough. They totally bossed the midfield today and that has to addressed by the oh so laid back Coppell. I though Ohwoosoo did ok while the Goat continued to run about like a Nanny goat and wont be bothering the laundry lady with his kit! Thought Murty had a good game and Shorey showed a bit of the promise we all know he has, Hughes continues to dumfound, why do they pick him? Now then, young Morgan! I'll be very careful with my words, but the glimpses of skill and touches he did show in his brief appearance look very exciting and does look a very bright prospect if he develops .Let's all hope he does. So a good day all in with reserved encouragement for the coming weeks, just wish Coppell would show a bit of emotion! URRZZ
Nick Newbury

Outpassed in midfield, missing two of our best players, we still managed to create more than a fluid Ipswich side. They kept the ball much better than we did but were one paced and didn't really threaten. Our goal was terrific, the old charge from an Ipswich free kick, a superb ball from Marcus to Murray, a good cross and a perfect header. The only disappointing thing was that the quality of their goal was poor and looked a bit of a mess from our viewpoint. There were many positives today. We were certainly more solid as a unit. Murray is coming back into form and Murty was outstanding. Kitson got onto the pitch but did not really look sharp enough yet. Morgan showed he has skill in abundance, but will need to produce the goods when it matters. From having one striker, we could even take two off today and bring on another two. If we really want to get into the playoffs though, we need to start winning again and soon.
Ken C

From my view in the East, Coppell was pretty animated in the second half, and you could see he knew how important it was we didnt concede a second, which would have been pretty devastating. However that's not really his style, and I dont care if he stays as still as a statue for 90 minutes, as long as we start getting results! To be honest, I thought Ipswich played much the better football, but we managed to threaten their goal more with our mixture of puff, pace and punt. The Goat showed some nice touches, Lloyd Owusu was a handful and scored a beautiful header, great to see a striker actually getting in position for a cross and finishing it, not exactly something we are used to! Man of the match had to be Murts who at times seemed to have the pace of Sir Michael Gilkes combined with his usual endevour. He was unlucky to not to win the game for us at the death after being played in well by Morgan. Thought Hughesy played quite well and doesn't deserve to be knocked, Harper needs to start believing in himself more and go looking for the ball because he has so much ability. More of the same please Murray... Good use of substitutes by Steve: changing the front two, the hunger of Morgan and Kitson meant they closed down well and although Lloyd Owusu and the Goat had done well, this was important as it took the pressure off the rest of the team - a defeat would have been a big blow. Well done lads, lets build on this and get back to the standard we know can play at! A victory at the City Ground on saturday would be hugely welcome as I am spending the weekend in Nottingham with my Forest ('down with the Derby') supporting mate! OWUUUUSU!!

Positives & negatives in equal measure from this. A vast improvement again in terms of effort shown by the players, but still far too many stray passes compared to Ipswich who looked far more assured in possession. Reading scored a very high quality goal, but yet again conceded a very sloppy one at the other end. Goater & Owusu looked capable of forming a fairly decent understanding & of working together, but for long periods the midfield failed to play to their strengths & create the balls/chances such players thrive on (Goater & Owusu have shown in the last 2 games what they can do on the rare occasions they have real quality balls into the box). The main reason I reckon Forster shines out as 'the main man' in terms of Reading's strikers is his ability to create his own chances when the service is poor, as it so often is from the midfield. And in fact, the midfield is still for me the weak link, as it has been ever since we came up into this division. What it still lacks is someone to pull the strings & provide direction & organisation. Watson can do this when playing well, but there seems to be no other who has those qualities. We need to create more for the likes of Goater, Owusu, & Kitson (when fit) or we will be truly relying on Forster to remain on a perpetual hot streak of goal scoring until he expires or goes elsewhere. And this means Div 1 footy next season & beyond.
Caversham Royal.

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