(Half Time: 0-1)
Reading Scorers: Parkinson (30 mins), Igoe (58 mins)
Brentford Scorers: McCammon (85 mins)
Date: 10 February 2001
Attendance: 7,550

Reading: Whitehead, Newman, Viveash, Whitbread, Murty, Parkinson, Caskey, Igoe (Jones), Cureton (Rougier), Butler, McIntyre. Subs not used: Howie, Hunter, Gray.

Brentford: Gottskalksson, Gibbs, Lovett (Williams), Powell, Marshall, Theobald (McCammon), Rowlands, Ingimarsson, Dobson, Owusu, Partridge. Subs not used: Kennedy, Smith, Javary.

Bookings: Gibbs, Owusu (Brentford); Newman (Reading).
Referee: R D Furnandiz (Doncaster)

It seems that Reading are back in form! Not only was this Reading's third straight league victory but it was a much improved performance away from home that earned three points from a very difficult fixture. Reading seemed confident and determined, and combined that with some excellent football throughout the whole match to make it a well deserved victory. Perhaps the most pleasing thing about this victory was the way the whole team seemed to be working together - to keep it tight at the back and carve out some excellent chances up front by playing the ball right out from defence into some dangerous positions. New loan signing, Adrian Whitbread, came straight into the centre of defence in place of Barry Hunter and made a massive difference to the team. He looked like he'd always been a Reading player by the way he slotted in and combined solid traditional central defender style football with some intelligent balls forward.

The importance of the defence was clear during the opening twenty minutes when Brentford enjoyed most of the play. Recently Reading might have struggled away from home to control the game, with Brentford coming forward and looking for the early goal. Thankfully it seemed the defence was as tight as anything. Viveash and Whitbread were like a wall across the edge of the Reading box - not letting a thing through. Meanwhile Murty and Newman both put in some fantastic challenges to prevent Brentford getting the shots in. Murty's passing wasn't of top class, but his tackling was. Newman saved a certain goal during the first half by storming back and sliding in with accuracy to remove the ball from the pitch. The Brentford striker must have wondered what had hit him. With Reading under the early pressure we conceeded a whole load of corners - but they were dealt with well by the defence and by Phil Whitehead in the Reading goal. Nice to see a keeper manage to cleanly hold so many balls lobbed into the area. After lobbing the ball just over the crossbar Brentford almost took the lead moments later when Viveash was beaten - for about the only time in the game - the player broke into the box but Whitehead saved well when perhaps they should have scored.

After dealing with the early pressure the game quickly swung the other way as Reading went on the attack spured on by some very vocal travelling support packed on the terraces behind the goal. We won a whole load of corners before one eventually paid off on the half hour. A Caskey corner from the left was played into the box and somehow found its way into the back of the net. It was hard to see what had happened from our end of the pitch - but steaming away from the near post in celebration was Phil Parkinson. 1-0 to the Royals.

The second half saw Reading gradually look more and more like likely winners. It could have been two when Jamie Cureton went flying down the Reading left wing. He took it wide, cut in a bit past a defender, who might as well not have been there, and crossed into the middle - a perfect low cross just far enough away from the keeper but right by Sammy Igoe who had stormed his way into the box. Igoe hit it well, but the keeper made a great save. Martin Butler was at the far post but it didn't quite fall for him. However, that didn't seem to matter moments later, when Cureton went on a run down the other wing - the Reading left. After beating two defenders he drew the keeper as he got closser to the line. With the keeper beaten he stopped the ball by the line and played it into the middle - and there once again was Sammy Igoe. This time there was no keeper in the way and Igoe stuck it home calmer than calm, and celebrated in the same style - just like he'd knocked one in on the training ground. 2-0 to the Royals.

Following on from Cureton's amazing efforts Martin Butler wasn't to be outdone and it could have led to Reading sealing it. Butler took it down the Reading right and put in the perfect cross towards McIntyre's head in the centre of the box. McIntyre chose to place it - probably the right idea, but his header was just wide of the post with the keeper beaten. McIntyre was involved once again in another chance to seal the game - a backpass caught the Brentford keeper who decided to bribble it out and found himself in all kinds of bother - eventually bringing McIntyre to the ground, but getting away with it when it might have led to another Reading goal. The referee, who had otherwise had a good game, then followed it up with a couple of bizarre decisions - missing a couple of full on fights, which was probably lucky as Newman escaped with just a yellow card.

With time running out, and Reading getting caught offside everytime they came forward, it was time to play out time for the victory. On came Keith Jones in place of the blinding Sammy Igoe. A few people thought it was Rougier, but then it was clear the positive reception really was for Keith Jones who was greated with chants of "there's only one Keith Jones". Everything looked good - Reading 2-0 up and every player getting the full support of the crowd. Typical really then that Brentford went and stuck a goal in with five minutes to go leaving us with the usual end of game nerves. The ball was played in low from the right and stuck in past Whitehead. Both before and after the goal Whitehead pulled off a couple of superb saves to keep Reading ahead. One was a reaction save from close range, but another he did amazingly well to push wide. And then came the final whistle - a deserved away victory and one that sets Reading up very nicely for a end of season automatic promotion push.

Following report by Neil Cole:
An excellent performance at Griffin Park earned Reading their first away win in the league since October, and also secured a third consecutive league victory. While recent form hasn’t been totally convincing, three hard earned wins in a row shows our promotion potential, and has kept us in touch with the league leaders. The Reading fans packed the terrace behind the goal, and the many travelling Royals created a South Bank style atmosphere. It was the loudest away support I’ve heard for a very long time, and it must have helped the players earn a rare victory away from the Madejski Stadium.

Despite the victories over Bristol Rovers and Port Vale, the team was switched around yet again. Ricky Newman swapped flanks and started at left-back, with the fit again Graeme Murty coming back into the defence on the right. Loan signing Adrian Whitbread made his debut at centre-back, and formed a very effective partnership with Adi Viveash. While Barry Hunter will be disappointed to be dropped after helping Reading get three clean sheets in a row, the signing of Whitbread looks to be another good move in the market by Alan Pardew. The Portsmouth player gives Pardew an extra defensive option, and until Adie Williams returns to fitness he will be much needed in the heart of the defence.

After three games on the substitute’s bench, Martin Butler made a return to the starting eleven at the expense of Anthony Rougier. Butler’s late winner against Port Vale last week was enough to convince Pardew that he is a greater threat than Rougier up front, so the Cureton-Butler partnership was back together again. While Rougier has played well recently, it is clear he is not a natural goalscorer. With Jimmy McIntyre performing consistently well on the left, there simply isn’t room for him in the side at the moment.

The game kicked off with the Reading fans easily out-singing the locals, and it stayed that way until the very end. If only a similar atmosphere could be created at the Madejski, home games could become as enjoyable as this one. The difference between Reading’s home and away support was highlighted at the end, when Keith Jones was loudly applauded onto the pitch. Jones has been booed in his last two appearances at home – clearly the fans that feel this strongly against him can’t be bothered to go to away games.

Brentford threatened to spoil the party, and looked the more dangerous side to begin with. They had a great chance to take the lead when Owusu was through on goal, but his poor effort was saved by Whitehead in the Reading goal. Viveash and Whitbread coped well with a spell of pressure from the Bees, before Reading eventually got into the game. A series of corners eventually led to a goal, as Phil Parkinson headed in a Caskey corner at the near post. Parky’s header wasn’t his best, but it somehow got through the crowd of players and nestled in the corner of the net.

Reading held on to the lead for the rest of the half, mainly thanks to Ricky Newman who made a superb tackle to stop a surging run from a Brentford striker. The defence looked committed and confident today, a great improvement from the shambles we saw just a few weeks ago.

The second half saw Reading play some of their best football for a long time, as it was clear the confidence was starting to flow throughout the side. Cureton nearly scored after a cross from Igoe, but couldn’t quite make the contact that was needed to poke the ball home. However, when Cureton returned the favour shortly afterwards, Igoe made no mistake. After beating his man and drawing out the keeper, Cureton crossed across the goalmouth and Igoe had a simple tap-in.

Two goals up and playing superbly, the game should have been over there and then. It was nearly three as Jimmy McIntyre was given a free header from the edge of the six yard box after a Caskey cross. However, he could only guide the header the wrong side of the post.

In typical Reading style, we then let Brentford come at us, as the players seemed content with a two goal lead. Phil Whitehead made one fantastic save from a close range shot, before Brentford pulled one back with five minutes to go. McCammon found some space in the six yard box, and fired in after a cross from the right. The final moments were very nervy, as we all feared giving away another two points on our travels. The players held out though, and the final whistle brought immense relief and three valuable points.

The majority of the Reading fans stayed to loudly cheer the players off the field, and they deserved it after putting so much into this game. The team showed real commitment and determination today, and this was matched by the best away following of the season in terms of both numbers and atmosphere. Other results meant that amazingly we are still sixth, despite three consecutive wins. However, with four of the top five still having to visit us at the Madejski, we have a great chance of improving our position in the very near future.

Post Match Opinions

I have to agree with Neil Cole, the fans that follow Reading away are the true fans. I enjoyed the match far more than any of the great home victories we have had this season. The fans were four square behind the team and the atmosphere on the terraces was awesome. The real fans showed their true nature when Keith Jones came on by giving him a great reception, compared to the whingeing, complaining, negatives types that we get at the Madhouse. Booing our own players,OUTRAGEOUS!
This was a great team performance with Cureton and Butler turned providers, brilliant. New and old Adi's superb in defence as was Whitehead in goal. Everybody played their part. Full credit to Brentford, their heads never dropped and gave us a good run for our money right to the final whistle, all on limited resources and an uncertain future for their club.

-- Trevor, a Loyal Royal.

The best away game atmosphere for some time now which once again brings up the clichéd 'Seats vs... Standing' debate again.
It seemed like Pardew was going for the win from the off and with the movement from Cureton and the superb Butler, it always looked like we would. We looked a constant threat in attack which is something we haven't had for some time now. 1-0 ! A super, bullet header from 25 yards from Parky - or at least it looked that good from the view behind some big eared fella in the deafening away end shed.
The second half was even better with the only disappointment coming from our lack of central midfield cover. It seemed that every time we broke away, we had to score. As soon as the move broke down the counter attacks came thick and fast through the middle of the park without a midfielder in sight. Worrying. Thankfully some excellent work by Ricky, Viv and Whitehead kept the pressure down to a minimum. 2-0! Little rat boy finishing off a great move for Reading.
Now it wouldn't be Reading if we didn't take our foot of the pedal and try and soak up the pressure from the improving home side. It wasn't a surprise for us to concede a goal with a few minutes left to go. It wasn't to be and the royals take all three points from an away game. Has it really been that long since our last win?
Man of the Match: Cureton, Butler, McIntyre, Whitehead. The Crowd. Moment of the Match - "Shall we sing a song for you?" The "Out-Door urinals" You know who you are. Pleasure to be there. U ROYALSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

-- Damian

Great to get three points and overall I was pleased. Two things that need tightening up in my view. In the first half, delivery of the ball to the front two wasn't good with the result that when we were under pressure we kept getting the ball chucked back down our throats. Also when two nil up, apart from excellent chances to put it all beyond doubt, we seemed to sit back and invite them to come and have a go. Dangerous and in a game where we were by far the better team, it might have ended as a draw...which would have been an injustice.. towards the end it was more uncomfortable than it need have been.
That said, well done lads and keep up the good work.

-- Chris.

This was like football from yesteryear. Not so much the football but the rituals surrounding it. I arrived at 1.40pm and headed straight for The Griffin behind the Brook Road Stand to meet some fellow Royals. I can't remember the last time I heard such raucous singing in a pub away from home like that. It was superb.
About 2.30pm and in to the ground. Crowding on to a crushed terrace everyone 'in yer face' and great solidarity between everyone there who all wanted the same result. At last years away game at Brentford it was a terrific atmosphere but on Saturday it was stunning. The Brentford fans must've thought 'why are these fans so up for it - their teams only 6th and haven't actually played that well for a while!' - This is something I find really refreshing about our fans this year, we are all so hungry for success that we encourage - even when the chips are down. I would love to have been in another section of the ground to see and feel how we sounded.
As for the game, well for me a great team performance but I would single out Cureton and Newman as the stars. Cureton showed so much skill, timing, trickery and composure in a polished performance and Newman, some tackles he made today kept at least 1 goal out - maybe 2!
A fantastic afternoon rounded off excellently by the players and management all walking off together clapping our support and recognising the contribution it had made to a good away win.
-- Crowthorne Royal.

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