LEAGUE DIVISION TWO
READING 1 BRENTFORD 0
Attendance: 11,427
Scorers: Adrian Williams Date: 11 March 2000
Team: Howie, Gurney, A.Williams, Hunter, Murty, Grant, Smith, Evers (Brayson), Hodges, Butler, Forster (McIntyre).

Match Heroes: The whole Reading team, for another team performance

Well, you could say the statistics tell the story. This was Reading's sixth win from the last nine league games - with only one defeat. This was Reading's fourth consecutive home victory, and third consecutive victory. We have now been unbeaten in the last thirteen home games at fortress Madejski Stadium - a run stretching all the way back to November of 1999. We are now in 16th position in the table - our highest position all season long. To say we are in form is a massive understatement. Currently there is no doubting that Reading are the best side in the whole division, and fears of relegation are now distant memories of the first half of the season. We are definitely staying up, and this victory underlined that. It was by no means a classic game, or over impressive victory from Reading. But Adrian Williams winner ten minutes from time was well deserved for another team performance - in which our desire for the game more than made up for a bit of hoofing the ball and some misplaced passes. We are on the up.

With Caskey suspended and Robinson, player of the month and target of a tribute day, out injured following limping off in the mid-week victory over Oxford; the Royals were forced to make two changes to the starting eleven. Murty came in at full back for Robinson and Caskey was replaced by Evers. We definitely missed Caskey's creativity with Evers not a patch on him, and Murty had a fair bit of trouble passing the ball successfully. That's not to say they didn't put in plenty of effort - Murty in particular was throwing himself into every challenge determined to win the ball and was responsible for creating the winner by both winning the free-kick and then supplying the ball onto Adie Williams head.

The first half was very even, and for once the scoreboard gave a realistic impression of the first half action. Both teams had identical statistics: 2 shots, 1 corner, and 4 fouls each. Fair enough then that it was 0-0 at half time after nothing to get overly excited about. Reading probably felt they could have gone in ahead after Butler was clearly pushed over inside the box for an obvious penalty. The referee, who was developing a habit for letting a lot of things go, let this go too. Earlier on in the half Reading had worked well down the right to cross the ball for Smith (or was it Hodges?) to send the ball onto the crossbar with their head. Brentford though will also feel they could have had the lead at the break. Right after Reading had hit the crossbar they took it down the other end and shot from just inside the box on the left. It was a brilliant effort that curved over Howie and dipped as if it might sneak into the corner of the net before slamming against the crossbar and away to safety.

Brentford had had the greater possession by a long way, but Reading had looked the most dangerous going forward with plenty of balls driven into the area but no-one really connecting to send them into the back of the net - with a bit more room in the box we could have grabbed a couple. Reading were direct while Brentford were content to pass the ball around all over the park without actually working it forward and penetrating. Despite playing it around quite nicely, all the away side could do was pass it back rather than forwards as Reading marked up tightly not allowing any options to move it forward.

The Royals, under the current management team, certainly know how to play in Division Two. Gone are the pretty passing triangles that got us nowhere - we'll leave those for teams like Brentford. Now there's plenty more hoofing clearances up the pitch, and flying tackles to win the ball that make you wince. And that was the pattern of the second half as Reading gradually got more and more on top with Brentford rarely threatening.

Williams and Hunter were solid at the back and very efficient in clearing anything getting close to threatening Howie. Brentford's only real chance on target was a long range effort that Howie did well to tip over the bar for the corner. But for the last twenty minutes of the match there was only one team in it - and that was Reading. Hodges was cropping up in the right place at the right time again and almost scored after a cross confused the keeper and found Hodges storming in with a powerful header. We all thought it had gone in, but despite being a perfect height it was wide of the target. Brayson replaced Evers and gave a bit more down the right wing as we worked the ball forwards and into the box. The break through came with ten minutes to go. Murty went mad down the left wing flinging his whole body into a challenge to win the ball and then get free of his man. As he broke down the left side of the area he was brought down from behind. Up he stepped and delivered a superb free-kick right across the crowd of players in the box to the far post. And there was Adrian Williams, at the end of his loan spell from Wolves, to head the ball cleanly into the back of the net for the winner.

With quite a few minutes left Brentford could have got back into the match - but they didn't as Reading kept it down their end. The best form of defence is attack, and Reading did just that and created a couple more chances, and could have made it 2-0. McIntyre was impressive during his brief spell on pitch after replacing Forster. He chased and tackled for every ball as well as trying to get it into the box with every chance he got. But that summed up the whole team performance from Reading. Nice.

Post Match Opinions

Things are looking good for us to progress upwards and out of this division next season. When Alan Pardew was appointed to the Manager's position permanently (rather than the caretaker role) I read a chorus of 'Why him?' in the local press. It did take a long time for Reading to return to winning ways with Pardew in charge, but then he had an awful lot of someone else's mess to sort out. Now, after what must have been much hard work behind the scenes, we are beginning to see the fruits of that hard work. Credit, too, to Martin Allen, because we definitely seem to have gone up a gear since he arrived, the Chairman who as ever dips his hand in his pocket to buy new players, and the supporters, especially those who have helped to bring a better type of atmosphere to the Mad House. (That must be the best place to keep a Mad Dog! Ha ha.)
Woof woof
-- Loyal Royal in Caversham.

The joy continues! A true sign of an in-form side full of confidence when we can still get results without playing our best football. The fact is we always look like we are going to score at some point, and for all Brentford's efforts thay never looked like breeching our defence, the complete opposite of the bad old days before the Colchester home game. Everyone played their part (including subs Brayson and Macca, special mention for his sublime skill and pass in the centre circle) without anyone having an outstanding game, no matter, this is a winning side and management team that has the full backing of a jubilant, revitalised set of fans. It's now a real pleasure to go and see the Royals - can't wait for Burnley and Bristol Rovers, difficult games? Who wants to play us these days!...
-- Steve Morris

Thanks a lot Reading F.C. for playing good football recently, especially beating the scum:o))) I have got a season ticket for the East Stand and the atmosphere at the Bournemouth match was just superb. The guy in the black suit and hat was a great drummer. It was a pale comparison to today's first half in which the atmosphere wasn't as good. The drummer and trumpet blower just couldn't get the crowd going. We only started to get going in the second half and especially after the goal. I reckon that we should have a band for every home match and to have some good music players. Bring back the guy in the black suit:o))))
-- Pete

The Royals go from strength to strength and it's a joy to watch. After the sublime victory in midweek, this encounter struggled to capture the same entertainment but the old cliche is that ' a good team wins when not playing well'! The one worrying thing was that we seemed to be playing long ball throughout, hopefully this wont become a trend because it won't attract the large crowds Alan and Mad Dog crave for. Still, you can't criticise a winning side and its fantastic to be able to go to the Mad Stad expecting a win.
A special word has to go to Peter Grant who has been fantastic recently - he doesn't look like a player in his mid- thirties and was a steal on a free transfer. Adie's goal was a vintage Williams one to cap a great performance and if the Alan and the Board are reading this: LET'S SIGN HIM PERMANANTLY!
It looks like Linvoy's off which is a shame but dare I say it; I think Adie's a better player anyway. Brenford impressed me earlier in the season at Griffin Park but looked average today. To be honest if we're not challenging for automatic promotion at this stage next season some serious questions will have to be asked!
-- R.Webb

A very even game with the Royals just deserving to shade it. We clearly missed Caskey's creativity and the balance that Robinson gives to the whole side but our defence was solid, particularly Murty although his distribution was generally woeful, our midfield battled hard, our forwards ran themselves into the ground, and even Brayson looked a half decent player when he came on. It's an old cliche but it's the sign of a good side when you are missing key players and don't play particularly well but still win. It was great to see Adie score again in a Royals shirt and I hope its the first of many more.
Special mention must also go to the referee who was arguably the most incompetent I have seen all season. At least he was equally appalling for both teams.
-- Michael Howard

Another 3 points thankyou very much.
Not the best game in the world but you never thought we would lose,and Adie popped up in the last 10 minutes with a headed goal ,cue celebrations. I then expected an onslaught but it never came. They just passed it around on the edge of their own box, most odd , perhaps a one nil defeat was a good result for them. We sensed this and kept pushing forward and nearly made it 2 nil but one goal was good enough. Again a very solid performance, we were strong at the back.I thought Gurney had a good game(and I never thought I'd say that) he's tackling like Parky now . Murty did well but looks to be carrying a few extra pounds,it was his initial run that led to our goal, and an excellent freekick.
We did miss Caskey though, at times we lacked a bit of a cutting edge, but hey I'm just being bloody fussy now.
-- Russ, Essex Royal.

Indeed a sound performance that really iced the cake of a week! Yes a ground out result, but a RESULT none the less. 9 points from 9, and 2 local rivals stuffed, Adie back scoring for Reading, in a Reading shirt for a change, why even Gurney did'nt look too bad!
Shame the atmosphere died after 20 mins into the first half, but the cheer leaders under the scoreboard were told to shut up by the Reading firm, and its best not to annoy them - is it?

-- Scoreboard Corner Royal

Another 3 points!
Well, the Royals deserved them, but it was not a pretty match.
Misplaced passes all over the place, and a fair few long balls down the middle aiming for Forster. Forster lost every long ball in the air. This is not the way to bring Forster into the game, he feeds off balls to feet or crosses in the box. When Reading went wide we looked dangerous, the lack of Robinson showed just how much he's added to the team since he arrived. Brayson added width when he arrived, and it was nice to see Mcintyre turning the defense inside out for the short period he was on the pitch.
Murty showed a lot of effort, never shirking from the tackle, and his effort resulted in him winning and taking the freekick leading to the goal.
Butler had a hardworking game, but much of his work was lost in the end with a misplaced pass or running into a Bee's defender. I was surprised by his captaincy, but he seemed to do a good job. The defence were prone to concentration lapses, but Gurney in particular made a few important interceptions. Adie Williams was a star, he was solid all game, with only one mistake on the edge of his own box, but making up for this by heading the winner. I can see Williams forming part of the offer for Caskey from Wolves, but I think Williams would be a good move only if he's free. Sean Evers had a lacklustre performance, and showed little of his promise that brought him to the Madejski. Over all though I don't want to be critical.
The performance was what was required, the Bees were unable to play their passing game against the Royals, and we sneaked a goal passed them, it could have been more, but 3 points are 3 points. Looks like we'll be playing Swindon after all next season!
-- Stores

Nice one!
Not a fantastic game of football, but we won, and at this stage of the season, surely that matters more than how we play. Credit should go to the management team for giving the players a winning attitude, and for giving the fans something to be pleased about. We appear to have really turned a corner now, but there are still a few things to sort out.
There are two players who should not be allowed to leave the club.....Caskey and Adie Williams. It showed against Brentford how much we miss Darren, who may well be the best passer of a ball in Division Two. Evers looked as though he was trying, but he cannot dictate a game, which Caskey can and often does. There is no way we should sell Caskey. Part of the reason Forster has started to play like he can, is because Caskey can make the passes he needs. On Saturday, no-one could really play a good enough pass for Nicky. If Caskey has to go, then it should be for a lot of money, at least 1m. Then we would still need to bring in someone like him again, which won't be easy. Adie Williams impressed. He would be the ideal signing by the transfer deadline. For one, he's local and there aren't many local lads at Reading now (thanks to Mr Burns). He knows what it means to the supporters, because he is one. That reflects in his play, which was very good against Brentford. He's also a quality player, who looked very assured, and was also willing to dish out grief if needed.
So Mr Madjeski, please get your cheque book out, Mr Pardew, forget about Sammy Igoe until the summer, and sign Williams now ! Anyway, a solid performance against a team who a month ago, probably would have turned us over. If we can beat Burnley away this week, who can see us going down.
-- Andy

Finally, the future for the mighty Royals is looking very bright. Adrian Williams once again at his best at the Royals. Two super headers in as many years have helped the Royals reach the promised land. (1) His header vs Charlton to put us in the play-offs and our highest ever position in football (2) This one which has saved us from relegation in division two. He is God!!!! If Pardew has got a mind (and I'm sure he has.) He would sure sign back Williams. Matthew Robinson had a tribute day but Adrian deserves one too.
-- Graham Bell

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