MATCH REPORT: 2003/2004 Season

15 November 2003: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Reading: Salako (23 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 14,090

DIVISION ONE 15 Nov 2003
Pos Team P Pts GD
5 Sunderland 18 32 +10
6 READING 18 30 +6
7 West Ham 17 28 +7
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Ingimarsson, Newman, Shorey, Hughes, Sidwell, Harper (Watson 81), Salako (Henderson 79), Goater (Savage 74), Forster. Subs not used: Mackie, Young.
Warner, Muscat, Ward, Ryan, Lawrence, Sweeney, Livermore, Cahill, Fofana (Elliott 75), Braniff (Roberts 60), Ifill. Subs not used: Gueret, Nethercott, Wise.
Reading: Hahnemann, Henderson.
Fofana, Livermore, Muscat.
Referee: M J Jones (Chester)

Reading may not be playing the most entertaining football recently, but today they chalked up their third successive home win without conceding a goal. Their mood was typified by Shaun Goater closing down a Millwall defender and blocking his attempted pass in the opening minute of the game. For the first quarter of an hour Reading passed the ball better and showed real character in not reacting to a series of dreadful challenges for which the referee amazingly seemed to consider not even worthy of a stern word. At least he acknowledged that the assault on Shorey in the ninth minute deserved a penalty. I thought at first, as did Murty, that the challenge had inflicted a very serious injury.

After a lengthy delay for treatment for Shorey and some heated protests from the Millwall players, which I am convinced were to delay the kick and save Ifill from a booking, Hughes blasted the ball straight at Warner who saved with his legs. Almost immediately Ifill volleyed a decent chance wildly over the bar. Reading were looking hungry for the ball and justice was done in the twenty-third minute. Reading broke from defence quickly when Goater stretched to send a good pass to Sidwell wide on the right. The most obvious option was to slide an early ball to Forster steaming in at the near post, but Sidwell, showing great awareness and judgment, delayed the pass for a second and cut it square to Salako on the edge of the area. Salako struck it well and the ball took a deflection before finding its way into the net.

Millwall continued to attempt to intimidate Reading. Newman was the next victim when Fofana took him late and high on the halfway line. It was possibly worthy of a straight red card but at least this time the referee produced a yellow. Shortly after Hahnemann produced what is becoming his customary howler when he came out of his area for ball which the defence looked to have covered and only succeeded in getting in the way and providing Ifill with a chance. Marcus must have been relieved to see the big man slip and make a complete mess of the opening. Minutes later Ifill carved himself another good chance and again the opportunity was wasted with a tame effort into the side netting. Half time came with Reading deservedly in the lead.

For the first ten minutes of the second half the Royals controlled the game and Sidwell and Salako went close with efforts that flew just over the bar. Goater went close with a header when he got on the end of a good long ball into thebox from Newman. Millwall then gradually began to get on top. Their tactics, which looked to be more to do with the influence of Wise than Wilkins, were mainly just to thump it forward, but they managed to keep Reading pinned in their own half for long periods of time. With the Royals determined and well organised in defence, Millwall didn't look to have the ability to create a clear opening, and for all their huffing and puffing, they never really looked like scoring.

Coppell certainly made his intentions clear. He obviously felt that one goal was enough to win the game and with fifteen minutes to go he reverted to a 4-5-1 formation taking off Goater, sending on Savage to play wide on the right, and moving Hughes into the middle to support Forster. Hughes is still taking a lot of stick and I must admit I think his passing is woeful at times, but he worked very hard in midfield today, and although he missed the penalty, he does score goals now and again.

Reading crept back into the play-off positions with this win and with all the top sides dropping points over the last few weeks it is looking wide open again. Defensively we are looking as sound and today I was impressed with the way in which the players retained their composure when subjected to provocation and sustained pressure.
Report by John Wells


Well played Reading, I thought this was a good performance considering we were missing Ade Williams, Scotty Murray and had to play with the liability of the so called Goat up front. No wonder Fossie gets so knackered every game as he has to do all the running up front with such little support from the Goater. I know we've few options up front but we really do need a better striking partner for Forster. I think most of us realise we're not going to get a Henry or a Van Nist but just somebody who's prepared to graft, support, run off the ball and get stuck in would help. Thought the lads at the back did very well against a fairly mediocre Millwall side with Ricky Newman having a good game at the back. As for the missed penalty, what was Hughesy taking it for in the first place, he can't hit a cows arse with a banjo let alone take a penalty, how many thought shit, he's going to miss it? How can we let Watson go? He really does settle the midfield and has the ability to pass the ball unlike some. Coppell has quietly got us back on track and tonight we are back in the play offs zone. This is a great achievement for the manager and the players considering all the going ons over the recent weeks. We definitely need to strengthen the squad to stay in the top six or higher but things are looking up again. It's so tight in the league that any team in the top twelve could be promoted, look at todays results. Anybody need a goat for the back garden?
Nick Newbury

Poor performance, good result. We seem to have learnt the art of winning football matches when we are not at our best and today that continued. We certainly started well enough against a team that was mirroring its new manger's style of play. I know it can cause problems if you show the card too early in the game, but the ref. was just too slow to act. At least he did see the penalty. Like most people I was surprised to see Hughes step up and take the kick. Credit to him for that, but why are the strikers not volunteering? Milwall offered little up front apart from the willing Ifill who had very little support and it was no surprise when we took the lead. It was also good reward for Salako who again was my man of the match. The back four were excellent as a unit and real credit must go to the centrebacks who hardly know each other! It is the midfield that once again gave me concern, it just was not working as a unit. Those who voted for Harper as player of the season, should start supporting him a bit more. At the moment it is just not happening for him. Somebody on the coaching staff does need to do some work with him on his tackling technique as it looks all wrong. Hughes worked hard as Hughes does, but did not produce much of quality and the result was that there was not much for Forster and Goater. Forster worked hard and Goater showed some good touches but not enough for me. As a pair they do not seem to have gelled as yet and they will need to. Today it was two average teams but we are sixth, and we all know who is below us!!!
Ken C

Got an opinion? E-Mail us at
Appropriate submissions will appear on match report pages

Quick Links:
  [Match Reports Index]   [Match Previews Index]   [Current League Table]

Link to Hob Nob Anyone? Home Page
Copyright Hob Nob Anyone? © 1994-2003

The Original Reading Football Club Internet Site