MATCH REPORT: 2003/2004 Season

16 September 2003: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Reading: Forster (62 mins), Sidwell (79 mins)
Cardiff City:
Thorne (12 mins).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 15,810

DIVISION ONE  16 Sep 2003
Pos Team P Pts GD
4 West Brom 7 15 +5
5 READING 7 14 +7
6 Sheff Utd 7 14 +6
Reading: Hahnemann; Murty, Williams, Brown, Shorey; Murray, Sidwell (Watson, 90), Harper, Hughes; Forster, Goater. (Tyson, 75). Substitutes not used: Mackie, Salako, Ashdown.
Cardiff City:
Alexander; Weston, Collins, Vidmar, Barker; Langley, Kavanagh, Boland, Robinson (Bowen, 83); Thorne, Earnshaw. Substitutes not used: Bonner, Gordon, Croft, Margetson.
Reading: Sidwell, Goater, Brown, Forster.
Cardiff City:
Collins, Kavanagh.
Referee: M Fletcher.

This was a great result for everyone involved with Reading Football Club. At half time the Royals were a goal behind and looking vulnerable against a tough side to break down, having just lost their unbeaten record and their manager in quick succession. The reaction on and off the field to Reading's second and goal, venomously struck by Steve Sidwell, was unprecedented. The players mobbed Sidwell on the touchline, and a relatively small home crowd (approximately 12,000) raised the roof - and rightly so - it was a great goal and spirited comeback. The celebrations were very much an expression of relief as much as joy.

Cardiff, fresh from a very convincing 5-0 victory over Gillingham, started confidently. Opening exchanges were fast and furious. Forster was looking dangerous and typically his pace was taking him behind the City defence. He made room for a couple of good strikes on goal but they were both virtually straight at Alexander. There was a lot movement in midfield and both sides were looking likely to score. However it was City who struck the first blow. Some very slack marking by Shorey left Thorne unmarked on the edge of the area who, with only Hahmnemann to beat, finished well. The Royals were clearly shaken. They seemed to lose their and composure as Cardiff settled into their game. The home crowd were subdued as the City fans roared their team on. Forster headed wide form a good Murty cross after twenty seven minutes, and shortly after, a very good save by Hahnemann prevented Earnshaw from adding a second for City. The half ended with a flurry of rash challenges from City which Reading's players did well to avoid. (Shorey didn't quite manage to get out of the way of one 'challenge'!) It was hard to see how Reading were going to get back into the game.

We did not have to wait too long to find out. Virtually straight from the re-start Reading forced a corner which produced a cleanly struck right foot volley from Sidwell. The shot was blocked, and from outside the area, Sidwell volleyed the rebound back, this time with his left foot, sending the ball flashing just wide of the post. There can be few players capable of striking the ball that well with either foot. Ten minutes later Hahnemann tipped over a long range effort but that was really Cardiff's last decent effort. Reading were taking the initiative and were more direct and aggressive than they had been in the first half. Even Goater managed to get himself booked. Having contributed little else to the cause he was replaced by a very lively and direct Tyson. The equaliser took just over an hour to arrive but it was definitely on the cards. Murray drove the ball across the goal and Forster deflected it past Alexander. Reading were growing in confidence and the ball was breaking kindly for them, deservedly so.

On sixty five minutes the game turned on a crucial moment. Earnshaw was clear on goal on the penalty spot, but somehow Brown managed to hook the ball away when the City striker looked certain to score. The City fans absurdly howled for a penalty but it was challenge that probably saved Reading from what might have been a harsh defeat. The City threat began to subside and as Reading broke forward the winner looked likely. When the ball was rolled across the area we were all extremely grateful that it was Sidwell who was there to administer the finishing touch with a blistering strike.

A lot will be said and written about Pardew during the rest of the season but all that matters to me is that he has left the club in better shape than he found it. It was his legacy out on the pitch tonight that gave us such a fine game of football, and team two points from the top of the Division. Thank you Alan and goodbye. Only time will tell if Dillon is the man to take the club forward. I remember going up to see Reading play Northampton shortly after he had replaced 'Mad Dog'. From that point on Reading began to pass the ball well and play better football. I am convinced Dillon was a significant influence behind the change. I'm sure he can coach but managing is a tougher job. I'd like to think he is the man for the job. He certainly deserves a chance. I have a feeling that West Ham are going to run away with the championship, but I still see Reading, among a few others, as realistic contenders for automatic promotion.
Report by John Wells

Following report by Ali Costelloe
I turned up to this game thinking we were going to lose to a strong Cardiff side, who won 5-0 at the weekend, and as I walked towards the stadium a Cardiff fan in front of me turned around and told me to save my money, as we would be given a "real footballing lesson". I believed him.

As I took my seat I was very impressed with the atmosphere between the two sets of fans, Cardiff having bought what looked like a good four-thousand. A lot of songs were directed towards praising Dillon and Madejski, and it was nice to hear the whole of the east stand singing our chairman's name. Reading kicked off attacking towards the away end, and quickly put on some good pressure.

Cardiff were looking dangerous, and before Hahnemann had any work to do Forster had had two shots saved, both directly at the Cardiff Keeper, Cardiff began to quickly counterattack, with Earnshaw and Thorne both looking to be a handful, long diagonal ball being played towards the two strikers, who were finding space worryingly easily. After 12 minutes the Welsh drew first blood, Thorne tucking the ball under Hahnemann after some good work in the box by Kavanagh. I couldn't say it wasn't coming, but it was somewhat disappointing that Cardiff had been able to score before Hahnemann really had anything to do.

Kavanagh, the Cardiff Midfielder, was bossing the game about in midfield, and made ours look like a pub team, with no real communication between the two central men, Harper and Sidwell. This lead to the Royals giving the ball away far too often, and the Cardiff player exploited that by getting the ball to Earnshaw as soon as possible, who would run at the defence, drawing men, and leaving space at the back post.

If it hadn't have been for poor Cardiff positioning, and insufficient accuracy on the crosses, Cardiff could have easily grabbed another. Hahnemann was forced to make a few diving saves at Earnshaw's feet, after long balls from the midfield into space had confused the full backs. Murty was often left with a lot of work to do, after the midfield hadn't put enough pressure on the Cardiff players, letting them slip the ball about, and put it into the flying Earnshaw's path.

Reading were making few efforts on Cardiff's goal, Forster often running in from the left, but having too much to do after the City defenders got close to him. There was not enough men in the box, and Shaun Goater was often hanging at the back at the 18yrd box, with seemingly no chance of getting the ball. I want to see more of him near the 6 yards box, continuing his reputation of being a goalscorer. Pardew bought him to the Madejski to put the ball in the back of the net, and if he isn't doing that, then you have to question what he's here for. He was not performing well at all, in my opinion, and its now 3 games since he scored. Scott Murray was making some good runs, and won a few corners after the Cardiff defenders had no choice but to put the ball behind.

Once we had won these corners, Sidwell and Forster would try to play it short, but the Cardiff defenders crowded around and often left us with throw-ins, without us ever having put the ball in the box. Just before half time, Shorey was taken out long after the ball had been played, and the Cardiff defender, who I think was Richard Langley, was lucky to escape Scott free. The Linesman was standing right next to the incident, so I can only presume that he made nothing of it. As the players walked off the pitch, Shorey was left needing treatment, and it left a sour note as we headed towards the break.

The second half saw the Royals come out on fire, a lot more movement, and somehow we had miraculously stopped giving the ball away. Sidwell was playing into the path of Murray, who continued to win corners, which were being cleared out after a good cross had been put in. Sidwell almost grabbed an equaliser after the ball bounced to him, and as he smacked the ball it rebounded back to him, this shot however bounced behind the goal.

Cardiff looked sluggish, and Peter Thorne was the only player looking dangerous for them, and he forced Hahnemann to make a superb save after a cracking shot from about 30 yards, which looked to be heading towards the top corner. It was the most dangerous chance they had for the rest of the game. The play that preceded this was a lot of neat, short passes, with little pressure from the Royals. This style was reminiscent of the play towards the end of last season, but with Little and Chadwick now gone, a lot of the play hinges on Murray dribbling towards defenders.

Harper was playing well, and was instrumental in starting off a lot of the moves, the defenders feeding him, and in turn Harper playing the ball to Murray, who was making a lot of good runs at the Cardiff defenders, drawing men, and eventually muscling around them, and getting into good positions in the box from which he could put in dangerous crosses or lay the ball off to somebody to have a long shot A lot of the time these chances were turned into Cardiff attacks, the Welsh impressing with their quick play, so full credit to the defenders for stopping anything being created. The visitors from Wales began to mock the royals, singing, "you're shit and you know you are" and "you're not very good". The Royals players immediately responded, Harper feeding Murray, who slid in a low cross, which Forster ran at and turned in under the pressure of a couple of Cardiff defenders. The south stand was silenced, as the Royals players celebrated by the corner flag. Cardiff soon began to put a lot more pressure on, and unfortunately the game turned bad-tempered, with Brown, Sidwell and the Cardiff no 7 being booked for late tackles. The ball was being pinged about a lot, and Cardiff often became the ones to control it, and start a good attack.

Cardiff were winning quite a few free kicks in dangerous places, but the Irish Midfielder, Kavanagh couldn't make anything from them, putting them into a melee of players, or putting it into the stand Hahnemann had a lot of work to do, after the likes of Earnshaw and Thorne were running onto long high balls, which the American keeper had to come out and collect. Hahnemann was often was the one putting the ball in good positions for the attacking players to run onto. This is why he is so important to the team; his distribution is so good he can do the job of a midfielder, by feeding the strikers from his own 18-yard box.

From one of these quickly started attacks, the Royals won a corner after a Cardiff central defender made a mistake and failed to head the ball back to his 'keeper, instead putting it behind for a corner. This corner was cleared for a series of about 4 throw-ins for the Royals, and from one of these Murty played in the ball. It bounced around in the box for a while, then out to Sidwell, who was in space just outside the 'D', he hit it first time into the top corner, and sent the Royals fans mad!

The Royals appeared to want to sit out the rest of the game, and this led to Cardiff attacking, and from these attacks the visitors won a few corners. Sidwell gave away a free kick in a 50-50 challenge with a Cardiff midfielder. He looked to be injured, and within a couple of minutes Dillon replaced him with Kevin Watson. He also replaced Shaun Goater with Nathan Tyson, reverting to the 4-5-1 of the Pardew era. This was purely to defend however, and should only be used to attack a team with a slower, older defence. Reading put 11 men in the box, and spent many of the remaining 11 minutes defending Cardiff crosses, which thankfully were too high and deep, which Hahnemann could easily collect. The big American 'keeper then launched a fantastic ball into the path of Nathan Tyson, it looked like we had about 4 players against a defender and a goalie. By the time he had got the ball to slow down, and get it into the middle, the Cardiff players had got back. They were attacking hard, but often the ball was too high and long for them to get anything on it. They had lost their good football, and looked set to lose the game. 4 minutes extra time were then added on, and goodness knows where from! The royals spent most of it with the ball hanging around the corner, trying to get a cross in, but the Cardiff defenders were having none of it. Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, the referee blew his whistle, and the Royals moved back into the playoff positions, albeit in 5th place. If we can get a win at home against Coventry City on Saturday, we have the possibility of going top of the league, it will need Wigan and West Ham to both lose though.

This game had to be one of the most entertaining I have attended in a long time, and it was nice to see the Travelling fans making noise, and actually behaving themselves for once. Cardiff are not a team to be taken lightly, so to get all 3 points against them was very satisfying.

Marks for Players and Referee
Hahnemann 8 very creative, and did his job well.
Shorey 5 slipped a bit, gave the ball away quite a lot in the first half, roamed out of position a bit too.
Williams 7 very solid, hardly noticeable, that's what you want to see in a defender
Brown 6 Booked, defended well, communicated well with the other defenders, unsung hero
Murty 6 often left with too much to do, should have communicated better, - not one of his better games
Murray 9 MOTM, awesome performance, despite taunting from Cardiff fans. Was very good running, and a good cross for the first goal. Well worth the money
Hughes 6 not really noticed, was he even on the pitch?
Harper 8 put the ball in the right places, and linked the defence to the attack well.
Sidwell 8 Well taken goal, looking better every game. Another top buy.
Goater 5 Not really playing his part, and looked like a midfielder at times, should be better
Forster 7 needed more help from Goater up front, can play better, but nevertheless, a good performance.
The Referee: Looked Ok in the first half, but sadly lost control after the break. Not biased at all, and was fair. 7.
Ali Costelloe

crowthorne royal
For the 2nd match running we looked a poor side in the first half. One of our major problems was Hughesy who kept on drifting in to the middle not offering Shorey an outlet on the left. After listening to Dill's version of the game afterwards he seemed to suggest Hughesy was trying to contain Richard Langley and that's why he did it. Personally I disagree, Hughesy struggles to stay wide and is indisciplined.
Moving forward we must learn how to win the ball again. In the 1st half Cardiff won 90% of all the 50/50 challenges and then picked up almost all of the loose ball aswell.
2nd half was a lot better. Cardiff tried to snuff us out. Ironically if they'd actually come at us they may have got a 2nd and killed us off. Hughesy played a lot better in the 2nd and as a team we were harder, fitter, well organised and ran our hearts out. Murray and Murty started to combine well and we looked dangerous. Fozzy had worked hard and did well to score. Sidwell was immense and although he still makes too many silly mistakes and tackles I thought he was the difference. The Goat had another poor game. He did nothing really. He was very easy to defend against. He's going to have to work at his game to fit in to our side. Nevertheless, he is always going to get goals and I thought against WH on Sat, although he didn't play well he showed some good touches at times. He will have his day.
The crowd, I thought were excellent. I sit in the NE corner and that's where most of the singers (in the North Stand) go. I looked around me at the start to see a lot of empty seats & I worried, however all the singers were in and provoked by what has to be said was a fantastic performance from Cardiff's fans we sang our hearts out. Well done to The East as they were in good voice. That's the best vocal support I've heard for a while at the MS. The version of 'You're not singing anymore' after our equaliser was so sweet and is without doubt the most vociferous I've heard !
A word on Cardiff. Unbeaten until yesterday they looked a solid outfit who play decent football. They have however irritating players like Robinson, Langley and Kavanagh who are all good players but are so niggly. They behave just like their fans, loud, obnoxious and generally very cocky. I couldn't believe Kavanagh had the gaul to suggest that Sidwell should have been sent off and the ref was weak !! I thought the ref had a cracking game and I shall be marking him on rate the ref today.
Well done Dill & the boys, now lets beat a mediocre Cov side on Sat and challenge for those top two places!
nick newbury
Classic game of two halves, but culminating in a great result and in the end a good game, especially when the tackles were flying in at the end. First ten minutes we were on fire with Fossie going close then boof we were totally outplayed, outfought and second best for the rest of the second half. We really did look like a ship without a rudder yet alone a captain. Hopefully a few tea cups were thrown by Dillon at half time as we came out firing in the second half and produced a gutsy display to take the precious points. After the equaliser we really did step it up and Sidwell who was quite outstanding all night nearly burst the net with his stunning shot to take the spoils. Apart from Brown I thought defence looked very shaky with Shorey looking like a rabbit caught in headlights when stopping and letting Thorne in for a simple goal, stupid. Churlish to criticise players when we have won a game like tonight, but fair to say we just have to improve to get back to where we were at the start of season. Off field events must have had an effect, but you could see the confidence flooding back as we went ahead and started to play as we know we can. The Goat has to improve too, but I still don't think he's 100% fit, the best will come hopefully. Finally a word about the fans, lot has been said about the support at home. First ten minutes it was tremendous, last ten minutes it was brilliant, Cardiff did make lots of noise and show what can be done, I think our problem is we're just too spread out in the Mad Stad. It's definitely getting better but still needs more work, music helps though it does remind me of those tossers at Wolves. Should be good Saturday, lets keep it going... URRZZ!
ken c
What a terrific match. We have lost our manager and last night we lost a fairly soft goal. We have not got a very good record at coming back when we go behind (Sheffield United apart). Last night both of those facts were buried as we turned in a superb second half performance. We did not start with a great deal of conviction. Coming off a good victory at the weekend, Cardiff started the better and when Shorey tried to play a silly offside, Thorne was able to beat Marcus with ease. We lacked confidence and they passed the ball well. Kavanagh was dictating and Langley showed what a steal he was from QPR. The Reading story was one of nearly but not quite. When we play like that we give the ball away far too easily and we need to be able to just play it simple till we get into a rhythm - perhaps that is where Harper and Sidwell need a bit more experience. The second half though was different. If there was a loud cheer when Forster tapped in Murray's cross, it was nothing compared to the explosion that greeted Sidwell's rocket. We had changed the game. It was hard to put a finger on why it had changed. Murray came into the game more, we kept the ball better and Hughes covered every blade of grass. I know he has his critics, and I am often one of them, but he worked his socks off last night. He might not be a natural left sided player, and I think that that has affected Shorey, but his work rate was outstanding. All can be proud of the second half display except perhaps The Goat. I know he needs feeding, but sometimes you have to help to find your own food. It was no surprise when he was taken off.
So we say goodbye to the Pardew era. I think he has been naive in what he has done but we must move on. He has done very well for this club. The sadness is that like McGhee, he won't be remembered for that. I think that last season, we would have lost last night's game. This year we are stronger, but the league is stronger. We have had a terrific start, now let's beat Coventry for a change!
thatcham royal
It's no good. I checked the mirror this morning & it's still there. Looks like I'll have to get the smile that's plastered over my face surgically removed. There aren't many teams I like to see beaten more than Cardiff. Solely because of the racist hooligan scum that "support" them. After starting well and then disappearing for the last 25 minutes of the first half, it looked like we would need a miracle to get even a point.
Cardiff played well & we just looked clueless. I don't remember seeing a miracle in the 2nd half, but we somehow got the 3 points. Any neutral will say Cardiff deserved at least a point. As for me, I don't care. Tonight the result counted, I'll wait for a dominant performance in another game.
caversham royal
This was a very good & important result against a very useful looking Cardiff team. The thing that stood out for me was the collective effort & spirit of the team which was typified by the way all 10 outfield players celebrated both goals en-mass. Having said that, there were one or two areas I remain unconvinced by. Our midfield at times had far too many gaps in it, and the Cardiff players were often given too much room going forward to run at the defence unchallenged. In an attacking sense, the midfield at present seems to need the calmness & assurance on the ball Watson brings. Harper has been oustanding in recent times, but on Tues looked a little uncertain in possession (although too his credit he was always looking for the ball & put in plenty of effort). A Watson/Sidwell partnership might give us more solidity & nouse in the middle. What to do with Hughes still seems a mystery. I've read more than a few comments on the discussion board knocking him, but he did quite a few good things Tues, including having a decent part in the 1st goal. But all his good work came from the middle, not the left which was where he was supposed to be, as he constantly strayed further & further over. Shorey made a fair few errors for him, but this could be explained by the fact that Hughes wanderings left him alone & exposed much of the time. Hughes would make a good sub to be put on in the middle to use his pace later on in the game, but starting on the left?? Perhaps not. Good to see Forster breaking his league duck, but the greedy git still needs to learn the art of PASSING. Despite the fact it was his lay-off that set up Sidwell's winner, there were many occasions (especially a break away in the 2nd half which looked at least 4 men to 2 in our favour) when his selfishness cost the team good goal scoring opportunities. Lastly, I noted the 'music after goals' has come into force despite many voices against it. However, everyone where I was in the East Stand seemed to love it, so hey..... But please our 'mates in the P.A Box'...can you stop playing Status flippin' old has-been Quo EVERY time we win at home after the match??? It's the perfect way to instantly spoil a good evening. COME ON.......(unless you're a Quo fan)
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