Match Report vs LEEDS

18 November 1997 (Coca-Cola Cup Round Four)

Att: 15,000

Team: Hammond, Bernal, Swales, McPherson, Primus, Houghton, Parkinson, Caskey (Hodges), Asaba, Morley, Williams.

Goal Scorers: Asaba (9 minutes), Williams (64 mins), Morley (85 mins)

Here's a match report from Phil Newton:

Ahhhhhhhh, luvverly, thats what it's all about.
I must confess to being very scared, the team news was odd, Houghton in for Lambert, so who was wide left? Things were quickly settled when we lined up as 4-3-3, Williams joining Morley and Asaba. Err, Whats going on, Terry "4-5-1 and go for the draw at home" Bullivant sends out 4-3-3 away at premiership Leeds who have scored 9 goals in their last 3 home games beating Derby, Newcastle and Man Utd?

Now I was VERY scared. But why?, 9 minutes in and a long ball from Linvoy sailed over Morley to the feet of Asaba, who turned but looked to be covered. Weatherall was having none of it tho' and ran straight into his mate leaving them both sprawled on the floor and our Carl with only Nigel "Englands number 4" Martyn to beat. and he did.

That was about it for the first half.
Despite the ground being empty (3'000 R's and 12,000 Leeds), we did our best, had a sing song as the game was played almost exclusively in our half, Wallace and Jimmy Quinnerbank were too quick, and their movement was excellent, time and again a last ditch leg from Parky/Linvoy/Macca was all that stopped them being clean through, as Leeds poured forward. Hopkin skipped through, but hit the bar, Wallace skipped through, but put it over, Riberio (?) had an excellent volley well saved by Nicky The Cat, and later put it over when he was unmarked 6 yards out.

Holding on for 80 minutes was looking impossible, and when Weatherall beat Linvoy by about 6 feet to put in the equaliser I thought that was it, our fun was over, especially when he did it again 2 minutes later, only this time it was cleared. It wasn't that we were playing badly, it's just that we looked like mid table first division, and they looked like the 5th in the Premiership Form Team.
Funny that.

The half time whistle was begged for and thankfully arrived.

A bright start in the second half was quickly flattened when Lee Bowyer scored again after 54 minutes, a good finish after a lucky bounce, and surely that was it, we were done for.
Oh No.

Ray Houghton gathered the boys round and said "listen lads, I'm a bit upset here, going out of the World Cup I can cope with, but the Coca Cola cup is the greatest sporting competition in the whole world, and I'm not going out yet. I'm going to win this game on my own, though if you boys want to lend a hand that would be nice."
Or something like that.

Anyways, Ray took control, and it was our turn to pour forward, and pour we did. A long free kick from Skippy found Macca on the edge of the box, his knock down found Williams falling over, but he still managed a good shot which Martyn parried and nobody followed up.

From then on it was ALL Reading, we stuck with the 4-3-3, and it worked beautifully, Houghton and Caskey ran the midfield, spreading it wide to Skippy/Swales at every opportunity, one of the front men would go and lend a hand out wide and things went from there. The equaliser was a perfect example. Skippy brought it forward, Asaba helped him out, on went Skippy into a great position, the cross was going to land, inch perfect, on Morley at the back post before Bowyer just got there. "NO!" he said,"you're going to score the winner, this one is for Williams", as he flicked it onto our Martin who looped a tasty header back over Nigel Martyn and into the net.

That was it, if anyone was going to win now it was us, and we poured some more. Time and again we made space and chances, shot's were blocked, last ditch tackles made and fouls committed as Leeds filled their pants.

The whole team were excellent, everybody wanted the ball and knew what to do with it, we played Leeds off the pitch, it was fantastic! Extra time was about as inevitable as Doncaster winning the World Cup, we surely had to score again. Once again, Swales came racing forward, a bit of jiggery pokery and he found Williams, a bit more jiggery pokery and he put in the cross for Little Trevor to beat 3 Leeds giants at the back post.
Cue Wembley songs.
Thankfully we didn't stop there and try and defend the last 5 minutes, we carried on coming forward. With no Meaker it was left to, er, The Whole Team to try the old corner flag bit, but Leeds were a mite better at Oxford at getting it back. There was some high jinx with 3 injury time corners, but we held on for a deserved victory.
Que sera sera...........

MOM was Ray Houghton, closely followed by Everybody Else, and surely we need to sing Ray's name a bit more. This time we got what we deserved, and succeeded where Man Utd, Derby and Newcastle have failed.

Leeds still looked like 5th in the Premiership, it's just that, in the second half, we looked 4th (honest!).


My little bit...

WHAT A RESULT! Firstly I'd like to hang myself for not making the trip up to Leeds, after expecting the worst. Secondly I'd like to say YES! Result of the season, game of the season, an unbelieve result. But I missed it. Shit.

Reading marched into the quarter finals of the Coca-Cola cup with a performance that will be remembered for years. A performance full of everything you want to see, so the radio told me throughout the night, a gritty battling display, full of passion, and the skill to put three past the team currently fifth in the premiership. And lets not forget we were away. If we can beat Leeds away, why not win the thing? ;-)

Bullivant's brave line up paid off. Everyone was demanding Williams should be back alongside Asaba in the team, but no-one wanted to drop the lethal force that is oo-Trevor Morley. So Bullivant played all three. And all three banged a goal in. What can you say apart from a fantastic managerial decision?

Reading made the perfect start, taking the lead after just 9 minutes. A mistake in the middle of the Leeds defence saw Asaba nip between the two central defenders, take the ball into the area, and then bury it with a powerful left footed drive.

Shortly afterwards it looked like taking the lead wasn't such a good idea as Leeds went mad. They hit the crossbar bar before scoring the inevitable equaliser. A corner from the right, a header in the middle, and 1-1. At that point it looked curtains for the Royals as the home side looked to take the lead. Reading held out though with cunning use of the offside trap and a couple of decent saves from Nicky Hammond in the Reading goal. The half time whistle couldn't have come sooner.

1-1 at half time. It was no surprise when Leeds took the lead ten minutes into the second half. A Primus back pass, cleared by Hammond but only to the advancing Leeds forward. He took it forward and drove it into the back of the net. 1-2. But Reading were far from dead and buried.

A great across field ball found Bernal on the wing. Bernal took it wide and crossed into the Leeds box. The defence headed outwards, but there was Martin Williams. His head connected and the ball was in the net. 2-2, and Reading storming. With the game heading towards extra time Reading delivered the killer blow.

Just five minutes on the watch remaining and then a perfect Williams cross from out wide, in the corner, on the left. Morley on the six yard line out jumped two defenders to score one of those goals that only ooTrevor scores. A sexy header into the right corner of the net with the keeper not quite getting down in time. The ball was in the back of the net. 3-2 to the Royals. The away fans went mad. YES!

Then the nervous last few minutes. Deep into injury time. Three Leeds corners in a row. The ball flew over the bar. Then the final whistle. And Reading had pulled off the most amazing result of the season. 3-2 away at Leeds and the result of two seasons ago revenged at last. It even makes up for the home defeat by Swindon.

Knew I should have got the time off.


Here's some stuff from Jon Keen:

I was never happy that Williams had been dropped for Morley, and my thoughts on Lambert & Meaker are no secret, so the formation last night was my dream team.

The performance was one of the best for a long long time - some of the things they tried were phenomenal - and worked, too! I particularly remember a long run from Steve Swales when he beat his man well and then back-heeled the ball for the cross, and another when he juggled the ball twice and then cleared it over his head. he wouldn't have tried that last year!

The whole team was inspired - but for me none more so than Swales and Bernal. They had lots of space, and used it so well, and with three up front they actually had someone to give the ball to for once.

Just shows what we can do when we believe in ourselves - and the pressure's off - i.e. we don't need to win and don't expect to win. The self-belief and commitment was phenomenal.

HAMMOND - 8. Did everything we could have expected of him, looked confident, had the confidence of the defence, too. Didn't make any stupid mistakes.

BERNAL - 10. Heroic defence at some cost to himself, made some great runs forward.

SWALES - 9 1/2 Did everything required in defence and more, created a lot coming forward, some lovely interplay and touches.

MACCA & PRIMUS - 9. There when we needed them, solid in the air, even against Wetherall (who seemed 7 ft tall). Some great tackles running back

CASKEY - 7 Anonymous for much of the game, but committed when he needed to be and got really stuck in with their no 4.

PARKINSON - 10 Still a changed man this season. 100% commitment, 100% aggression (but without hacking anyone's leg off), controlled much of the mid-field.

HOUGHTON - 7 1/2 Showed a lack of pace a few times when we needed it, but lots of commitment and aggression. For me, he doesn't seem to contribute that much himself, but seems to have a great effect on the others when he's playing.

ASABA - 8 Took his goal really well, and had a few half chances later. Led the line well, without doing anything spectacular.

MORLEY - 8 1/2 Playing quite wide, did pretty well, and again took the goal really well when it mattered.

WILLIAMS - 9 Yes, he still keeps falling over, and yes, he only beats his man half the time, but is always causing problems for the defence. Bags of enthusiasm, lots of good runs, didn't keep getting caught off-side. Wonderful goal - I thought it was going over, but he'd carefully looped the ball in over Martyn - showed great coolness when needed!

Really, though, it wasn't the individual players - it was the way they all worked together and played off each other that won it.

THE SEATS - 1 1/2 How is anyone 6 ft meant to sit there and not cripple their kneecaps? The seat in front just at the wrong distance and height to cause maximum discomfort. Sorry if it was you on my left, BTW - I've spent too long playing psychological warfare in airline economy seats to give in that knee space to you!

THE RFC LIST - 10 Thanks to whoever yesterday said we were 8-1 at the bookies. I put a fiver on and the whole trip and refreshments was paid for :)))))))


PS - Would love to see Liverpool at EP, but more likely we'll be away to Boro!

Here's the report from Soccernet:

Trevor Morley literally put the tin hat on it for George Graham at Elland Road. The veteran striker, who has to play with a metal plate in his head and is just back after six months out with a cruciate knee ligament injury, scored a right royal Coca-Cola Cup winner.

Leeds, fourth in the Premiership and with the scent of Wembley in their nostrils, were blown apart by an astonishing second-half display by Terry Bullivant's Reading.

The First Division side went ahead in the eighth minute thanks to Carl Asaba's strike after a schoolboy blunder when David Wetherall and David Robertson collided in the box. But seven minutes later Wetherall eased his hot flushes with a headed equaliser.

Lee Bowyer contributed Leeds' second early in the second half and had appeared to have put them within touching distance of a quarter-final place. But Leeds then suffered from an amazing attack of role-reversal as Reading began to dictate the clash.

In the 67th minute enterprising front man Martin Williams headed home his side's equaliser and six minutes from the end Morley produced a signature header to mark the first bright spot in almost two years of gloom.

Emergency surgery on a head wound two years ago, following a clash with Portsmouth's Jon Gittens, forced Morley out of the game for six months. Last night was only his second appearance after another half-year on the sidelines with a knee problem.

The 36-year-old, who has plied his trade with Northampton, Manchester City and West Ham, said: 'During all the bad times you dream of scoring goals like that in places like this. Nothing will ever make all the pain I went through go away but nights like this help you to forget it all for a while.'

Reading's 1,000 travelling supporters could not believe their eyes as their unlikely heroes efficiently took Graham's side to bits in that final half-hour and gained revenge for a 2-1 quarter-final defeat at Elland Road two seasons ago.

Graham, doing his best to rid himself and his club of their boring tag, had warned his players against complacency. It appeared, after a sticky start, they had taken heed. But, as Graham, said: 'In the second half we lost the plot. We could have had the game wrapped up before the interval but after that, even when we were 2-1 ahead, Reading were playing better than us and on the second-half performance they deserved to win.

'For some reason we were sloppy at the back, we lost control in midfield and the front players didn't hold the ball up - we lost through a combination of mistakes in all three departments.'

Graham's summing-up was a brutal indictment of his team's inept performance during those final, fatal 30 minutes but Reading's display was no surprise to Bullivant.

He said: 'At half-time a lot of the players thought we were doing well to be holding Leeds at 1-1. But I had a bit of a go at them and told them to start believing in themselves more. That's just what they did.

'Now we don't mind who we get in the next round. Anybody will tell you that we can turn over the best of them on a floodlit night at Elm Park.'

Leeds (4-4-2): Martyn; Maybury, Radebe, Wetherall, Robertson; Hopkin, Ribeiro, Haaland (Molenaar, 75min), Bowyer; Hasselbaink (Lilley, 75), Wallace. Booked: Ribeiro.

Reading (4-3-3): Hammond; Bernal, Primus, McPherson, Swales; Parkinson, Houghton, Caskey (Hodges, 89); Asaba, Morley, Williams. Booked: Morley, McPherson.

Referee: Graham Barber.

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