READING 2 BURY 0 Attendance: 5,393
Scorers: Scott, Williams Date: 20 October 1999
Team: Whitehead, Hodges, Bernal, Hunter, Primus, Gurney, Parkinson, Grant, Caskey (Smith), Williams, Scott (McIntyre).
Audio: Nope / Not yet Match Hero: Primus

Like the Wigan match. But the other way round. This time it was Reading playing the controlled, assured defensive performance - grabbing a goal just before half time and again in injury time right at the end of the game. This was a victory well deserved by the Royals, and they did it with sensible football rather than all out entertainment. Hopefully this result will see Reading heading in the right direction, but who can tell? There were definately lots of improvements on show, particually at the back, and three points is three points. At last - Pardew's second win since the departure of Tommy Burns.

Reading kicked off in front of their lowest league attendance ever at the Madejski Stadium, on a bloody cold night, with a couple of changes to the starting eleven that were stuffed by Wigan on Saturday. With Forster injured, Scott made a return up front - although it was obvious at times that he wasn't fully fit. In midfield Grant was a straight swap for Smith who was on the bench instead. Perhaps the most noticable change was at the back with Casper being replaced by Barry Hunter. And what a difference it made. Our back three of Primus, Hunter, and Bernal looked solid as anything. Although the aging Skippy might not be picked in front of Polston he didn't do much wrong tonight, but was still completely overshadowed by two confident and totally solid performances from Linvoy and Hunter.

The first half wasn't up to anything that special with a fair bit of both sides hoofing the ball around in the air before it settled down a bit. The first half against Wigan was probably better, but then Wigan were a better side. After 45 minutes we were definately on top. It was Bury who could have taken the lead though within the first 15 minutes. The ball was played down the middle and collected inside the box by Lawson for Bury, Whitehead came out to save the close range shot and the ball bounced straight back into the path of the striker who somehow managed to get his leg onto it before the defender and hook it forwards. The rebound shot found the post rather than the back of the net and bounced to safety. Reading reacted immediately with Gurney moving the ball forward and being the first of many Reading players on the night to put in a powerful long range effort that was tipped over the bar by the Bury keeper.

On about the half hour it looked like it was going to be the same old story again as Whitehead needlessly conceeded a penalty. The ball was running loose far out on the right hand side (Whitehead's left) of the box. It was probably going well wide and the Bury forward might not have even been able to do anything with it. However as he broke forward Whitehead went down and hooked the leg of the forward away from under him. A penalty far more obvious than last Saturday's and more than a little frustrating for our new keeper to be giving them away. Up they stepped then, and to our complete relief blasted the ball onto the top of the crossbar to the right to send the ball flying into orbit. A lifeline for Reading. Which we took.

Williams went close after turning on the edge of the box and firing a powerful shot goalbound which was tipped over for another corner. We started pushing men further forward, and even Primus was legging it down the right wing playing the ball around up front. Caskey had a free kick that flew dangerously into the middle of the crowd of players in the Bury box - but came to nothing. But with about five minutes of the half remaining we made proper use of the wings for the first time in the game. Gurney got down the right wing - got right to the touchline and whipped in a great cross across the face of the Bury goal. There was Scott with a defender stuck to him at the far post. In true Scott style he made sure he took the advantage, and as he went in for the ball with his marker he put his head onto it to send the ball flying into the back of the net. 1-0 to the Royals! A reason to be happy at the Madejski at last.

After Dylan Kerr made a guest half time appearance much to the delight of all home fans, the second half started in much the same way. Another Reading long shot from the edge of the area off the boot of Andy Bernal heading goalbound and needing to be tipped over the bar. It wasn't long though until Bury started taking control of the game. There was a good 20 minutes of solid Bury play, during which they did nothing but hold the ball up within the Reading half. However they found it near impossible to break through the Reading defence. I think that's the first time this season I've typed that. Any high balls played into the box were instantly headed clear by Linvoy "the wall" Primus who simply was not beaten all night. Linvoy at last looks back to his wall-like self, every challenge he went for he came off best. Hunter was Primus looked inspired together with Hunter making a couple of vital tackles to keep it tight at the back. Hunter picked up a booking when he was about to be beaten and was the last man which could have cost a goal had he not pulled his man to be floor. Nice one Barry.

A couple of times Bury did break through, more so after Gurney was given a torrid time by the Bury substitute, but the most they could do was shot directly at Whitehead two or three times. Bury were probably a little unlucky with their shots finding Whitehead in the right place at the right time, but Whitehead did well to hold on to everything put in his direction.

I've got too used to watching Reading throw away one goal leads and as time ticked on all I was expecting was 1-1. But Reading continued to defend well and nip forward for the odd on-target long range shot. Sarr was forced to wait on the bench as McIntyre was the natural replacement for the knackered hero that was Keith Scott. Smith replaced Caskey in midfield. As time ticked past 90 minutes Reading appeared to have it sown up at last. With home fans streaming to the exits it was of course time for the traditional injury time Madejski Stadium goal to remind me exactly why it's not a good idea to leave early. McIntyre and Hodges exchanged passes and the ball was cross from left to right finding Martin Williams in the box. Williams nodded the ball down, it bounced and through the arms of the keeper into the back of the Bury net. YES. 2-0. A much deserved goal for Williams who'd worked his arse off up front all night long.

The problem all season long so far has been the defence. If Whitehead stops giving away stupid penalties then we have the goalkeeper - he was great in the second half. At the back we've got to keep three central defenders - and sadly Casper isn't one of them. With Hunter and Primus back there it seems as safe as anything. Tonight was only our second league clean sheet of the season. If we keep tonight's team we should stop leaking goals. Up front we may have missed Forster and will continue to do so but if Williams trys as hard as he did tonight and Scott keeps irritating defenders and sticking his head on the ball we might just be alright. Great result tonight lads, same again against Oldham please.


Post Match Opinions
An improved performance and a great result. Spot on tactics from Pardew, A word to the tiresome boo boys; Mcintyre was absolutely the right sub for an obviously knackered Scott, and his (Mac's) astute pass set up the Hodges cross for Williams extremely well-deserved goal (great to see us sealing the points for a change!). Yes, we have a lot of under-achieving players but last night proved that with determination and effort we can win games. Men of the Match? Linvoy 'they shall not pass' Primus and The Kid, who ran his socks off and showed commitment many doubters thought had gone for good. Saturday is a perfect opportunity to get our first away points in ages, let's keep that momentum going!! -- Steve Morris
Don't get too carried away, Bury were not a very good only we were slightly better and rode our luck. A right back must be a necessity for Pardew as yet again Gurney was turned inside out by an ageing Littlejohn. A wide man with pace aka Gilksey must be installed in the team immediately - Whilst Scott is in the starting lineup we need someone who WANTS TO run down the touchline and put in decent crosses ! Let's hope that the team spirit can be maintained for the Oldham game and with a bit of luck we can come away from Boundary Park with all 3 points. -- Rob Sadler
I agree with your overall match report, but the bit about Barry Hunter being commanding at the back, I'm sorry you must have been watching a different game, he got skinned time and time again, he was getting caught ther wrong side of his man, and being done for speed every time, it was only their poor finishing that saved us. Nice to get a win though, hopefully we can build on this. -- Andy Wilson
Although it was a relief to see the Royals win at last we still seem to lack the cohesion necessary to go forward in the league. Obviously we are all extremely happy with this victory (and honestly- I'm not meaning to be a miserable git!) but there is still a long, long way to go. With the exception of Caskey we desperately need to improve on our distribution and our set pieces. Lets hope that we can build on this win and that Peter Grant develops football skills comparable to his gift for shouting at his team mates! -- Warwick
A much improved performance, the whole team looked up for the game, Williams and Scott never stopped chasing up front, the back three of Bernal, Hunter and Primus looked very solid, and the midfield got stuck in. Nice to see a clean sheet. -- Russell Williams
We rode our luck, both Primus and Williams were outstanding, but Gurney .... he has got to be one of the worst defenders ever to play for the club, surely we must have someone better to play in his position, hopefully it will be Murty when he's fit. -- Garry Leister
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