Match Report vs Huddersfield

21 March 1998 (League Division One)
READING 0 Huddersfield 2

Team: Hammond, Legg(Roach), Primus, Davies, Bernal, Lambert, Parky, Caskey, Meaker(Bowen), Lovell, Williams
Subs(not used): O'Shite

Att: 8,500

Oh well, that's that then. Alan Pardew certainly did all that could be expected of him. He dropped the ineffectual O'Shite and the clearly not fit Ray Houghton, and brought in Caskey and Meaker, he reverted to 4-4-2 with Skippy in his natural right-back position, and he used his substitutions to try and turn things around sonner rather thasn later. The result was a stirring and skillful performance, more like the Reading of old, but ultimately we paid the price for not having good target men to capitalise upon all the excellent build up play.

The first half in particular was excellent, and if we'd scored before the break, I think that we'd've run out handsome victors. The best chance was when Meaker played a one-two with Parky, who skillfully back-heeled into Meaker's path, but Meaker's drive into the bottom corner was well pushed round for a corner by the goalie. The next best two chances fell to Primus on the edge of the penalty area, and he demonstrated emphatically why it is that he uses his aerial dominance in defence. Elm Park has not seen such wayward shooting since ManUre's Andy Cole's visit a couple of seasons ago.

Meaker was up for it, and won lots of corners as usual. Caskey impressed in the first half, but faded towards the end. Parky did his usual quota of "firm" tackles", but also played some good passess too! The defence looked solid, with Primus winning every ball in the air. The only thing that was lacking was a front-line. Martin Williams looked out of sorts, and Archie's only contribution to the game as far as I saw was an unpenalised shove in the goalie's back at a corner which allowed a free Reading header, unfortunately off target. It must have been a long night at Utopia.

The Huddersfield goals were both daft. The first was like several we've seen this season. A Huddersfield plauer receives the ball a good two yards offside, and the Reading back-line stop for a whistle that never blows. Hammond got a hand to the shot, but it trickled into the net. On came young Neville for Andy Legg, switching to 3-4-3 to try and salvage something from the game. Constant Reading pressure, although, sadly, not looking like scoring by this time, and Huddersfield hoofed the ball up to try and relieve the pressure. Hammond races out of his box to act as sweeper, is challenged by an on-rushing Huddersfield forward, the ball squirts free and trundles half the length of the pitch into the empty goal.

Full marks to the crowd for staying behind the team. Let's hope that someone up front is brought in today. It's surely too late in the season now for us to escape the drop, but I hope that we can meet at least two targets in the run-in

1) Beat/draw with Wolves, thus depriving them of a play-off place

2) Win handsomely against Norwich

Here's some snippets from The Sunday Times:

Writing is on the wall for Reading
Adam Parsons
READING will move into a new stadium at the end of this season and they had hoped to celebrate the occasion as a fresh beginning. At this rate, though, it will be more like a wake.

Unless they enjoy a change of fortune, Reading will be relegated. They have seven games to go this season, five against teams who hope to earn a place in the Premier League.

A few days before this game, Terry Bullivant resigned as team manager after growing weary of the constant jibes by disenchanted fans. His replacement, Alan Pardew, could hardly have been pitched into a more demanding situation.

They did not deserve to lose, although nor did their efforts merit victory. For much of the second half they were the better team, but Huddersfield Town had the superior strikers. For all the worthy efforts of Darren Caskey, Michael Meaker and Andy Legg, Reading never looked likely to convert possession into goals.

Huddersfield seemed likely to score only on the break, and so it proved. Having played their part in a sterile first half, the visitors spent much of the second period in defence. Then David Phillips produced some inspiration, a clever pass to find Paul Barnes. His cross was met by Marcus Stewart and, despite the lunge of Nicky Hammond in the Reading goal, the ball trickled into the net.

Hammond had been playing with a painkilling injection that numbed his hand and felt that, if fit, he would have saved the shot. It was bad luck for Reading and more was to follow as Phil Parkinson's goalbound header, a certain equaliser, hit a teammate, Stuart Lovell, and bounced clear. Minutes later, Stewart completed the misery with a calm shot from distance that eluded the onrushing Hammond.

For Reading, things are growing ever worse. For the first time this season, they are bottom of their division.

Reading: Hammond, Bernal, Legg (Roach 77min), Davies, Primus, Caskey, Meaker (Bowen 69min), Parkinson, Lovell, Williams, Lambert.

Huddersfield Town: Harper, Phillips, Edwards, Browning (Neilson 54min), Collins, Gray, Richardson, Barnes (Hessey 86min), Stewart, Allison, Johnson.

Scorer: Huddersfield Town: Stewart 73, 88.

Referee: P Taylor (Cheshunt).

Attendance: 8,593.

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