NATIONWIDE LEAGUE DIVISION TWO
LUTON TOWN 3 READING 1
Attendance: 6,044
Scorers: Caskey Date: 22 January 2000
Team: Howie, Bernal, Primus, Polston, Gray (Nicholls), Smith (Evers) Caskey, Parkinson, Gurney, Forster, Scott (Williams).

Audio: Supplied by Classic Gold radio.
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Match Hero:

In recent weeks every Reading fan has been consoling themselves with the thought that things can only get better. Unfortunately it looks like things are going to get a whole lot worse before they improve as we move closer and closer towards the exit to Division Three. This was our thirteenth match without league victory and there were no signs we're any closer to ending that run. This defeat means Reading slip one more place - to twenty second - as each week passes the trouble just gets deeper. It's hard to imagine Second Division survival right now, and relegation will have very very serious consequences on the club. This performance was the same as any other - we had no ideas of how to score goals - which will always prove fatal. The score line may be slightly misleading as Reading were always in the game and could have shared the points if they'd turned possession into goals. However the eventual outcome was no surprise at all - Luton had done all they'd needed to do to take all three points.

Luton had three key players missing through suspension as the game kicked off, and although they're pushing for a play-off place, this is the kind of game we need to at least get a point from if we have any chance of survival. So it was promising when Reading got off to a good start, but not promising that we failed to create enough chances. The first half was pretty even but Luton were always looking sharper up front. Reading weren't doing too much wrong in the first half of the field, but in the second they were slow and showing a complete lack of desire in front of goal. We've forgotten how to put the round thing into the back of the net. Keith Scott really should have completed the task when presented with the ball on the six yard box. He took too long and was tackled. But apart from that we weren't carving open any clear cut opportunities - with no final ball being provided to the front men. As usual it was just the couple of long shots, this time from Gurney, that weren't threatening enough. Luton on the other hand took their chance to take the lead, after about twenty minutes. They won a free kick just outside the box, and worked it nicely into the box where it was headed down and into the back of the net past Howie. So, 0-1 at half time.

Reading provided themselves with the perfect chance to get something out of the game on the hour with a rare piece of intellegent running from Darren Caskey. The ball was quickly played upfield from Howie to Gray to Evers who provided Caskey with the ball. Caskey somehow managed to beat the offside trap, although it might have been a generous decision to let him run on by the referee, and Caskey strolled forward onside. Caskey, the only man that seems to score for the Royals nowdays, rounded the keeper and drove home into an empty net for his thirteenth goal of the season. 1-1. For a brief moment Reading looked good for a draw.... if only we'd pushed forward and gone for the win rather than settling for that which was always going to be a mistake.

Five minutes later and it looked like it was 1-2. Primus was beaten on the wing and the ball crossed, played down and driven post Howie in the Reading goal. Fortunately it was disallowed for hand ball when he'd contolled the cross. Not that it made any difference. Just a couple of minutes after that and it was 1-2. The ball was played in, the Luton forward had all the time in the world with no challenge coming in, and it was an easy goal well scored.

With time running out Reading started playing further forward, slightly. This gave Keith Scott another golden chance to score after being set up by Caskey. This time he hit it right at the keeper when he should have blasted it into the Luton net. Reading were again having most of the play as time started to run out. We went more attacking in formation to hunt down the equaliser with Gray leaving the pitch to be replaced by Nicholls - but it didn't make much difference as Luton just played deeper - packing their defence to maintain their lead. Reading put on a bit of pressure but didn't really know what to do at the end of it all. As the game entered injury time Reading continued to push players forward leaving it wide open at the back - it had to be done. So it was no surprise when the ball was cleared long to find their forward in acres of space to run on goal and fire past Howie. 1-3, and it was all over.

Post Match Opinions

Reading played fairly good football for the first twenty minutes, and for the second half after Luton had retaken the lead. However, we made awful mistakes, especially one where a Luton player just ran through the whole of our defence but then messed up the shot. Keith Scott looked totally incapable of scoring. Nicky Forster didn't look worth anything like 650,000, as when he got the ball he couldn't get through the defence.
At least when Williams came on, he started running at defenders, however Keith Scott doesn't jump up for the ball, he probably thinks he doesn't need to, but if he did, he might be able to out jump defenders and score. Madejski really needs to invest a lot of cash for the management to spend on a decent striker and midfielder. I thought Caskey played pretty awful, this was summed up when he attempted a long shot near the end, which went way over the top.
Luton's Douglas, a striker looked like he might be a good signing for the Royals, as he destroyed our defence a couple of times, or Cambridge's Benjamin or Butler. Reading's defence on the day was pretty good, however our goalkeeper, Howie, Shouldn't need to run right out of his area at least three times to stop Luton scoring, like he did on the day.
I don't really know how Reading have been playing in other matches, as I've only been to a couple as I know longer live in Reading, but they never looked like scoring at all against Luton. Reading got the ball, it was passed out to the sides, the ball was then passed to the wide midfielders, and then the ball was lost, which happened time and time again.
I think the only thing the fans can do, is stick with the team, and keep on supporting them until they get better!
-- Tom Smith

Ever wondered why Reading have been battling out draw after draw and conceding so few goals but at the same time scoring so few as well? Well the answer was shown with a practical demonstation this afternoon by the Royals. We defended well, Howie made some good saves, BUT when we got the ball in midfield we passed it side-ways, we stopped, everyone looked around, we passed it side-ways again until we were dispossessed, and the cycle started over. The strike force of Scott and Forster looked on in anticipation but found themselves going back into midfield to try and get a touch.
Reading's midfield is TOO DEFENSIVE.
The only player who seems to go forward when he can is Caskey, his goal this afternoon came from a direct pass in front of him as he was running in on goal. You could put Dwight & Cole up front in the Reading team and they would go home empty handed with Caskey being the only scorer. Our other problem is nobody seems to make any runs off the ball, this is also due to the defensive nature of our midfield. Unless we buy some midfield runners who will try and get forward and the management get the players to make runs off the ball we are going nowhere but down.
Watching Reading is now becoming tedious, I am getting very bored with the style of play and the predictable results. 200 pounds and expenses to watch Reading battle out a draw against the likes of Leyton Orient next season....
NO THANKS

-- Deano

After another disasterous result, action needs to be taken. First thing Monday morning the dismissal of the management (or resignation). Secondly, the instant appointment of Mark McGhee before he signs for someone else which all supporters know will happen somewhere before the end of the month. After listening to Classic Gold on Saturday it was quite clear a high percentage of fans will respond to his return by coming back to support their team. I think his return would put at least 9,000 bums on seats - a great improvement in just one game. I myself and six friends have gone from watching every home game and at least ten away games to only watching two home games this season,and at the moment have no wishes to return, until the return of the Mac!
-- Simon

I am sick of people bleating on about Mark McGhee, agreed he was successful at Reading after a decidedly dodgy start. Since leaving Reading his lack of success has been blatantly obvious despite spending huge sums of money at Wolves, so why does anybody think he would succeed now with our current bunch of donkeys. Also why do we think he would be loyal to Reading now as he obviously didn't give a shit when he buggered off before.
Our problem now is we have a shedload of inferior players on long, lucrative contracts, and they also don't give a shit about the club, so I say we must cut our losses and offload as many as we can to anybody who will have them. We must keep a few key players and blood a few more of our future stars from the academy, they can't do any worse surely! Perhaps we should get a certain Mr M. Gilkes back as I see he managed to score for Millwall this weekend against Gillingham!
Although I am a loyal supporter I would certainly think twice about renewing my season ticket if we drop through the trapdoor into div. 3 and I definitely wouldn't if McGhee ever came back!

-- Trevor

I agree with Simon's pre Luton comments, most supporters who would welcome Mark McGhee back to the fold. Why can't John Madejski berry the hatchet and bring him back. His presence will bring back those disillusioned supporters and reduce the monthly financial losses, and secure a place next year in this division. If not the club will be relegated and the financial burden will undoubtedly increase further.
-- Paul

I heard "Pards" on the radio this morning (Monday) and he said he realised that if we don't get a win quickly, he believes his position will be "no longer tenable" 13 games without a league win means he has already crossed that line. Pardew was never a "Top Flight" player and I cannot think of an instance where a mediocre player turned out to be a brilliant Manager.
I am prepared to be proved wrong but even then, it will probably be the exception that proves the rule. I agree that if McGhee came back, or any other Manager or Player/manager with a proven record as a winner, the level of attendance's would go up instantly and with maybe only a few strategic acquisitions (which the Chairman has already said he is willing to fund), we could be saved for this season and build for the next. Mark McGhee made a bad call when he left us for Leicester. The fans (also known as paying customers!!!) want him back. He has said publicly that he would like to return to Reading. He is obviously willing to eat humble pie with the Board and the Board in turn should admit that, given the financial restrictions they themselves will place on any new would be Manager of Reading, McGhee is the best option available.
If you think the 2nd Division is hard to escape, wait til you experience the "blood and guts making up for lack of skill" approach in the 3rd.
Please Mr Chairman, be Presidential now, before its too late.

-- Depressed of Binfield.

Why do so many people keep calling for Mark McGhee to return? He is one of the architects of our current plight. He did little on his own (remember Neale Cooper, Ray Wallace and other well judged signings?) and the team only began to improve with the appointment of Colin Lee. If he is so good, why has he been sitting at home whilst a number of management opportunities have gone past? Why has Wolves form improved since he left and Lee was allowed to continue on his own? Who scrapped the reserves and destroyed the youth system at the club? Whose team was based around youth players inherited from the regime of Ian Branfoot? (This much reviled manager has gone on to be director of the highly successful Sunderland academy)
McGhee, that's who!!
I agree with Pardew as quoted on teletext when he asks if anyone would succeed with the current situation. The need for new blood is screamingly obvious but until we can shift the well paid wasters currently wearing the blue and white hoops he has very little chance of success. However calling for his head will not move them on, so instead of berating the management, let's try and get through to the guilty parties how we feel about their lack of pride in the club and in their own performances.

-- "Pebejay"

Please do something Mr Mad ,this cannot go on Messrs, or should it be messers, Pardew and Goodman obviously have no idea how to turn things around the results if anything are worse than when Burns and Bonner were in charge. They do not seem willing to try anything new just the same stereotyped way of moving sideways . Bring in new ideas McGhee,would at least offer some new thinking Mr Mad please forget the past its the future that counts now.
I am sure that McGhee is a much more circumspect character now ,he will realise if he got up to his old tricks he might as well emigrate to a desert island pretty fast. I am sure Messrs P and G are really nice guys but I do question there managerial qualities. I work with a guy who supports Carlisle Utd,several months ago I said we would both be supporting teams in the Conference league,its looking more like many a true word spoken in jest.
From a sad,dissolusioned fan.

-- Peter

Are we really going to have the best Ground in the Third Division?
I hope not, but what I see every week gives me a horrible gut feeling.
How long are we going to have to put up with a team that cannot score? Is chucking thousands of 's at a new striker or even two the right answer. Well no doubt it will help, but unless they are 6ft 5" plus and run as fast as a Grand National winner, then the final ball they will receive from the rest of the team { Darren of course excluded } is just not good enough.
Is it right that everytime Scott Howie hoofs the ball down field that the opponents will win it with ease and then turn it in to an attack? Is it right that the fullbacks do not make themselves available enough { or even look interested enough } to receive the ball from the goalie from a quick throw and change defence into a quick attack??
Is it right that we have only two options with our outfield passing { Not getting at you Darren } . A hoof upfield to the opposition or sideways. Is it right we should have at least one forward that has no pace, does not jump for the ball, does not win the ball, moans to the referee about how hard done by he has been. Unless the ball lands on his head and he in unchallenged then we will not see many goals from this forward. Is it right this player should get a regular run in the team? Then please tell me why we continue to play the same way each week. Can the management and the rest of the players in the team not see that the direct football to the current forward line is not the way to play?
If these are our only strengths then GOD Help us.
Change the tactics.
I know Tommy Burns has taken the club backwards at least 2 years, but please Mr Madejski show faith in the Current Management team by backing them financially. I think the team needs it. I think we all need it. Lets stay in this division this year and then build for the future.

-- Mark

Just a quick note to say we are terrible and my opinion on why:
* Tommy Burns under estimated the standard of football in the English league. Understandable as he has never played or managed in England until Reading. However Readings Board of Directors showed their Niaivity in allowing this to happen.
* Following on from the above, Readings Board (and yes I know Maurice Evans is now involved- but he is a remnant from the fifties) have no real football experience. Until this is put right we will continue to appoint sub standard managers. Look at the potential managers currently up for grabs Chris Kamara, Peter Beardsly could be tempted (McGhee did it from scratch) - McGhee himself - Alan Ball (at least we would have a team of battlers -rather that than the push overs we have at the moment) - I'm sure the list is endless.
* Why do all our players suffer from niggling long term injuries. No reserve team football to ease them back in is why. Surely if John Madjeski can stump up 250k to cover monthly losse he can stretch it to 300k to cover a reserve team.
* Also lets get out of this mentality that managers and players will want to come to Reading and we don't go looking for them attitude. Lets face it we are a 3rd division outfit (almost) so why would people want to join us?
* Why doesn't Madejski do something to push up the attendances. For eg - Matt Le Tissier is unhappy at Saints - Gazza could be prised away from 'Boro - Fulham did it with Best and Moore so why not Reading. We have the money in John Madejski to do it, and another 10,000 on the gate which signing both the above would give, would realise an additional 140,000 gate revenue. This would then give money to spend on better players which would lead to a climb up the league which would lead to better gates which would lead to more money and so on.......
In Essence something needs to be done to break the current downward spiral or we WILL drop out of the league.
If Reading Football club can't see this then lets extend the hotel onto the pitch and forget about football altogether.

-- Simon Palmer

Having watched Reading through thick and thin for the last 15 years many of which as a season ticket holder I can honestly say this is the worst team I have ever seen and like many fans I am seriously considering giving up on the club as I am sure I can find a better use for the 1000 + spent on this club home and away.
The team has no idea on how to break teams down and although I was prepared to give Pardew and Gorman some time it is obvious they can not motivate the team in any shape or form I mean look and Steve McMahon even he has managed to motivate a change of direction at Blackpool now that is taking the piss. What do the team do in training on all to many occasions this season (sorry the last 3) there is no movement off the ball during set pieces now surely the first rule of football is to try and make space for yourself. The Chairman is non committal in his attitude to the team and my sources tell me he would be happy to become chairman of the Mad house complex with someone else running the football side where by he would lease the ground to the club if a consortium could be put together.
What I want to see from the club and the chairman is a clear message showing the clubs ambition and the removal of the current management if they are not going to be backed substantially. As many fans have stated I would welcome back Mark Mcghee cause lets face it he will be motivated and have something to prove as there will be a small pocket of fans to win over again. If he only produced a half decent team from these bunch of no hopper's we would stay up where as at the moment we are a relegated team make no mistake about it.
Come on Chairman bite the bullet and act now!

-- Adam

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