(Half Time: 0-0)
Reading Scorers: Butler (54 minutes), Cureton (60 minutes).
Bury Scorers: -
Date: 24 October 2000
Attendance: 2,808

Reading: Whitehead, Robinson (Gurney, 12), Viveash, Mackie, Newman, Caskey, Jones, Parkinson, Cureton (Rougier, 85), Butler, Hodges (McIntyre, 82).
Subs not used: Hunter, Howie.

Bury: Kenny, Barrick, (Bhutia, 69), Daws, Collins, Swailes, Billy, Littlejohn (James, 75), Reid, Redmond, Preece, Unsworth.
Subs not used: Forrest, Barnes, Jarrett.

Bookings: Reid (Bury); Hodges (Reading).

The thrashing at Bristol on Saturday meant it was hard to know what to expect from an inconsistent Royals team, as we travelled to our former bogey ground Gigg Lane. Wins at Bury have been very rare over the years, but tonight Reading kept their heads to produce a thoroughly deserved third away win of the season. The first half was poor by anyone’s standards, but after the break we looked far more composed and confident, and the reunited strike force of Cureton and Butler was on fire again to secure the points.

Alan Pardew didn’t attempt to repeat the team selection which had backfired so severely the previous Saturday. Ricky Newman returned to the role of right back where he has performed so well this season, leaving Graeme Murty to sit out once again. The selection dilemmas were helped by the return to fitness of Phil Parkinson, who was able to play with Keith Jones in the middle. Pardew opted for Hodges to play on the left rather than McIntyre, with Cureton back in the starting eleven up front. The injured Adie Williams was replaced at the back by John Mackie, making his first league start for the Royals.

The team selection today was encouraging for the fans, who had been calling for Cureton and Butler to start together up front. It’s a shame for Jimmy McIntyre that he had to sit on the bench, since his performances this season have finally shown us what he is capable of. However, playing Cureton was the sensible thing to do against a Bury side that let in 5 to Bournemouth the previous week, so McIntyre had to settle for the bench. The bench saw a welcome return for Tony Rougier, who came on near the end for his first appearance since August.

The first half was a very poor display of football, with neither side managing to cope with the awful conditions and get a grip on the match. The ball was in the air most of the half, as both sides seemed content to aimlessly hoof the ball upfield. The Reading fans were screaming for the team to play football like we know they can, yet instead they seemed happy with playing high balls into the box that the Bury centre backs were having no problems dealing with.

Bury looked weak up front and failed to pose us any real difficulties throughout the match. Although having said that, I’m sure at half-time the Bury fans were wondering how we had scored so many goals this season. The notable chances of the first half saw close range free-kicks at either end. After Butler had been brought down right on the edge of the area, it seemed a great chance for Caskey to net his first free-kick of the season. However, he was unable to get any height on the ball and hit it into the wall. Bury had a similar chance, as the over-officious referee moved the ball forward ten yards after complaints from the Reading players. They opted for power, but this had the same result as it was straight into the wall.

The best chance of the half saw Cureton miss an opportunity to put Reading in the lead, as he found some space and raced through on goal. However, his finishing let him down, as the shot was hit straight as the keeper.

The referee’s performance got steadily worse throughout the first half. As well as ignoring a shocking tackle on Ricky Newman, he turned down two very strong penalty appeals from Reading, both for handball. The first saw a Bury defender punch the ball out of Jamie Cureton’s path as he tried to bundle the ball in. The second looked equally obvious, as a Bury defender knocked a cross away with his hand high above his head.

Thankfully the second half was a much improved showing from Reading. They seemed to realise that they were better than Bury, and controlled the game for the remainder of the match. Both goals came within fifteen minutes of the re-start, as Cureton and Butler linked up perfectly with a goal and an assist each.

The first was a cracking finish from Butler, sweeping the ball in after a cross from Cureton on the right. That gave the Reading players even more confidence, and the second goal wasn’t long in coming. A quick break found Martin Butler unmarked on the right. He raced forward, with Cureton making a run through the middle. Unselfishly, Butler drew the defender away and crossed for Cureton, who was left with a simple tap-in from close range.

There was no chance of a Bury comeback, and the remaining half an hour saw a celebration in the Reading end. It was a great following for such a long trip on a Tuesday night, and the scoreline encouraged a good atmosphere. Everyone was after news from Walsall, with the realisation that a slip-up from them would see us go top. Unfortunately, they beat Stoke 3-0 to stay top by two points.

The game stayed 2-0, and the result was justification for another sound performance from Reading. Man of the match should go to John Mackie, who stepped in for Adie Williams and played heroically. It’s testament to Mackie that we simply didn’t miss Williams tonight, as he formed an immediate partnership with ever-reliable Adi Viveash, and dealt superbly with anything Bury had to offer. There were also good performances from the much-improved Andy Gurney, who stepped in early on as Matt Robinson went off with another injury, and Ricky Newman at right-back. Cureton and Butler both got on the scoresheet once again, and must be confident for the home game against Oxford on Saturday.

This was a brave performance from Reading, who bounced back superbly from the Bristol result rather than letting it get to them. The Walsall result meant we couldn’t go top tonight, but surely it’s only a matter of time with Oxford on Saturday, and then the big one a week after that.

Report by Neil Cole.

Post Match Opinions

A rain soaked Gigg lane in fount of 2,808 people may not have been host to the result of the season, but it's sturdy displays like this that get you promotion. I thought Mackie and Newman should receive as much praise as the front pair. Mackie gave a solid, composed performance, worked well with Viveash and I thought he deserved his place ahead of Hunter. Bury definitely seem a flash in the pan with their recent top placing, can't see them sustaining a challenge for promotion. Bring it on!
-- Stevie P

After an awful drive to Gigg Lane in the pouring rain, it was a pleasure to see a recognisable Reading team playing as though they were serious about winning away from home. There was an obvious nervousness in the first half but once that first goal went in they were back to their winning ways. In fact, 2-0 should have been 4-0 if the referee had been wearing his glasses - there were two clear cut hand ball offences - the first when the Bury defender deliberately punched the ball clear and the second when the ball was "deflected" by another Bury hand.
Another good solid performance - the stars? well, apart from the attacking force, you must give praise to John Mackie on his full debut - he looks like becoming another in the Williams/Viveash/Hunter tradition. Adi had another solid game, Whitehead looks to be taking more control of his area, Parky was back to his best, Gurney, Robinson and Newman were equally solid, Caskey and Hodges were as advnturous and constructive as one now expects.
The only slight disappointment was Jones who still looks a long way off being match fit.
Perhaps we shall see Rougier back on Saturday! What are our chances of beating our best ever win?

-- Rodney - Always a Royal

Great solid performance, I am an Adie Williams fan as much as anyone but we didn't really miss him all that much! Two well taken goals, we should have had a bag load of penalties for blatent handballs but it never happened but it doesn't matter now we won!
-- Tom

I echo most of what's been said by other correspondents, but how about praise for the loyal Royals fans who made the long journey. I reckon their was over 600 of us, which is tremendous support and made the game seem like a home one due to the amount of noise we made. I can't sing the praise of young John Mackie high enough, a star is born. That's taking nothing away from Ade "colossus" Viveash who had another outstanding game, plus all the other players who were unrecognisable from the team that turned out at Bristol on Saturday.
They all worked their socks off and thoroughly deserved the victory. With us now having played nearly all the top teams were are still in good shape , 31 games left is a long way to go, but if we keep averaging two points every game, I'll make a bold prediction we'll go up as champions.
Bring on the Poxford...

-- Nick

Despite Virgin train's best attempts to stop me getting to this game I made it.Having skived off work early I left Euston at 2pm and didn't arrive in Manchester until 6.30pm.The train was slower than Keith Scott on a good day.To add insult to injury there was no beer on the train either. So for the first time, probably ever, I arrived at a Reading game with an alcohol level of precisely zero.
My god it makes a difference!
I could actually pick all eleven of my own players out and name them. I could see systems and formations, this was a whole new world to me. Trouble was, the first half was so poor I really did need a drink at half time, but all I could get was bovril. Second half we came out and really played with spirit and fight and dogged determination, just what was needed on a wet blustery night in Bury. Butler scored a corker, then after Caskey's delightful pass to beat the offside trap, sent Butler on his way to cross for Cureton to score in an empty net, fantastic. Game over.
Viveash was man of the match, he was absolutely outstanding, nothing got past him. Mackie had a stunning debut alongside him. Back to Manchester to see how many beers I could drink before closing time. Well done to the 150 - 200 Reading fans (definately wasn't 600), we sang our hearts out.

-- Russ. Essex Royal.

As a northern Royal I travelled over last night to see them in the flesh for the first time this season. I dont think anybody expected a cracking game considering the conditions and the fact that both teams were looking to rebound after suffering humiliating defeats in their previous games. In Readings case the Bristol debacle could be treated as an apparition and act as a mighty boot up their backsides. Likewise for Bury, being thumped by Millwall could have been a one off but to be humbled at home by Bournemouth would certainly have made them doubt their promotion credentials. I think this was partly apparent during the game.Although both sides gave 100 per cent it was the class of our forwards that clinched it. Unlike the Oxfords and Millwalls of this world I find I have an affinity with homely, unpretentious clubs like Bury. I think it almost a minor miracle that a club with a ground and gates that wouldnt look out of place in the Conference were until recently in the 1st division. I should think that on some occations the away support outnumbered the home fans.
At half time I went to the toilets.
Although clean and sanitised the urinals and plumbing looked like they had somehow survived the luftwaffe. It felt like a time warp, take away the fresh smell and concentrate on the blue and white paint and you could almost be back on the south bank.I think it will be a sad day if the money grabbing machine that undermines our beautiful game brings about the demise of teams like Bury.

-- Blackpool Royal

Got an Opinion?
Comment on this, or any Royals match - email opinion@royals.cx
Appropriate submissions will appear on match report pages!

HNA? Home Page
Copyright Hob Nob Anyone? © 1994-2000
The Original Reading Football Club Internet Site