READING 2 COLCHESTER UNITED 0
|Scorers: Caskey (2)||Date: 29 January 2000|
|Team: Howie, Gurney, Primus, Hunter, Robinson, Grant, Parkinson, Caskey, McIntyre (Hodges), Nicholls (Scott), Forster.|
by Classic Gold radio.
For an impressive debut...
The joy of being a Reading supporter. This was an entirely deserved victory, won by two well worked goals, both finished off by Darren Caskey, in a Madejski Stadium bubbling over with atmosphere. If we'd lost or drawn it would have been a record equaling fourteen games without league victory - but right from the start it was clear that the whole team were determined not to let it happen. I'd forgotten what it was like to get the full three points but, after such a wait, the feeling was relief, joy, and pure excitement all in one. Optimism has made a welcome return across the supporters, team, and staff of Reading Football Club. Sure, one swallow and all that, but there can be no doubt we're starting to move in the right direction. This long awaited win moves us out of the relegation positions for the first time since November of last year.
Matt Robinson made an impressive debut after signing from Portsmouth mid-week for 150,000 quid - as expected he stepped right into the left back position in a four man defence - with Primus and Hunter looking solid enough in the middle and Gurney at right back. Thankfully Robinson looks like exactly the kind of player we need. He was flying in all over the place with some great challenges but also looked comfortable on the ball to bring it forward - yet still get back in time when needed. Basically a great wing-back for the Second Division, and just the signing we've been after. It was no coincidence that the majority of Reading's chances came from down the left hand side after Robinson had won the ball and moved it forward. Everyone in the hoops had a great game, but Robinson has to take man of the match for slotting straight in with the team, like he's played with them for years, and also adding plenty of what we've been missing. In the centre of midfield we got a rare chance to see both Parkinson and Grant starting together. There's been plenty of discussion about how similar the players are, and if it's worth hanging onto both. On these display we definately need both. It may have been because of the opposition, and the type of game, but both players never stopped battling to win the ball in midfield, and helped us take the majority of possession. Perhaps neither player is blessed with amazing skill but when you're struggling in Division Two they both looked the part, especially with Parky back to his effective self.
About five minutes into the match the Beard Band arrived to take their place under the scoreboard to bang out some tunes. And from that moment onwards the atmosphere across the East Stand was fantastic with almost everyone joining in the songs and making plenty of noise. Even before Reading took the lead it was clear all the home fans, probably about 6,500 of them, were having fun. And it seemed to rub off on the players who were playing their guts out against a side way above them in the table who were also on the back of a great run of form. Reading took the lead after about 20 minutes. McIntyre did well down the left to provide Nicholls who jinxed his way into the middle of the box past a few players before prodding the ball to Caskey, just inside the box right of centre. Caskey seemed to take his time, but then made no mistake with the finish to drive the ball home. YES! 1-0 to the Royals.
For a change we didn't sit back on the lead and continued to make plenty of chances. Nicholls and Forster were both looking sharp upfront - even though they weren't really working together. Nicholls almost made it two with a shot from the edge of the box which was just millimetres wide of the right post. Gurney did well down the right to provide a cross that would have been a goal had someone made decent contact with it. Parky had a good chance inside the box too - the lob would have worked if the keeper had been off his line - but he wasn't. Down the other end, the away side failed to test Howie, who had had a quiet first forty-five minutes - apart from one disallowed goal. Colchester won a dubious free-kick on the right that was played into the box and headed onto the bar. Howie went down, the ball came back out into the face of goal and was headed into an empty net. It looked like the equaliser, but luckily was marginally offside. So, at half time it was looking good.
However the past few seasons have taught us all that a 1-0 half time lead just isn't enough. At the start of the second half Colchester made a double substitution and immediately looked a better side. Reading continued to keep it tight at the back and battle all over the park, but it was hard not to start expecting a 1-1 final score line. Half of the double substitution was Lua-Lua who was threading the ball all around the place and making our defence, that had looked unbeatable in the first half, look very shakey. Time after time he beat Gurney to cut in from the left. On one run he managed to beat Hunter, Primus and Gurney before shooting from the edge of the box, only to see Howie get down well to make the save. If Colchester had taken the ball further forward they might have grabbed the equaliser, but they were content to shoot from the edge of the area whenever they got the chance. If there's one thing Howie is really good at it's stopping long range shots. So Reading soaked up a bit of pressure, Howie made the saves, and then we turned the game into a real end-to-end game, before continuing where we'd left off in the first half by looking the better, more controlled side. We weren't shying off the tackles, and once we'd won the ball it would be played forward with a bit of urgency about it. It all made for great entertainment.
Forster did everything but score again, after being set up a couple of times down the left. He managed to beat his man twice to work his way towards the centre of the box before shooting. The second attempt curved delicously but just failed to make the target with the keeper beaten - instead it hit the wrong side of the post. Reading did eventually make it 2-0 with a brilliantly worked goal involving the majority of the side. Hodges, who had come on for McIntyre to bolster the midfield, was supplied with the ball on the left. He took it forward before passing to Nicholls who passed it on to Caskey, who fired home. 2-0 to the Royals! The stadium exploded into life once more as Reading fans started to celebrate a league victory at last. What a feeling. And then we just started to enjoy it, the fans and the players, with no risk of a Colchester come back. The songs of "It's just like watching Brazil..." were probably taking it a bit too far, but what the hell, we looked good for the victory.
Post Match Opinions
a game! If we were to play like that for the rest of the season, then
I can't see us dropping to division 3. The only fly in the ointment was
Macintyre, He to put it bluntly was crap, Ok he is just returning from
injury but his positional sense is on another planet, The player I felt
most sorry for was Forster! what has he got to do to score? He links well
with Nicholls (sign him up now Mr M.) A big Big thanks to Dazzling Daz
for 2 brilliant goals and the defence for holding firm. Where do they
dig up these referees from! Poor Forster gets booked for not handling
the ball (yes I know he threw the ball in temper) and the 2 footed tackles
go unseen, where is the consistency?
has been a long time coming, but finally, finally we won a league game
with an all round good performance.
fan-tastic atmosphere yesterday well done to everyone who joined in we
made a draw into a win and put Oxford into the relegation zone.
Why can we play like the players have never met before one week, then
go and beat a team who have won 4 in a row. Only one personel change,
who had a good game, no change of tactics and no change of formation.
I've heard many people say it was down to Martin Allen's enthusiasum,
but that can't be the only reason. Forster was class, Caskey normally
is, and Parky looked like the Parky we once knew and loved. Hard work
from Smith and McIntyre and nice touches from Nicholls all combined with
useful runs on the left wing by Robinson, with a good cross at the end,
something not seen for a while. Even Hunter looked solid, although our
defence was still split open too often. But what a difference a week makes.
think it is clear that we should get a regular band in for all home matches.
We have never had an atmosphere like this one and it undoubtedly has a
positive effect on both the supporters and players.
much improved display with the addition of a left sided player with the
ability to recover and defend and Grant and Parkie showing the dogged
ballwinning in the midfield area which has been lacking recently. I was
particularly impressed with Grant in the first half as he hunted down
the ball and made it difficult for Colchester to produce anything other
than a stream of high balls. Bread and butter for Primus and Hunter.
I really go the the Madejski Stadium on Saturday?
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