BRISTOL CITY 3 READING 3 (Half Time: 2-3)
Hughes (2 mins), Forster (5 mins - pen), Watson (14 mins).
Bristol City Scorers: Peacock (6 mins), Bell (13 mins - pen), Robinson (59 mins).
30 March 2002
Reading: Reading: Whitehead, Murty, Watson, Williams, Forster, Hughes (Harper 64), Cureton (Branch 54 (Rougier 83) ), Parkinson, Mackie, Shorey, Salako. Subs not used: Talia, Viveash.
Bristol City: Phillips; Bell, Burnell, Carey, Lever, Murray; Tinnion, Doherty, Robinson (Rodrigues 90); Matthews (Thorpe 58), Peacock.. Subs not used: Stowell, Hulbert, Coles.
Bookings: Matthews (City), Watson, Parkinson, Shorey (Reading).
Report by John Wells
My ears are still ringing from the noise generated by the 3000 Royals fans packed into the Wedlock Blackthorn Stand, before, during, and after this superb game of football. The team were also up for this game and stormed into a two goal lead in four minutes. I think it would be fair to say the referee helped City back into the game with a couple of decisions that would
usually not have been given. Had we not dropped so many points recently, most Reading fans would not have been too unhappy with a draw. The fans and the players deserved a better result today. When the dust settled however what happened today was our huge lead at the top of the league has been whittled away to almost nothing by Brighton and Brentford, and the reality of the situation is that we now have a real fight on our hands to achieve automatic promotion.
Hughes opened the scoring with a header at the far post and before the celebrations had subsided, Forster burst through in typical fashion and was held back by a City defender left trailing in his wake. Forster converted the penalty. Within a minute City had pulled one back, although it looked to me that Matthews had charged the ball down with his arm before blasting the
ball past Whitehead. Just after ten minutes the eagle-eyed referee spotted an infringement that nobody else had noticed and gave City a penalty which Bell tucked away confidently. Three minutes later Forster was fouled again and Watson curled the free-kick inside the post to restore Reading's lead. With fifteen minutes gone I'd already lost my voice and my note pad! The
game had to settle down after that but I can't recall fifteen minutes like it for a long time.
A win was crucial for both teams and the commitment of both teams was evident in the ferocity of the challenges and the speed at which players were closing their opponents down. I felt Reading enjoyed more possession in the first half although the City forwards looked menacing. Murray was providing a threat on their right and Salako was being pulled about by the
runs made from midfield by Robinson. Watson had superb first half - always providing a passing option in midfield and shielding his back four with some solid defensive work. The only blemish on his performance was a harsh booking for not retreating quickly enough when City were awarded a free-kick on the half way line. It was typical of his display that the referee failed to punish a City player for an identical offence in the second half in a far more threatening position.
Cureton nearly increased the lead immediately after half time when a defensive mix-up provided an opportunity to lob the keeper from outside the area but his effort just missed the target. Ten minutes into the second half Cureton was replaced by Branch. I suppose Pardew was thinking that his pace might trouble a City defence that seemed to be keeping Cureton quiet.
Unfortunately it all went horribly wrong. Within four minutes City had equalised through Robinson. (I can't help thinking we should have seen this coming - he had been threatening to break from midfield throughout the first half.) Branch went off with a hamstring injury, and to be honest, Rougier posed much more of a threat when he replaced him. Harper also looked good
when he replaced Hughes. The points were now up for grabs and both sides had chances to win it. The best chance fell to Forster who saw his effort deflected wide by Phillips.
As we shuffled away after the final whistle Tinnion was declared Man of the Match and we were reminded that we had just seen a great game. We so we had, but in fact it was bad day for both teams as City slipped out of the fourth play-off spot. I only hope that this result has lifted City's spirits before their trip to Brighton on Monday.
As I left, a few frustrated Royals fans were criticising Pardew. I know how they feel - but let us not forget who has got us where we are now. I also happen to think we played well today. I'm sure he is feeling the pressure as much as anyone he doesn't need his own fans adding to that pressure. I travelled to the game today on Wessex Trains - now there is an example of poor management. As I left the station this evening I decided to hang on to the timetable. It gives the times of the trains to Cardiff up to June 1st. I just hope I don't need to use it again!
Post Match Opinions
I'm very depressed. We don't have the ability to kill games off. Yet
another occasion when we get an early goal, and leave with a point. What
use is that?
This is turning into a slow prolonged agonising nightmare. I must
admit before kick off I'd probably have settled for a point, but that
wasn't before seeing Brighton and Brentford winning yet again. It is so
hard not to be negative and despondent, I love this bloody club, but the
facts are there for all to see, Bournemouth, Oldham and yet again today,
not once or twice but three times we throw away a flipping lead (language
tempered in case kids are reading!) Supporting this club is like having an
frigging ulcer the pain it puts us through. Yet again, had the pleasure of
listening on radio, not allowed to go but knackers nearly ok, and once
again it's just absolute agony. The time is over for what ifs and buts...
its simple, we must win Monday, and we must win at least two of the last
It is evident after yesterday's performance that Adie Williams
shouldn't be playing. If every Reading fan of the 3000 who attended were
to be honest with themselves it is obvious our defence doesn't look stable
with Williams in it. He is constantly relying on others to clear up after
him. Had it not been for Mackie, having once again a good game, we would
have come away losing and feeling more hacked off. Although City's first
goal was debatable, without William's arrogance in trying to cleverly hook
the ball back over his head instead of smacking the ball into touch, we
would have been 2-0 up for much longer than a minute, and City would have
had to work hard to get something out of the game. But of course typical
Reading! No sooner than we had got into a strong position we threw it away
and Bristol City had the momentum to go on and equalize, although once
again their second goal was a dubious decision. At every free kick and
every corner there is always pushing and shoving. This was no different,
apart from City were awarded a penalty which was duly converted by Mickey
Bell. But back to Wiiliams, with his experience he should know better, do
something simple instead of flashy, and at this stage of the game it was
important to keep it tight...and what does he do. In my opinion, Viveash
is the best centre half at the club, his distribution is excellent and is
always reliable and consistent with his performances, and along with
Shorey, Murty (who has been our best player this season) and Mackie it
would make for a much better and stable back line.
I understand that a lot of fans are getting frustrated after seeing
an 11 point (I believe) lead over third place slip away. It is also
frustrating that when we score an early goal, we seem to take on a
complacent attitude and let the game slip and give the momentum to the
other team. I don't think it is fair to criticise Alan Pardew for any of
this, though. Thanks to Pards, the team goes out there and gets those
goals. Somehow the players just don't concentrate enough after that. We
should look at individual performances and not at Pards. We now have our
backs against the wall and our morale must have taken a massive knock in
recent weeks, though we shouldn't forget what we have achieved this season
and we should still be proud of our Royals. I still believe we can wrap
this season up before we go to Brentford. Even they can't win every game.
They're under just as much pressure as we are, don't forget. A win today
might see us bump up that cushion to five points again. Bury are also
desperate for points and won't give them away without a fight. Keep
thinking positive. If we have to go for the playoffs, then we will still
get there in the end and maybe earn a few extra pennies whilst doing
I'm a city fan and i was sitting adjacent to the penalty incident
that led to the royals second goal..The shirt pulling took place outside
the box but forster dived when he lost the ball,however that said the
defender should have kept his hands to himself !
Who is still top? Paul l from thatcham should be getting behind the
royals, is he a Brentford or Brighton fan in disguise?
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