MATCH REPORT: 2004/2005 Season

Reading: Forster (8 mins).
Wolves: Clarke (53 mins), Ricketts (84 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 20,495

Pos Team P Pts GD
6 West Ham 45 70 +9
7 READING 45 70 +9
8 Sheff Utd 45 67 +3
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Keown, Sonko, Hughes, Little (Ferdinand 74), Sidwell, Harper, Brooker (Ingimarsson 62), Forster, Kitson. Subs Not Used: Convey, Newman, Young.
Wolves: Oakes, Naylor, Lescott, Craddock, Edwards, Olofinjana, Cameron, Ricketts, Seol, Miller, Clarke (Bischoff 90). Subs Not Used: Cooper, Clingan, Cornes, Jones.
Reading: Ingimarsson.
Wolves: Olofinjana, Seol, Ricketts.
Referee: R Styles (Hampshire).

Reading started the game full of aggression and determination and, with the crowd roaring them on from the kick-off, Forster gave his team an ideal start with a superbly taken goal after only eight minutes. Hahnemann's long kick was flicked on by Kitson and Forster nipped in to sent a brilliant cushioned volley over Oakes into to top left hand corner of the net. Reading's inability to capitalise on their flying start is clear proof that the current squad are simply not quite good enough to gain promotion. I have a lot of respect for Steve Coppell, but what on earth was he talking about when he said that a point would not have any material effect on next week? Surely if we match West Ham's result next week a point gained today would have put us in the play offs.

Coppell was absolutely right in identifying Wolves as strong contenders for promotion next year. Their performance today was tribute to the coaching and management skills of Glen Hoddle. As Reading stuck to their tight defensive system which has served them well on many occasions this season, while Wolves passed and moved with a fluidity which is a rare sight in the Championship. The only way to beat a side like that is to unsettle them and put them on the back foot. Having taken an early lead the Royals sat back and allowed Wolves to dictate the game with ultimately disastrous consequences.

With the Reading midfield defending just outside their own penalty area Olofinjana wandered around in acres of space behind the Wolves attack and midfield doing pretty much whatever he wanted. He had several strikes on goal when allowed to advance towards the Reading penalty area unchallenged and he was always available to receive the ball and start the next attack when Wolves looked like losing possession. Hoddle is clearly grooming him in his own image. Miller gave a lesson in well timed and intelligent running up front and caused Reading problems all afternoon.

Wolves possession and pressure produced, somewhat inevitably, an equaliser when Clarke headed home from one of several second half corners after fifty-four minutes. Coppell tried to shake things up by bringing Ingimarsson into midfield releasing Sidwell for a more attacking role, and sending on Ferdinand to bolster the attack. It was like fogging a dead horse as Wolves continued to look the more composed side. Their touch, movement and passing made Reading look second best all over the field. Although Reading did rally slightly, Ricketts simply ran through the centre of their defence and slotted home with a very clean strike from the edge of the area. With six minutes left, it was all over - well nearly. Harper was presented with chance inside the box which he snatched at, and belted high and wide, and in added time Ferdinand capped a sad day by wasting a good chance by blasting the ball straight at Oakes.

Relieved of the budren of expectation, and with Wigan as jittery as hell, who knows what might happen next week. Personally I felt it finally all went wrong last week. A win in Cardiff and a draw today would have put us in the play offs. Even before today's defeat the odds were stacked against us getting into the top six. There needs to be some rebuilding before next season if we are expecting to mount a serious challenge for promotion.
Report by John Wells


Today we witnessed why we are not quite good enough to really succeed in this division. Ultimately we were second best to a team who cost more money, and pay higher wages. As a result we lost to the better team on the day. It was not as a result of lack of effort or tactical know how - Wolves were just better. The first half which saw Forster's super strike from a Kitson flick merely postponed the inevitable. The facts tell us the truth of the campaign - we do not score enough goals and today was clear proof of why that is. Too often in games this season the opposition has had more of the ball than we have. The success of any team is based on its midfield. Today we started with Little, Sidwell, Harper and Brooker, all good players in their own right. It was obvious though that we were not going to have enough possession. That is OK if you have the ability to hit on the break. We do not. I like Little as a player, but he has flattered to deceive. His job is to get in the crosses for the strikers, but how many assists has he got this season? Brooker is clearly a confidence player, but is just too light. Too often he did not win the ball. As our midfield is not physically strong they are not able to get up and support the front two who remained isolated. Historically we have always defended deep - a legacy from Williams and this makes it harder to support the attackers. The season is not over but it will take a superb effort and a bit of luck to achieve what should have been reasonably easy given our form up to Christmas. Something went decidedly wrong in January and February and we will perhaps never know the real truth. The solution - well that is harder. The simple football fan will say to the chairman 'get your money out' that is naive and misses the point. Look at our last three big signings in terms of cash - Convey, Murray and Goater. We have a good manager and a nearly team. It just needs that magic ingredient and ideally that would come from the academy. Most of our players have the ability to play at the higher reaches of this league, none the ability to play in the Premiership on a regular basis. The players did their bit today and a special word should go to Sonko who had a fine game till a misdirected header lead to the second goal. Hughes deserves praise for dealing with Seol so well but he is no Shorey when it comes to creativity. By bringing on Ingimarsson in midfield, Coppell saw what was missing but did not have the ammunition to deal with it. It has been another terrific season and it may not be over yet - but I think it is.
Ken C

Friday night Sunderland do us a massive favour, beat West Ham and we're back in the play offs without kicking a ball. Half time against Wolves we're 1-0 up, Derby are losing four nil at Coventry and we're up to fifth in league as it stands , forty five minutes to get a result and put immense pressure on our rivals. However this is Reading FC and somehow with all the incentive they could ever need, we go on to produce one of the most gutless,pathetic, diabolical, useless, spineless, dreadful performances I've ever seen, and probably the worst display ever seen at the Madejski. It was that bad. Wolves absolutely battered us and played us off the park. Do the players and the manager not have any pride ? Why in gods name did the midfield play so deep in front of the defence and allow Wolves to flood forward with every move. There was enough space in the midfield for a new Airbus A380 we were playing so deep and Coppell should take total blame for that.Compare our work rate and running of the ball with that of Wolves, it was embarrassing. It was so one way you'd have thought it was them playing for something when in fact all they were playing for was their following fans and the shirt. After a dream start with a good goal by Fossie we all thought here we go, but oh no. I can't think of one player who performed well or even appeared to try that bit extra. Keown did ok but he'll not be here next season, Hughes ran his socks off but sadly has no skill to deliver a final ball, Sidwell and Harper were both playing on reputations and were dreadful and as for Kitson. He played like an absolute plank and has done for quite while now. He lumbered around like a knackered donkey and had the touch of a mule. How many who voted him player of the year were thinking, bloody hell is this the same player. I thought for a long time that our league position belies one of the greatest mystery in football in how on earth can we be so high after playing so poorly since Christmas. All it affirms to me and those who watch it is how bad the so called Championship is. It's full of second rate teams full of mediocre players and the odd Premiership has been way past his sell by date. It's like the old Combination league, a reserve league, so distant from the Premiership it could be played on another planet. Yet we delude ourselves that we may still go up , we could yet do so, we all dream, but if we did it wouldn't be so much lambs to slaughter but a total massacre. the reason I believe this is because I think John Madejski would think we could do it with a few more signings, not a total new team as we would need. It's ok JM taking the applause before the game, but here lies the root of our problems. The club is run with such naivety and lack of ambition from top to bottom it makes you weep. At Christmas we were in a great position few points of the top ready to push on with a few new signing and go for it. But no, we sign two players approaching forty pay them extortionate wages, piss off the rest of the team and proceed to see our season go from bad to worse. What great job our Director of Football is doing in attracting new players and we go into next season with a manager who's down-beat manner, lack of enthusiasm and doom and gloom appears to effect all around him including the players. I renewed my season ticket yesterday morning, I was going to do it whatever happened or will happen, can't help it, but if this team is not given a major revamp in many positions we'll be in a relegation fight next year not a play off one. I still chuckle to think we are still in the play offs shake up, unbelievable. I don't think we will beat Wigan next week, I expect West Ham to take that sixth place I'm sure Pardew enjoyed his dinner last night and that will stick in the back of many Reading fans throats.I hope I'm wrong and will be more than happy to eat humble pie, but we can't kid oursleves, we're simply not good enough. Many I know will say we've done well this season, play off chances blah blah blah, that's maybe because most accept and are content with mediocrity, an average team, a team that's won nothing ( please don't count the Sherpa LDV Burger van trophy or whatever it was called ) in nearly one hundred and thirty five years existence.That's a great record to be proud of isn't it. I don't think at present the club has the balls to go up, in recent seasons we've played Fulham, Charlton, Middlesborough, Bolton, Birmingham, Portsmouth, Palace etc and they've all gone on and had a go. Why can't we ? The long honeymoon in over, Elm Park is long gone, the infrastructure is there, we all know that, but unless this club gets a thorough shake up from top to bottom, we will continue to win nothing and we'll continue to watch mediocre teams with the odd bit of excitement. It has to change for the future of the club and all it's long suffering fans.
Nick Newbury

Sorry but this performance was just not good enough and the difference between the teams was simply poor training, motivation and totally inept management of the squad.If yesterdays result depended on Championship survival we would have seen us win hands down and deny Wolves the ball and opportunity to play.Football is about self belief and confidence and we possess neither at the present time.It has NOT been a good saeson at all with many under par performances and lack lustre effort throughout the team, all of which in my opinion stems from the training ground and a manager who is able to motivate players to the fullest. Steve Coppell's remarks on T.V. teletex beg belief. Once again as I have said on many occasions he patronises the oposition and praises it's manager. Frankly I am not interested in such comments and neither are the majority of true Royal's fans. To say that "a point" would have made little difference to next week simply sums up the mans attitude to management and his clear naivity in understanding the management side of the game. I am sure he will be delighted to have secured from our Chairman a further years contract but frankly he is not the man to lead our team to the top flight in English football and I even question whether or not the desire exists at Board level to meet such a challenge in any event. It will simply not surfice to console ourselves with the fact that we will have finished in the top ten in what has been a very inconsistant league this year and for the taking in every sence of the word as has been seriously challenged by Wigan in their first year at the higher level. I am not sure whether the Chairman of Hull City is a personal friend of Steve Coppell but his recent comments concerning our Club being a true example to mirror our success in this division over the last two seasons with excellent management is chirlish to say the least. He should be looking more closely at his northern neighbours who possess above all a much more positive and determined attitude reflected by good man management. If we were to reach the play offs following a win at Wigan then this would purely demonstrate there is no consistency in this division but I have to agree with Ken that our season is over.
Terry, Isle of Wight.

Whilst the opinions I have read concede that Wolves were the better team yesterday, they also seemed to be saying that Reading tried hard. I thought they were abysmal. I have seen 10 year olds down the park attempt better passing movements. Everything from Reading was a big boot down the "inside-left" channel, (even the goal came from this route one tactic) and this became so predictable that at times there up to 12 players in a tight group waiting for the ball to arrive. When it did Reading were offside or Wolves gained the ball, or Reading won the ball and gave it back to Wolves. My son offered the opinion that Reading were in a competition to see how often they could give the ball away. What on earth happened to the passing game? Come on Reading we are paying good money and deserve to see better than that!
John Bracknell

Everything was beautifully set up in Reading's favour on Saturday; Wet Sham losing at home on Fri, Wigan & Preston drawing & then at half time with Reading 1-0 up, the news that Derby were being thumped away at Coventry. And with all these teams seemingly bending over backwards to do us a favour, Reading proceeded to throw away any advantage the weekend might have given them. For me, this performance underlined the fact that even if Reading do somehow come out of next Sunday in a play-off position, they don't really deserve to be there. There have been too many performances like this since Christmas & in the end that's why we'll be going into the last game of the season relying on the likes of Watford to do us a favour whilst hoping the team can raise their game against very tough opposition. It's all very disappointing....
Caversham Royal.

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