MATCH REPORT: 2002/2003 Season

30 November 2002: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Reading: Salako (22 mins).
Brighton and Hove Albion:
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 6,817

DIVISION ONE  30 Nov 2002
Pos Team P Pts GD
4 Norwich 21 39 +17
5 READING 20 38 +10
6 Sheff Utd 20 35 +9
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Williams, Upson, Shorey, Rougier (Butler 83), Harper, Watson (Newman 70), Hughes, Salako, Forster. Subs not used: Mackie, Cureton, Ashdown.
Brighton and Hove Albion:
Kuipers, Watson, Cullip, Pethick, Mayo, Jones (Brooker 53), Rodger, Carpenter (Webb 76), Sidwell, Zamora, Hart. Subs not used: Butters, Oatway, Packham.
Reading: Butler, Forster, Hughes. Brighton and Hove Albion: Sidwell.
Referee: M D Messias (York)

Are Reading becoming predictable? Reading fans are so used to the ups and downs of following this club it's hard to understand this continual up that seems so unstoppable. If there was ever a potential banana skin to halt the win of runs then it was the trip to bottom of the table Brighton and Hove Albion on a difficult Withdean pitch. The potential defeat simply didn't happen with Reading coming home with another 1-0 victory to extend the current run to six straight games without conceeding a goal. This was our fifth 1-0 victory out of the current run of six wins. There were the not-usual nervous moments towards the end when Brighton threatened an equaliser, but in honesty Brighton were as short of ideas as all the other teams we've played recently - who just didn't know how to break down this amazing Reading defence.

Reading started off looking to take the early lead to seal an early win and the emphasis was again on Nicky Forster playing in his usual role up front. Right from the start Forster was involved with two early chances. One needed a block from a defender and the other was saved by the keeper after one of the those famous Nicky Forster runs into the box. If anything Forster was a bit too enthusiastic when he went down in the penalty area moments later and picked up a yellow card for diving - perhaps he should have stayed on his feet and he might have been a bit more effective.

After a strong Reading start the game swung around a bit towards Brighton's favour as the home side enjoyed a bit of the ball. Hahnemann was called into action a couple of times but wasn't really tested and it was Reading that continued to look the most dangerous as they launched the odd counter attack. The Royals took the lead midway through the first half then Forster picked up a loose ball after some sloppy play from Brighton. His cross found John Salako and Salako's shot took a nice deflection off the Brighton keeper and into the back of the net. 1-0 to Reading - and it was all that was needed to take the full three points from the fixture.

The rest of the first half seemed to pass without event and the second saw Brighton get off to another slow start. They seemed short of ideas and only started to really put pressure on Reading's defence as the time they had left to equalise started running low. They had a shot just over the crossbar but really were restricted to long range efforts that were way off target. Brighton are often called a one man team and today that one man - Zamora - wasn't very effective. He's been having problems with injuries this season and it showed as he drifted in and out of the game. In the last quarter of the game he had the most of the ball but fired off a couple of shots that were well wide and over - or both. He had a good chance with a header but found the corner flag rather than the target.

Adrian Williams made a rare mistake that let Brighton in for a chance to beat Hahnemann - which of course they didn't. The Reading keeper came off best each time he was called into action and must have been loving every minute of it. The game didn't really flow in Reading's favour in the second half - but Brighton failed to produce anything with the large number of free-kicks they won inside the Reading half. They came closest to pulling level in the dying minutes with some desperate pressure - but despite a series of corners and a goalmouth scramble they didn't do enough to prevent the Reading win.

nick newbury
I'm running out of things to say! When is it going to end? Who gives a toss, if it is to be next week, and I don't think it will be, it doesn't really matter because this amazing run really has set us up for a realistic chance of those play offs. Our form at the moment is championship form and now with the unbelievable prospect of the glittering prize and all the dosh of the Premiership, Mr Madj, must surely start thinking about investing in Upson, who's performances and all round presence has been one of the bed rocks of our current position in the league. Now this bit of HNA as I've said many times before is called Opinion and is all about opinions, and although I respect Emmer Green's views after the Palace game, I for one must presume he's slightly lacking in any brain matter. To have a whinge and moan after this run and the super win at Palace not only takes ones breath away, but defies belief that one has the audacity to do so. I don't care if we win every game for the rest of the season, with a last minute own goal 1-0. If you want entertainment mate, buy a Play Station! What a prospect next week as the sailor boys come to town, who'd bet against us, boring, boring Reading! Hahaha... URZ!
worthing royal
In truth the game wasn't up to much. We got wet, and couldn't see much of the action, although who cares when it is another three valuable points in a so far superb return to Div 1. This season reminds me so much of 1994/5, when we had our first season in the Nationwide 1. No-one quite took us seriously then, and we finished runners up. For those who dont remember, that was the only season that runners up did not get automatic promotion! Defensively, we were very good again at Brighton. We restricted Zamora and his gang to long range stuff, and half chances. We still gave the ball away too much in midfield, and invited them on to us, but the back four and Marcus were capable of snuffing out all the danger. I fear it may be a different story against Pompey, and hope that we play further forward in that one. Fozzy was dangerous again, and for once Salako played a bit. I had been dreading this game, for fear that my Sussex neighbours would once again pile stick on me in my exile on the South coast. No such problem! In the local, loud and proud last night, giving the Seagulls some pearls of wisdom on how they might survive. I think they probably will, but it still amazes me that they are allowed to play Div 1 football on a school sports field. URZZZ.
nick newport
Couldn't agree more with Nick from Newbury, I was so incensed to see Emmer Green Royal's comments after the Palace game, luckily I thought better of sending in my original response! West Brom got to the Premier last season on the back of a good defense and 1-0 scorelines and who knows they may even stay there by doing the same thing. I for one find the current formation of 4-5-1 great to watch and exciting, you really can appreciate the qualities of players like Upson who simply has class written all over him and Pards deserves all the credit in the World for motivating and creating a team spirit that I haven't witnessed before in 30 years of supporting the Royals.Everyone we play fails to get to grips with breaking us down, the only time we have reverted to 4-4-2 against Watford and we looked 2nd Division again and were lucky to get a result. Sorry mate but if I were you I would do what I do, and go f*****g mental when we do score, cos at the moment you can be pretty sure that's the goal that's going win to win the game, sod 4-3's give me 1-0 against Pompey next week and I'll be ecstatic! Anyone noticed that our run this season mirrors our form at this time last year - good omen or what! 1-0 TO THE BLUE AND WHITES - 1-0 TO THE BLUE AND WHITES.
tamworth royal
I was born in Brighton, but saw the light in "1972" when we moved to Reading for two years and after sitting in the park bench stand at Elm Park I realised this club is the future. 30 years on and the arrival of "St John" I think that light is just about visible towards the tunnel end.The difference between this team unlike the "1995" robbed team, is that there isn't the individuals like the Quinn's and Lovell's it's goals this is a team effort. Today, if you went, I thought it was a classic Arsenal 1-0 performance very very well disciplined and professional and I'll take another 26 1-0 wins thank you very much. To me Reading proved their worth in this division when they lost unluckily to Preston, since then they have proved the bounce back critics by going on this current run. All I ask Loyal Royals is to be like the media.... keep quiet about the form and let's be unnoticed. I have lived in the Midlands now for 18 years and yes even the Wolves and Leicester fans have accepted that apart from Pompey it's us they now fear at the moment but whispered !. Well done Alan P and Kevin D and us the number 13, superb today. (Upson,start the fund I fear without him £ 2m to keep and the bonus of £16 M Revenue from promotion in Prem !) the sum add's up !
darren hall
Some 4 weeks ago, feeling a bit p*ssed off after wasting 3 points at Preston, I sent in a report saying the next month's worth of fixtures were all winnable, maybe at the time a slightly biased opinion but no, from that day on the season really began. Who would of thought the lads hear my words and go on a run like this, with a defence tighter than Rik Waller's underpants, a midfield with real spirit, flair and tenacity and Fozzy up front scaring the life out of all defenders before him we are the team the rest of Europe now fears !! Pards has really now come of age as a manager, the switch to 4-5-1 over the last month is a master stroke, you cannot argue with the results, yet also he has assembled a squad in such a way as to give us real options should he wish to change, with the team is playing as a team, everyone is fighting for places and there is quality on the bench. At the start of the season I thought I was going to be reading the table from the bottom up every week, nervously looking at the next week's fixture list but instead my eye goes no further than the playoff positions and I am just thinking who are we next going to grind down and take 3 points off of this week, (Bobby Hove Albion is especially sweet after all that bullshit from them last season !) After 25 years as a Royals fan, enduring mainly shite from past Reading teams showing all the qualities of Tony Blair handling Blue Watch, with only the occasional (I mean occasional) seasons of real cheer I really don't give a sh!t if it is 1-0 to the blue and whites every game, as at last people are beginning to take us seriously for a change, teams don't want to be playing us next actually and we have a self belief that can really take us places. Yeah this will come to an end at some point, Upson's gonna be gone, but we have really laid the foundations for something here, let's not waste it. Bring on the 'Arry and his nautical nancy boys, who cares who's next at the moment. In fact such is the effect of our recent form on the up and coming opposition that I have heard a rumour that Paul Merson, with thoughts turning nervously to next week game, has slipped back into his old ways again and necked 1/2 a pint snakebite and black before legging it down to Ladbrokes to put £10,000 on the Royals to beat Pompey, you guessed it, 1-0. URZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ..!!!
royal royce
It has been a fantistic run in November, and Reading have exceeded everyone's expectations. The real test is over the next month. The six wins have come against Bredford, Millwall, Gillingham, Watford, Palace and Brighton. The next six matches are against Portsmouth, Wednesday, Forest, Coventry, Derby and Leicester. If Reading are still in the playoff positions at the end of New Year's Day, then we can be taken seriously as a threat to join the Premiership. The Portsmouth match is Upson's last as a Royal. What's he worth in today's market? Madejski has built the entire squad for under 3 million. Given the proven way Upson has fit into the side and improved the play of those around him, and the expected improvement in gate receipts if Reading stay in the top 6, Madejski should be able to justify up to 1.5 million. Will that be enough?
lobby thatcham
I never thought I'd see the day when Nick Newbury ran out of words! There must be a god. But I must agree with his comments regarding Upson. You've only got to look at the goals for and against column to see where our strength lies. We've scored far fewer goals than the teams around us but conceded fewer as well. Its not only Upsons personal performance's we have to thank of course as impressive as they are. But the fact that all the other players around him appear to feed off his confidence. Take Williams as an example. At the start of the season he was struggling and now he's on the verge of an international recall, even though its only for the sheep shaggers. So John, if we are to be serious about joining the elite of the premier league I reckon its time to get the old cheque book again. Failure to sign Upson will put in serious doubt our desire to compete with the big boys. Bring on the Pompey scummers.
west sussex royal
Another first. I only get in the home stands for away games when can't get tickets in the away end - once at Pompey with some Pompey mates (nearly died) and now twice at the Albion with my Albion mates. On each previous occasion, we've lost. Last year at Brighton, I had to drive them home to taunts of "you lost and you're driving home". This year I drove home to a rather quieter car... 1-0 to the Reading again and have to agree with Nick Newbury about the Emmer Green royal on the Palace opinion. All good teams must be based on solid defending and conceding only 14 goals in 20 games is pretty amazing for almost the same team which came up from last year. Pards has changed the tactics and right now, 4-5-1 looks a pretty good formation, home and away. The manager has said that he's not happy with 1-0 so he's looking for more goals too but playing one up front with two breaking from midfield means you won't thrash teams. Unlike when Leicester came for McGhee, we now have a fabulous stadium and real long-term potential to hopefully ward off too many teams from being able to poach Pards. Can't get to too many games for a while so it's nice to sign off seeing us in such commanding form. You Rrrrrrrrrrrrrs
y24 east
I've just read the comments of Nick 'Statto' Newbury and wanted to come on here just to say how much I whole heartedly agree with everything he writes particularly his criticism of Emmer Green who appears to prefer us to play exciting attacking football at Division 2 level rather than do what ever is necessary to ensure we at least stay in Div 1. I wonder what he'll want if and perhaps when we get the ultimate prize of Premiership football? Also I feel the same as many fans that we can't afford to miss out on the chance of going up because we don't have the foresight to add better players to the squad now. Matthew Upson is a prime example of the type of addition we need to make. Presumably Pards has a cunning plan for when Matty departs, let's hope so! Finally I just wanted to have a whinge about the silly cow who was the first caller on Redio Berkshire after the game finished who had nothing to say about the great victory we had just achieved against Brighton. She simply came on to criticise Pards for not playing Jamie Cureton. At 5 o'clock on a Saturday, woman, you should be in the kitchen! Bring on the Pompey! Come on URZS.
caversham royal
"Boring, boring Reading, buy a Play Station, eh Nick????" The players and management deserve immense credit for the current league position that defies all expectations. The 4-5-1 seems to be the best way to pinch a tight away win, as this has proved in the last sequence of excellent results. But is it the best formation at home, seemed to be the Q our Emmer Green friend was asking. With the 2 unsuuccessful play-off finals very much in mind, I would dearly love to see RFC clinch a place in footballs elite, but do I want to see us transform into late '80s/early 90's Arsenal? Not sure about that.......I remember their style being more than a little dull, even if it got results. Me-thinks you boarder on 'sod the style as long as we go up', Nick. Fine if we do, but that is'nt a sure thing as yet, and if you think it is it's your brain that needs help...... Ah...enough of all that though. I'm SO PLEASED we beat Brighton. After getting trounced there last season, to keep a clean sheet and steal a win shows how far RFC have come, and how Brighton have not moved, or pehaps gone backwards. Ha! Whether this mean defence of ours remains after the Pompey game still worries me. Much depends, I reckon, on how Williams reacts to Upson's departure. Mackie or Whitbread to partner him??? Not sure which I'd prefer, and that's the choice if Mr Mad does'nt dig into his fat wallet for Upson and offer a more tempting package than any Premier clubs might. Ah well, at least Brighton got beat with Mr Zamora not on the score sheet as I'd hoped. Lovely...... Pompey will be the biggest test so far. Welcome back Shaka (don't play too well!). COME ON........
emmer green royal
I need to make one thing very clear, I am very happy that Reading are 5th in Div 1 and have won the last 6 games. Pardew deserved his award for his efforts along with Dillon, the rest of the staff and the all the players. However what has concerned me is that whilst we arenít playing particularly wonderful football there have been a number of comments saying how great things are and that we are playing the best football for years. When I read that I had to make a response. Ok say so it was a bit over the top. Iím not unhappy with how things area I just want a few people to take off their rose coloured specs. A comment was made that if I wanted entertainment I should buy a playstation. Can you honestly say you donít go to the football wanting entertainment? Let me ask you this, who would you rather watch, the dull workman-like Germany or the attacking flair of Brazil?
Iím not going to knock the efforts of the team or the management, there seems to be a great, spirit in the club, something that was missing for a number of years. That said my main concern when we came up from div 2 was that although our attack was very good our defence regularly fell apart during games which was ominous for this year. Having brought in Upson this problem has largely disappeared. The motto of this club is Tenacity, Spirit and Flair and whilst at present we are showing huge amounts of Tenacity and Spirit it seems that this has been done at the expense of the Flair. Contrary to some comments made I would not rather Reading played attacking football in Division 2 but at the same time I donít want to play very defensive football. Of course there are times when we should play like that, Brighton away for example, but at home we should be more adventurous. We have players like Harper, Cureton, Murty and Igoe who could all benefit from a more attacking style and yet they seem restrained by 4-5-1. Even Forster who has benefited a lot from this style often suffers through lack of support.
Another thing, I do go Ďf*****g mentalí when Reading score and will do every time. Is it really such a bad thing to want to do it more often?
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