3 December 1996 (League)
READING 2 Tranmere 0
(Lambert, Morley)

Att: 5,513
Team: Wright, Swales, Bernal, Bodin, McPherson, Hunter, Lambert, Williams, Gooding, Morley, Lovell. Subs not used: Gilkes, Nogan, Quinn.

Reading's lowest crowd of the season still managed to make a better atmosphere than the away end produced at Swindle on Saturday. For all those who stayed at home you didn't miss the most excellent game ever but you missed a real easy comfortable win by a much improved Reading. With Meaker and Parkie both out injured with shoulder problems and the return of Hunter from injury the line up saw a number of important changes. Hunter to make the defence solid again. Lambert actually starting a game (and playing it all). What a great idea - wonder why they didn't think of that before... With the return of Mick Gooding and Martin Williams Reading looked far more determined right from the start.

The first 15 minutes was all Reading. A great early cross from Williams on the right diagonally across the box saw a great header from Morley. The keeper got down well to his left to push it wide. As Reading pushed forward Morley looked like he'd really shagged it up at one point but then pulled out a blinding shot from the edge of the area which just climbed over the bar. Then on 15 minutes it was 1-0 to the R's. The corner came in from the left from Mick Gooding and was touched on to Lambert on the far post. Despite being a shorty Lambert guided the ball beautifully into the top corner to give us the lead.

A goal down Tranmere started to attempt to make up for their dodgy start with some posession football. However when they came forward they seldom looked like making anything as Reading restricted them to a couple of long shots - easy for Tommy Wright in the Reading goal. That was a big difference - Reading's defence looked up to the job. Although we were failing to close them down early our tactics of letting them come at us and then blocked them out seemed to do the job. I wouldn't have minded a few heavy tackles though to make it look a little more comfortable.

Meanwhile Swales having made his comeback into the team was having a bit of a nightmare at right back. He looked great coming forward and played a couple of nice balls but he was beaten every time and it was clear he lacked the pace.

Then Reading took control again for the last 15 minutes of the half. A great Paul Bodin cross from the left on about 35 minutes was Archie get up well in the box. His header looked like it was going into the bottom left corner but there was Morley in true striker fashion to touch it in on the post and claim the goal. 2-0 Reading! And 11 goals for Morley so far this season, and he's really starting to look on form.

The second half Reading just played it safe. We needed the 3 points and weren't prepared to give anything away. It was all very comfortable stuff. Our only real shot for the first half of the half came on 70 minutes from the foot of Paul Bodin. Reading could have got a third from Morley when another great cross from Bodin just left of centre saw Morley's header again just pushed wide of the keepers left post.

A corner to Reading in the last minute about summed it up. We still had everyone back and just Archie in the middle. Really playing it safe.

Funny moment of the game when a Trannie fan got out a blow up doll and started waving it around to the delight of the South Bank who began chanting "There's only one Mrs. Aldridge!" Hehehehe!


And this report comes from Jon Hanford...

Tranmere looked anything but promotion candidates as they tamely surrendered to struggling Reading at Elm Park. Rovers started brightly with Alan Rogers hitting a 20-yard drive just wide of the target after two minutes, but Reading took the lead just eight minutes later.

Joint player-manager Mick Gooding sent an accurate corner to the edge of the six-yard box, where James Lambert flicked a neat header past keeper Eric Nixon. The Royals extended their lead on 33 minutes when Welsh international Paul Bodin's curling free-kick was met by Stuart Lovell, starting his first game since August, and his header was helped over the line by Trevor Morley.

Rovers stepped up the pace after the interval but it was not until the 66th minute that they got their first shot on target, substitute Kenny Irons forcing Reading keeper Tommy Wright to get down well to smother his low shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Nixon produced a superb save to deny Morley a second goal on 78 minutes, somehow tipping his glancing header around the foot of the post, while substitute Gary Jones wasted a last-gasp chance to get his side on the scoresheet when he headed Tony Thomas's cross wide of the upright just a minute from time.

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