MATCH REPORT: 2003/2004 Season

Reading: Sidwell (5 mins), Hughes (78 mins).
Bradford City:
Evans (44 mins), Gray (55 mins).
Half Time: 1-1
Attendance: 12,594

Pos Team P Pts GD
11 Cardiff City 11 15 +6
12 READING 11 15 +3
13 Stoke City 12 15 -1
Reading: Hahnemann, Newman, Shorey, Mackie, Williams, Murray, Sidwell, Watson (Daley 62), Hughes, Goater, Forster. Subs not used: Ashdown, Salako, Savage, Tyson.
Bradford City:
Paston, Edds, Wetherall, Gavin, Heckingbottom, Summerbee (Francis 69), Windass, Evans, Muirhead, Gray, Cornwall (Emanuel 89). Subs not used: Beresford, Kearney, Wolleaston.
Reading: None.
Bradford City:
Gavin, Gray, Muirhead, Summerbee, Windass.
Referee: P Walton (Winwick)

September was not a good month in many respects for Reading Football Club, but today their fans must have been encouraged by the attitude of the players, even though things off the pitch are still very unsettled. A draw at home against a team fifth from bottom is far from promotion form but the performance, in my opinion, deserved all three points. Today the team showed a great deal of spirit and determination to come back when the game looked to be slipping away from them, Goater produced his best home performance so far, and crucially, the fans got behind their team when things were looking bleak.

Reading took an early lead when Murray and Forster combined superbly down the right to open up the City defence and when the ball came to Goater in the box he rolled it back to Sidwell who finished calmly from ten yards. Goater was showing some very good touches and with Forster playing his usual incisive game Reading dominated the game. Forster got the crowd going with a great run from just inside the City half which carried him into the area before forcing a save from Paston. Minutes later a delicate lay off from Goater put Sidwell in a good scoring position but he blasted over with only the 'keeper to beat. Reading then mounted a period of sustained pressure winning a succession of corners as Bradford resorted to desperately hacking the ball away to safety. Goater spun and hit a powerful shot which unfortunately was straight at Paston.

Evans fired a warning shot which produced a spectacular save from Hahnemann after forty minutes, and then against the run of play, he dispossessed a ponderous Goater just outside the area and curled the ball past a startled Hahnemann. Reading had been worth a two goal lead but somehow found themselves going in at half time with the scores level.

The second half began quietly and Reading didn't look as confident and purposeful as they had in the first half. Newman looked secure at full back but it was noticeable that without Murty there Hahnemann was far more inclined to punt a long ball forward. Ten minutes into the half Murray lost the ball on the right, City broke quickly and, with the Reading defence all over the place, Gray put the visitors ahead. Things were going from bad to worse.

The latest management duo of Hammond and McDermott obviously felt under pressure to change something, but clearly upset the crowd by taking off Watson. He looked equally puzzled as he came off. Nobody in fact really deserved to be taken off. The only reason for the change must have been to get on another attacking player in midfield and release Hughes to make runs through the centre. That I could understand (although I didn't agree with it!), but what did puzzle me was how Daley got on ahead of Tyson or Salako. He was certainly determined to get himself noticed, and not only through wearing a pair of boots bearing an uncanny resemblance to a pair of banana skins! He seemed to want to take people on at every opportunity - even when it involved ignoring very good passing options. Regardless of the wisdom of the substitution Reading launched themselves at City in search of the equaliser. It wasn't pretty but the play was direct and exciting. With fifteen minutes left Forster was fouled on the edge of the area, Shorey whipped a good cross which Hughes managed to deflect the ball past Paston.

From that point there was only one team likely to win as Reading continued to pile on the pressure. Windass was in no mood to surrender and committed the worst foul I've seen for a while. Amazingly, when you think of Tyson's sending off last season against Wolves, he was only booked. In the final ten minutes Bradford cleared headers off the line from Goater and Williams, but the win Reading deserved, and desperately needed, eluded them. I made a point of waiting to applaud the team off the pitch after the game, and I was certainly not alone.
Report by John Wells


Others can rant about our performance against the worst team since Grimsby to play at the Mad Stad. I want to vent about more important issues. I was annoyed already when I left the stadium, following a diabolical performance. My annoyance grew when I heard Hammond's interview on the radio. After being given deadlines as to when we should expect the announcement (all expired) he now refused to committ to even having a new manager before our next game! Thinking things couldn't get worse, I turned on Sky Sports when I got home. Steve Coppell was interviewed live. He confirmed his interview for the job, but went on to say he hadn't heard from Reading since Wednesday! He finished by saying he wasn't sure if we still wanted him!
My thoughts when I left the stadium were that I hoped Hammond was better at picking a first team coach than he is at being first team coach. This doesn't bode well. How long must things continue to slide before we do something? The longer this drags on, the less attractive we become. Instead of challenging for promotion our record suggests relegation fodder. I think only Rotherham & Wimbledon have worse records than us for last month. It's time somebody pulled their bloody finger out. I'm sick of all the "Premier League Club in the making" bollocks. We are acting like a sunday league outfit. If we want to be a big club, start acting like it and go and get a Manager.
Paul, Thatcham Royal

15 - 0. That was the score to The Royals in terms of corners according to the Mad Stad stats. Whilst we did not dominate the game by such a margin, it was a game that we should have won easily. If there was not everything else going on at the moment, we would have accepted it as such, but now are unusual times. We started well and the first half saw some very good open constructive play. Goater was playing a little deeper and was more involved in the game. Hughes, and more of him later, was everywhere. The first goal was the result of good team work involving Hughes, Goater, Forster and Murray before Sidwell finished off the move. Our weakness was that we did not go on and get the second when we should have done. Forster had a good effort but both Sidwell and the Goat really should have scored. Bradford were neat in possession but their only real danger appeared to come from their left side where Newman struggled against a pacy opponent. When their goal came, it was a good strike but Goater was shoved off the ball far too easily and yet again we had conceded just before halftime. Bradford's second goal came from a move that split us apart far too easily and then we had it all to do. I think they cleared four chances off the line mainly from Williams and Goater. Eventually a quality ball in from Shorey gave Hughes the change to equalise and he was delighted so to do.
I give up with the Reading fans and Hughes. The decision to take off Watson was booed presumably because it was not Hughes that was being replaced! Hughes is not the most talented player in the squad, but he does not hide and gives his all to the cause each week. He is frustrating, but which Reading offensive player isn't? He worked harder than anyone else today and deserved his goal. When he scored the bloke behind me just sat there and wasn't cheering because it was Hughes who had scored. How pathetic can you get. We are meant to support the team when they are playing and get behind them. Leave the comments till after the game.
In general I thought we played OK. The weakness was the finishing and the full backs. I know that Shorey has not got the protection that he has enjoyed in the past but surely that does not stop him tackling! Whilst Newman could not do a lot about the fact that his opponent was much quicker than him, that was no excuse for some poor distribution. I still think that there is a lot more to come from Murray. We have had a hard run of games and, in terms of results done poorly. We need to move on from that but above all we need to support all of the team and be positive.
Ken C

Ok, so we didn't lose and we may have sneaked it at the end but this was another lamentable woeful performance from a so called Reading team. Game should have been won at half time and that would have been a perfect springboard for the new incoming manager to come in and get us back on the tracks, because we've only come off the rails we're not far off becoming a laughing stock . What the bloody hell is going on ? They are so called professionals , they are the same players that a month ago were undefeated and looking like championship candidates. Do they really need someone like Pardew telling them how good they are to produce a decent performance in front of their own fans! At the moment we look like a Sunday pub side who hasn't got a clue what's going on . The defence is a shambles , the midfield is non existent and the attack is running up its own arse most of the time . I really can't be bothered to name and shame players , they know who they are , they know they can't pass to a fellow player, take a decent corner and they know where to hide on the pitch at a time when we need players to give every ounce of strength in their body for ninety minutes . By the grace of goal difference we are not in the bottom half of the table, today we played a team in the bottom four and for a large part of the game looked like we were below them . They say you have to reach rock bottom before things can only get better, well we're certainly not at rock bottom yet, but who ever does come in, good luck mate, because this lot the way they are going are certainly not going to get us out of this division, well not in the right direction that is!
Nick Newbury

A day on & I'm still not quite sure what I witnessed Sat. An excellent 1st half performance, so much better than much of what I've seen lately, marred only by an unlucky goal right at the end of the half that Bradford barely deserved. Then, up until Reading got their 2nd goal, an inept 2nd half performance featuring one of the softest, poorest goals I've seen us concede for some time & certainly the most farcical substitution I've seen for a while. Then once the equaliser went in, the team start playing like they did in the 1st half again & nearly pinch all 3 points. So why so poor for that chunk of the 2nd half?? In the end, it cost us a win that we should have had & on the strength of the 1st half & closing period of the game, deserved. Again, the players let themselves down badly during that period of the 2nd half. Bizarre..... The new face in management can't come quickly enough to give some stability & sort out whatever problems are obviously there post-Pardew. Also couldn't understand why many around me were slating Goater again. Yes, he has been poor the last few games but Sat he was very involved, was looking for the ball, making himself available, linking up well, set up Sidwell for the 1st (& then nearly a 2nd had Sidwell not sliced his shot), & was unlucky not to get a goal near then end when he had a header knocked off the line. Yes, he gave the ball away for Bradford's 1st, but the guy still had to score from 25 yards or so. More performances like that from him & the goals will come again, as long as folk give him a chance. And all the players will hopefully benefit from whoever comes in during the course of the week.....I hope. COME ON......
Caversham Royal

I would like to express my opinion on the present predicament that we now find ourselves in. I have supported the royals on and off for 50 years and am now a disabled season ticket holder who travels to as many away games as possible. Mr Mad has done an awful lot for our team but lets not fall into the trap of worshiping like some kind of god - he has his own agenda - he finds fame and adulation through his positio as chairman, hence his reluctance to employ a high profile manager who would be more popular than him. The present management position is surely a repeat of the Burns and Bullivant situation - weeks of deliberation in order to finish up with someone totally wrong. If we were offering a good package, surely Steve Coppell would have bitten our hands off. As for spectators booing players during games - surely they pay their money and are entitled to express their opinions - they cheer when the players are good dont they? Its not as if the players are a bunch of schoolkids likely to burst into tears at the first sign of criticism. One thing I am certain of is that if we dont resolve the management situation very shortly we will be facing a relegation battle.

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