MATCH REPORT: 2004/2005 Season

Reading: Kitson (73 mins), Forster (83 mins).
Millwall: Dichio (39 mins).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 14,379

Pos Team P Pts GD
4 Preston 41 68 +8
5 READING 41 64 +10
6 Derby 40 64 +9
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Little (Ferdinand 67), Sidwell, Newman (Harper 71), Hughes (Brooker 55), Forster, Kitson. Subs Not Used: Young, Keown.
Millwall: Marshall, Paul Robinson, Craig, Lawrence, Ward, Sweeney (Impey 63), Livermore, Morris, Simpson (Elliott 67), May (Hayles 63), Dichio. Subs Not Used: Wise, Peeters.
Reading: -
Millwall: -
Referee: K Wright (Cambridgeshire).

After an abysmal first half the Royals took the game by the scruff of the neck, and through sheer effort and determination finally overcame a mediocre Millwall side. It was a crucial win which was looking distinctly unlikely at half time. The recent run now includes three wins and a draw in the last five games and puts the Royals firmly in contention for a play off spot. It is a good time to start winning again!

Millwall started brightly and dominated possession for the opening five minutes but Reading gradually began to create some promising situations. Ingimarsson had a half chance from a corner but his weak effort was blocked. Soon after, Newman beat the offside trap with a well timed run from midfield to get behind the Millwall defence, but no one was able to get on the end of his carefully flighted cross. Promising moves were breaking down as Reading struggled to make their passes count and the crossing was poor from everyone. Little was having a poor game and he was not alone. Hughes made a complete hash of his shot when Kitson glanced a header into his path on the edge of the area. Sonko was mistiming his headers and slicing the ball into touch with alarming regularity. Millwall were equally poor and also squandered possession frequently. Sonko's hesitation gifted Millwall a goal allowing a high ball to bounce on the edge of the area. Dichio took full advantage lobbing the ball comfortably over Hahnemann who was caught a long way off his line. With a few boos ringing in their ears Reading went off at the interval a goal behind.

What difference half time made. Sensing the significance of the result the crowd decided to encourage their team after the restart. The quality of the play was still poor but at least the Royals looked like they wanted to win and Millwall were certainly there for the taking. Coppell turned the game with some positive substitutions to celebrate his new contract. Hughes, Little and Newman made way for Ferdinand, Brooker and Harper.

The officials got the Reading fans going with a rash of incorrect decisions including a blatant shove on Kitson in the area as he rose to meet a cross. It all helped to build the pressure on Millwall as Reading surged forward. The crossing did not get much better with everyone guilty. Murty and Shorey certainly have both had better days. When the ball was delivered into dangerous areas no one seemed to want to attack the ball and the big Millwall defenders were allowed to clear under very little pressure. Brooker began to cause problems as he did on Saturday this time taking players on down the left. Ferdinand provided a much needed focus for Reading attacking play keeping possession and using the ball well.

The crucial breakthrough came when Sidwell slid the ball into the six yard area for Kitson to score from what looked to be an offside position. Reading deserved their equaliser. The game was gathering momentum. Dichio almost restored Millwall's lead with a clever flick which Hahnemann reacted quickly to gather. Moments later the Stadium erupted when Brooker jinked his way past his man and delivered a superb cross for Forster to meet with a well timed run and powerful downward header giving Marshall no chance. Forster was booked for celebrating his goal. (Another pathetic piece of football legislation. Surely a goal celebration enhances the entertainment!)

With seven minutes left plus, four minutes of time mainly added ironically for Millwall's time wasting tactics, the game was far from over. Ferdinand unleashed a rasping thirty yard effort which Marshall pushed away for a corner. Millwall had two very good chances to score in the closing stages. Robinson should have scored but blasted over from just inside the area, and Elliot had a shot deflected narrowly wide. It would have been a great injustice had Millwall scraped a draw.
Report by John Wells


A game of two halves - yet again a standard footballing cliché that applies to a Reading game. The first was a repeat of many recent performances as we failed to deliver quality balls to our strikers and so many moves broke down around the penalty box. Having said that I thought that we were the marginally better side as it was a bit of a surprise when Milwall scored although it was a good finish. We were tense when we went forward and that tension was felt by the crowd. What a contrast the second half was. The big difference was that the players started with greater purpose and pace to the game. This was picked up by the crowd who played their part in a very positive manner. The goals took their time in coming and credit to the manager in making substitutions that changed the game. Brooker came on and showed again that he has the ability to go past players. Ferdinand showed Kitson how to fight for the ball and hold it up. His shot in the second half which was very well saved will live in the memory for quite a time. It was the starting strikers of Forster and Kitson who got the important touches, but this was a time effort. A victory based on a desire to win and to force the issue, something that we have not been able to do at home of late. The test will be tougher on Saturday but what a real boost three points will be when we win it. I think that the manager has a real selection problem - to start with Sir Les or not, to use the attacking potential of Brooker or not? It should be good.
Ken C

Great result in the end and a win that was vital with all our rivals winning too. First 70 minutes was very forgettable and I must confess I had resigned myself to another disappointing night, but the team showed great character by producing two late goals to win the game. Let's hope that kick starts our remaining five games because make no mistake, if we play like we did for the first half in those games we'll get stuffed in all and there'll be no coming back. Kitson again looked asleep half the game and Forster worked his socks off, Harper coming on late seemed to add that little sparkle and all in all we did ok. I often wonder what professional players do when they train. I wonder if they practise crosses. Not a lot to ask, just cross the ball into the box, try and get it more than six inches off the ground and find a Reading player, if only. Finally Coppell signs for another year. Can't think of any other form of work or business, where you get a new contract, effectively an endorsement of your performance, one month before your job is finished and your results are not known, and there's a very good chance you will have not have met expectations. I admit I was disappointed at the news, not so much the new contract, but the timing . All I'm saying is it JM should have waited till the end of the season. I think we need a minimum of ten points from our five remaining games to get in the play offs, will we do it? Fifty fifty I say but what we need more than anything is a bit of luck, starting on Saturday... keep faith, URZ.
Nick Newbury

Talk about inspired substitutions! We totally turned the game around in the second half and Ferdinand and Brooker were the missing ingredients. It was a real surprise after the shocking first half and the rubbish we've been playing recently. If we can keep this small patch of form going until the end of the season it'll secure a play-off spot. Ferdinand looked the Premiership player he once was and could be set to be our super-sub. I'd always be happy seeing him come off the bench with twenty minutes to go to turn the game. Kitson was back to his usual self again flinging himself all over the pitch. The Forster/Kitson partnership worked a treat. We're all set up for the final push but we're going to have to fight for every point.
Jon Mansfield

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