(Half Time: 0-3)
Reading Scorers: Igoe (65 mins), Caskey (76 pen), Cureton (90)
Millwall Scorers: Harris (17 mins, 22, 50 pen), Newman (29 og)
Date: 6 January 2001
Attendance: 14,743

Reading: Whitehead, Newman, Mackie, Hunter, Robinson (Murty), Caskey, Smith (Igoe), Parkinson, Cureton, Butler, Hodges (Rougier). Subs not used: Howie, Gurney, Mackie.

Millwall: Warner, Lawrence, Ryan, Dolan, Dyche, Ifill, Cahill, Livermore, Kinet (Reid), Harris, Moody. Subs not used: Gueret, Neill, Nethercott, Sadlier.

Bookings:  Cahill, Harris, Livermore, Reid (Millwall).
Referee: M L Dean (Wirral)

This was a massively disappointing result for Reading - as well as a massively disappointing performance. In front of a big crowd, playing against a team managed by Mark McGhee we came off second best by a long way. The score and the match statistics show a close run thing, but it was only close after Reading came back into the game when Millwall already had it won. By half time we were already dead and buried at 0-3 down, and when Mackie pulled a player back in the area for a penalty which made it 0-4, there would be only one result. Thankfully Millwall failed to keep the momentum up and Reading managed to pull back three goals to give a respectable result even if it was the wrong result. Although there's no doubt that heads dropped when we went one goal, two goals and then three goals down, it was hard to fault the effort of the team after they battled back in the second half - which means we must have some serious tactical problems somewhere. Millwall were clearly a good side that defended very well and with Harris up front they are always likely to score goals, but we should never have let them go four goals up.

Things looked bright at kick-off. A sunny day, a well filled Madejski Stadium and a good atmosphere from both the home and away fans, with the return of McGhee adding some spice. With Millwall top of the table, but Reading still in touch, and with home advantage, it looked set to be a real contest. Reading's only change was Mackie returning to the centre of defence with Viveash out suspended. After half an hour all the pre-match excitement and anticipation had gone. Millwall were three goals up and the only noise to be heard was coming from the jubilent 3,000 fans in the away end singing the praises of Mark McGhee. Yet it had been Reading that had got off to the better start.

Right from kick off Reading went on the attack. If we'd made the most of the chances we created within the opening fifteen minutes it might have been a completely different story. Caskey probably should have shot after the ball came to him well inside the area with just the keeper in the way - instead he played it more into the middle looking for someone else to finish it, and Millwall got it clear. Moments later Butler was delivered the ball on the edge of the box with Caskey spare to his right. If he'd knocked it on it would have found Caskey with just the keeper to beat, but instead he shot low and straight at the Millwall goalkeeper.

In an indication of some of the scrappy play that was to come Millwall picked up two yellow cards for a couple of heavy late challenges on Caskey and Robinson. The two bookings almost worked to Millwall's advantage though as it was clear that they were winning the game physically. This pattern of play was to continue with Robinson being replaced during the first half for Graeme Murty after going down under a heavy challenge in front of the East Stand. Millwall may have conceeded a fair few fouls but they were winning a huge amount of perfectly legal challenges with Reading losing out on nearly every fifty fifty ball. Only Parkinson was winning his fair share of balls in midfield - the rest of the players were really strugging to keep hold off the ball. Reading may have got off to the slightly better start but Millwall were far from uncomfortable.

Mark McGhee probably had his fixed smug grin in place as early as the 17th minute when Harris gave Millwall the lead. It was a killer blow that Reading failed to recover from. A cross was knocked in from the left, Reading failed to defend it probably and Harris hooked it in from close range towards the centre of goal. 0-1. Millwall continued on the attack and almost made it two a couple of minutes later with Whitehead pushing a shot out for a corner with a mid air save to his right. It was from a corner that Millwall did make it two with just 22 minutes gone. The ball was played in from the left and flew through a crowd of players to find Harris towards the far post with no-one even slightly near. We couldn't have been more generous and since it would have been rude of him not to accept such a kind offering he prodded it home. 0-2.

At 0-2 down Reading looked their worst and seemed unable to do anything but hoof the ball forward, head it about a bit, and generally lose possession to Millwall. Millwall took full advantage on the half hour after a cross flew off a couple of players and went in off ex-Millwall player Ricky Newman to make it 0-3.

Desperate times called for desperate measures. It was clear it wasn't working and Pardew, sensing a stuffing, made a double substitution. Some might say he should have started with Igoe and Rougier on the pitch to attack Millwall and look for the early goal. Since he hadn't done that it made perfect sense to bring the two players on at this stage. At 0-3 down we needed at least three goals to get anything from the game, so it was time to play some proper football along the ground and go on the attack looking for something. Off come a very disappointed Neil Smith and Lee Hodges. Pardew would have hoped for an immediate impact and perhaps a goal to give us a realistic chance in the second half. Unforutnately little seemed to change at this point with no service to the front men. At half time Reading were booed off the pitch by some sections of the crowd - the Millwall fans couldn't be happier.

Millwall sealed victory five minutes into the second half. They broke into the Reading area and Mackie, who was getting beaten far too often, held his man back rather than let him run through and score. The resulting penalty was fired low into the bottom left of the net with Whitehead still on his feet bouncing the wrong direction. 0-4, and the game was effectively over. For a moment or two we feared another heavy stuffing, but thankfully Reading didn't stop playing despite the inevitable defeat while Millwall seemed to fade.

Millwall had been playing some nice on the floor football, passing it around and generally looking the better side - so much so their fans took delight in singing about how they were taking the piss... However at four goals up they seemed to abandon that style of game and let Reading do all the hoofing with both Mackie and Hunter whacking the ball all over the place rather than pass it sensibly out of defence. The second half seemed to be quickly degenerating into a hoofing contest with both sides hoofing the ball all over the place rather than play it on the ground. Thankfully Igoe and Murty preferred playing it along the floor - and perhaps it was their influence that helped get Reading back into the game.

Murty was one of the brightest points for the home fans - he followed up his suprise appearance on the pitch by a performance of suprising quality for a player that's been side lined for so long. Last time he made a re-appearance from injury he looked rusty and not fully fit. Today he made some great runs forward, looked pacey, and also managed to get back fast to put in some excellent tackles. In a day of suprises it was the smallest man on the pitch, little Sammy Igoe, who popped up at the far post to head the ball home from a Cureton cross from the left on 65 minutes. 1-4.

With fifteen minutes to go Reading seemed back in with a remote chance after the ball bounced up in the area and a handball was awarded. A rare stroke of luck for the Royals which Caskey didn't waste. 2-4, and 15 minutes left for Reading to try and get something out of the game. Down the other end Millwall's chances were becoming more limited, but they could still have made it 2-5 after Newman fell over leaving a clear run on goal. Thankfully Millwall blasted it high over the crossbar.

Bizarrely we could have pulled level during the last ten minutes when we made as many chances as we had all game, including winning a whole load of corners and free-kicks. Caskey had two free kicks in typical Caskey territory - either of those could have gone in. One flew wide to the right - but not far out, the other was saved by the keeper after it beat the wall and looked to be heading into the top left corner. Phil Parkinson showed his true battling qualities by bursting through the centre of defence, beating a couple of men, and almost beating the keeper. If the ball had stayed a little closer to him he could have made it 3-4. Reading did make it 3-4 just into injury time when a corner from the right was stuck in by Jamie Cureton. If we'd had an extra ten minutes we might well have got a point or more - but Cureton's goal was the last kick of the game.

We might have scored another three home goals but it's yet another league defeat against a side we had to beat. And a McGhee side at that. Reading have managed just two wins from the last eight league games and lost four - which just isn't promotion form.

Following report by Neil Cole:

Any fading hopes of automatic promotion were really put into perspective today, as Reading were comfortably beaten at home by league leaders Millwall. Mark McGhee’s team are the first of what can be seen as title contenders to visit the Madejski this season, and the ease with which they took the points is more than a little worrying. The scoreline in the end deeply flatters the Royals, who only got back in the game when Millwall had the match sewn up and had in effect stopped trying.

The importance of this match could not have been overestimated. With Millwall already eight points clear of us at the top, a win was needed to get them back in our sights. However, today’s result instead sees them move even further away, and the eleven point gap looks huge when you consider what poor form Reading are in. The team weren’t good enough today, defensively in particular, and at times some of Pardew’s tactics were a joke. Performances like these will see us struggle to even make the play-offs, let alone one of the top two spots.

Alan Pardew resisted the temptation to start with a more attacking line-up, instead sticking with the midfield that struggled to get a point against Northampton. The only change from that match was at centre-back, where the suspended Adi Viveash was replaced by John Mackie. This team was soon proved to be woefully inept, as Millwall were 3-0 up within half an hour. The inexperienced Mackie could not cope with Neil Harris, who is surely the best striker in Division Two. Harris’ finishing today earned him his third hat-trick of the season, and even our own Butler and Cureton must concede they’re not going to finish the league’s top scorer this season.

As well as the weakness in defence, the midfield was dreadful to begin with today. Every pass Hodges played seemed to find a Millwall player, while Parky and Smith could not get a grip on the game. Caskey was at the centre of the few chances we did have in the first half, but he was unable to find a goal from anywhere.

It wasn’t long before the class of Harris showed up our inadequacies. His first came after comfortably turning Mackie in the area and finishing well past Whitehead. The second was simple, as dreadful marking allowed him far too much space at the far post. The threat of Harris and strike partner Moody soon created a third, as ex-Millwall player Ricky Newman headed into his own net.

The scoreline must surely have shocked everyone in the ground, particularly Alan Pardew who made a double substitution shortly after the third goal. He abandoned the defensive midfield, replacing Smith and Hodges with Sammy Igoe and Tony Rougier. He was then forced to use a third substitution, as Graeme Murty came on for the injured Matt Robinson.

While these changes were appreciated by the Reading fans, the tactics used with them were bizarre to say the least. Martin Butler dropped back into a left-sided midfield role, with Rougier playing up front with Jamie Cureton. Murty replaced Robinson directly at left-back, instead of playing on his favoured right side.

The changes had little effect, and Millwall scored a fourth shortly after the break. Mackie was again beaten by Harris, and his frustrated tug of the Millwall striker’s shirt gave the visitors a penalty. Harris completed his hat-trick and secured the points for the Lions.

Reading didn’t give up, and at 0-4 at last started to show some pride in their game. Murty switched to the right and had a decent second half, as did Sammy Igoe who looked determined to lead the fightback. It was Igoe who got the Royals first, heading a goal mid-way through the second half.

At this point getting anything from the game was still unlikely, but when Newman’s cross was handled in the box by a Millwall a defender we were given some hope. Caskey scored the penalty, and with fifteen minutes to go Reading pressed for another.

However, where Stoke had buckled in a similar situation earlier in the season, Millwall were more resilient. Their defence held out, and no more mistakes were made until the last kick of the game, when Jamie Cureton’s shot was deflected in. It was too late, and final whistle immediately followed the re-start. Reading had somehow got to within a goal of rescuing a point, but in truth Millwall easily deserved all three points.

This performance more than the result surely ends any dreams of winning the league. While a dramatic improvement in form could still yield automatic promotion, the last few performances have been very poor. We’re in danger now of dropping out of the top six, and need to find something quickly if we are to keep with the leaders.

Post Match Opinions

In his programme notes, Alan Pardew commented that the outcome of this match would be decided by the success of the strikers on the day. How wrong he was.
It was decided by the ineptitude of the defences.
We simply could not cope with Harris with any degree of competence, the game was decided by his ability to convert the chances that he had, because we did not deal with him. They were poor goals that we gave away. Yet the first 15 minutes saw the Royals in charge. We played some good football, might have scored but did not. As soon as Millwall scored, heads went down. Millwall looked a good side but nothing special. What they had was a striker on fire, like ours were earlier in the season. If you have that then the rest becomes easy. They also won more of the 50 50 challenges and that is unacceptable. If we are to play a 'balanced midfield' then the ball winners must do that. If they are not going to do that then let's start with an attacking formation and go for it. Credit to Pardew for changing it round, but by then the damage was done. The stars of the Royals performance were undoubtedly Murty and Caskey. They realize the need to play the ball to feet, and to try to keep the ball. Too many balls were played from the back in the air, needless to say the ball came straight back. The only target we have from goalkicks is Hodges and he is not exactly Duncan Ferguson!
Milwall operated as a unit better than we did.
It is true that they have had longer to build their team in terms of overall development, but this was a massive blow to our hopes of automatic promotion. It nearly puts Milwall out of sight, but they will continue to let in goals if they defend as they did yesterday. Wigan do not loose many games. What we need to do is to return to winning games. The key to that is to sort out the centre of defence where we were desperately missing Viveash and Williams. Is it time for us to look again at playing three central defenders. Murty (assuming he stays fit) can play as a wing back as can Robinson. That would enable us to play a midfield three of Caskey, Parkinson and Rougier with Butler and Cureton up front. Whilst we might have some trouble out wide defensively, it would stabilize the middle. Theoretically we would not play so much in the air, and going forward we are always likely to score. Yesterday was a massive disappointment, there have been too many recently. Now is the time to dig in, get behind the team.
A win next Saturday would be a marvellous tonic for all concerned!

-- Kenneth C

It was obvious that Mark McGhee was going to make sure his team wasnt beaten today after Pardew's stupid comments in the Evening Post and also the stupid comments by the announcer before the match.
We ended up with egg on our face!
It showed the difference in class between the two teams and I think the score line flattered Reading. Millwall's quality of football was far better and they played as team rather than eleven individuals and this from a team that had made no new signings this season. Ok, we had Viveash out but Hunter was rubbish being content to hoof the ball up the pitch. I think we will be very lucky to achieve the play offs. Again Caskey was one of our better players but we seem content not to sign him and let him go on a free the end of the season. The fact we made the two substitutions before half time showed that Pardew had got the team selection wrong again.
All in all a very poor and disappointing performance.

-- JD Royal

Forget the scoreline, this was an easy one for Millwall. Harris won the battle of the strikers with Cureton and Butler and it wasn't even close. The same starting line up as against Northampton when it had already proven it could not break down a good defence nor finish. We showed the top place was out of sight and not deserved by us. Some really bad performances on the field by individuals such as Butler and Hunter and an overall defence that just couldn't cope. Any good points? Well the fans kept the faith and urged the team on, few left before the end, the team were applauded on after half time despite being 3-0 down and were not booed off at the end(at least where I was sitting). Igoe showed he should have a start with the team, Parkie battled nonstop (of course) and Caskey has refound his enthusiasm getting involved everywhere no matter how bad things seemed.
Some of the players just disappeared and didn't seem to want the ball when the going got tough.
All the Millwall players wanted that ball and it showed.
Perhaps now is the time to blood players like Gamble and Tyson. I don't think they could do worse.

-- Bucks Royal

Listening to the radio on my trip from London confirmed my worst fears when the team was announced. Last week I said we could not beat Millwall with the same team approach that we displayed against Northampton, but once again Pardew started with Hodges & Smith leaving Igoe & Rougier on the bench. Same out come only worse, against a better side than Northampton. It is obvious that without Adie Williams to steady the defence we are shaky at the back. Hunter had an awful game and Whitehead's distribution was only marginally better than last week.
Bringing on Rougier & Igoe changed things but only bought a reward in the last quarter of the match. When we are shaky at the back attack this is the best form of defence and with Rougier on the ball Millwalls defence backed off.
Its about time Pardew (who has done well for the Royals in a short space of time) learnt from his mistakes and played to our strengths not the oppositions. We have two of the best strikers in the league but they can only score if they get a decent service. With Rougier on the wing we can swap the formation from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 without substitutions. Second half the football from Reading was better and we looked like the team we promise to be (after all we won the second half didn't we). Its about time that our best players got a run in the side and we climbed the table.

-- Mark, London Royal

Any doubts about where the Royals really stand were answered today. After several unconvincing performances recently, giving away points cheaply to Bristol Rovers (throwing away what should have been an easy victory) and struggling against Northampton (a solid team but one which should be brushed aside by any potential promotion candidates) Reading look set for yet another season in Div 2. Any team going into Division 1 needs to have a settled, well balanced and committed side with plenty of strength in depth. The Royals need to rebuild the defence and midfield now and do so quickly if they want to have aspirations of playing at a higher level.
The only department which is effective is up front, but without quality service from midfield Cureton, Butler, Rougier and co are running around burning up the energy needed to finish off moves. This has been demonstrated only too well by Butler, a player who possesses all the necessary attributes of a quality forward, but who has been missing sitters in the last half dozen matches due in no small part to his chasing around tirelessly in midfield.
As in several games at home and especially the game at Bristol there is no passion, running off the ball or killer instinct in Royals' play to give the appearance of a team who really WANTS to go up.
Next season we will no doubt be without Caskey, only have Williams for the usual half season and have Parky and Hunter nearing the end of their playing days. Additions to the squad and motivation need to be instigated now before another year is wasted. As there are no teams as yet who are pulling away at the top, this season still offers the best chance of promotion especially as the three sides being relegated from Div 1 who will provide stronger opposition than the ones who came down last year.
As we seem to say every year "it's a make or break time."

-- Kevin B

A thoroughly deserved win by a quality team. Millwall had players who were able to control the ball and pass it to a colleague, while Reading were content to hoof the ball in the general direction of Martin Butler. The match confirmed my opinion that Mark McGhee was the best manager I have seen in 16 years at Reading, and that he should have been invited back after Tommy Burns' departure.
-- John Owen

Forget the final score, this was total humiliation today for a Reading team that was made look pathetic against a team that played football just the way we used to under the management of Mark McGhee. What must John Madjeski have thought looking down, as Millwall showed how football should be played and Reading resorting to long balls and were unable to put two passes together combined with defending that wouldn't look out of place , with respect , in the Reading Sunday League division 6! What the bloody hell is Pardew playing at? What's the point of starting with Igoe and Rougier on the bench and once again Caskey wasted out on the right. It's no frigging good bringing them on when we're 3- 0 down!
How on earth are we going to win games with Smith, Hodges and Parky in midfield? They all play the same, ball winners and with the passing skills of an elephant. As a consequence the defence are resorting the hoofing it over the midfield where as was seen today it just comes straight back.
This is starting to look like one of the most negative Reading teams seen for a long time.
Is Whitehead going to carry on booting the ball anywhere up field for the rest of the season, or taking goal kicks straight onto Hodges head, who to be fair does very well winning the ball, but where does it get us? Nowhere! Why can't he throw the ball to the fullbacks and pass the bloody ball..... like Millwall do.
I'm sorry to be so pessimistic, it hurts me, but there are two things which never lie in football ...... your eyes and the league table .
We're simply not good enough, managed by a manager who doesn't seem to have a clue and wants his team to play how he used to, i.e. battle away and boot it up field. How many can honestly say that today they wish the other manager was managing the Royals? Mr Madjeski may have his pride, but he may have made a very costly decision in turning McGhee down in favour of Pardew . He wouldn't have us playing like a complete load of tossers.

-- Nick

Men against boys.
-- Worthing Royal

I listened to the post match comments from both managers and disagreed with them both. Alan Pardew felt that we’d come up short to the best in the league and that Neil Harris is a class act. McGhee felt that a true reflection on the game was 4 or 5 nil.
Reading started well even with a defensive midfield but if you give away 3 goals to even Oxford (and we did that as well didn’t we) you’re going to make the opposition look good, give them confidence and change the course of the game. Up until then Millwall appeared a big aggressive side and not much more. I thought some of their challenges were close to red cards and the foul on Robinson was far too late.
Our defending was a disaster.
We missed Viveash and we miss Williams. The chances we gave Harris would make anyone look good. If he’s that good, at least make him earn the goals, not give them to him on a plate. I don’t blame Mackie, he’s a young lad learning his trade and to beat Millwall we needed to be on top of our game and not make mistakes. As for Millwall, having gifted them 4 goals, I wouldn’t be happy if I was McGhee to see them give away 3 and nearly blow it completely. Cureton’s chance late on might have been decisive if he had taken it. Their goalkeeper looked suspect and without Harris how good would they be. Are they in the same class as Fulham or Man City when they were in Div 2, I don’t think so. AP’s programme notes said that this game and the one at Stoke would tell him if Reading are good enough to go up. They need to bounce back against Stoke and there’s still plenty of time left so need to hit the panic button yet. But my view has been all along that there’s something missing. Caskey’s the only one that makes it happen, the midfield four that started was probably too negative and I’d stick with the four that finished to play at Stoke. Our front two do not get the type of service they need. Just as our defence made Harris look good, so the service we give our strikers makes their defence look good. We haven’t got big Moody to put it in the air to, so keep it on the ground. Strangely enough, I think that either Butler or Cureton would benefit from such a player by their side (i.e. Moody) although someone more skilful. We need a more adventurous midfield. We need someone other that Caskey to do it as well and that means the cheque book. It seems we now need a left back, could it be Andy Legg back again?
We are not a big team, clogging our way out of the league.
We want to play football, we need a bit more quality to do so. We’re not in a bad position and so some investment is not that risky. An automatic place is not out of the question and I’m not convinced that Millwall will necessarily win it. That said, we’ve dropped more than enough points already, not always against good teams, so maybe this is the kick up the backside we need. And if we’re going to play football we need to be so much better that the opposition particularly on heavy pitches and against teams that want to kick us off the park.

-- Chris.

Judging by other opinions voiced here I think many of us feel that this was a result waiting to happen. I am still backing Alan Pardew - long term he'll get us where we want to be but its high time he realised few things that have been staring him in the face for far to long. Adi Williams is the best central defender we have and Vivash is decent second. Without the former we look far less assured and without both we'll never make an impact on this division - if he can't buy it's time to loan. I believe he's been trying to compensate for his weaker backline by putting out a more defensive midfield. It hasn't worked and has only succeeded in making us less potent up front.
Our purple patch earlier this season was ended by Igoe's injury and I was concerned to hear in the Managers pre-match comments that he's looking for a wide man. It seems to me little Sammy's not been given too much of a chance since his return. Having both him and Rougier in the starting line-up might be a bridge too far but one is surely a must. I'm still glad I bought my newly aquired season ticket, we've still got time to get out of this god foresaken division ! Lets just pray that this time next year we'll be looking back on last saturday as the day we turned the corner.
May I finally say that the PA announcers remarks regarding Mark McGhee left me speechless. We don't like what he did to us and I joined in the stick we gave him a few years back, but, we're now talking 5 years ago! As I sat back in my seat it seemed inevitable that this would be rammed back down our throats with interest.
In any case it made us look small and surely bordered on crowd incitement which, given Millwall's reputation, the Police wuold hardly thank us for.


I disagree with the report above which says Millwall's defence was good. I thought they were just as bad as Reading's defence and what makes the result more frustrating is that Alan Pardew said exactlythat before the game. So if he knew that was a weakness why did he not start with Rougier, the only Reading player able to run at defences. Martin Butler was woeful and played as badly as he did against Northampton - he isn't suddenly a bad player but if he has lost form why start with him. Also the long arial balls don't work and this has been mentioned by people on this website numerous times so surely Alan Pardew has noticed it. We must remember how new he is to management and be patient but this is now the critical phase of home games - Walsall, Rotherham, Bristol City, Wigan all to come to the Madejski. So come back Adie Williams please and also drop Barry Hunter. John Mackie and Viveash are a fine duo at the back. Also well done Graeme Murty. A brilliant display that surprised us all I think.
-- Ascot Royal

I hate being right but Saturday proved my point that we aren't good enough to go up yet. Everything I feared came true on Saturday our back four isn't good enough against the top sides and Pardew again brings on Igoe and Rogier when it's too late. What I couldn't believe was he stuck Butler out on the wing, probably because he has a left foot but we need him up front to hold the ball up as we are intent with playing the long ball game currently. The only plus point was hopefully Caskey proving finally to Pardew that he must play in the centre of midfield so he can influence games more. Although I was pleased we made the scoreline reasonable I'm convinced it was more to do with Millwall easing up in the second half and looking back it's a shame we weren't stuffed 4v0 to really hammer some home truths to the management and their tactics. Is Adrian Williams still at the club ? Another defeat at Stoke this week, mid table here we come.
-- Towner

The decline from November is frightening. The inability to learn from mistakes inexcusable. This has to be the most inept performance I have seen from Reading since the days of Tommy Burns. And we probably had the better players. Upto the first goal they were happy to just slug it out and could have been reduced to 10 men within 10 minutes. However, once they stopped defending and attacked they suddenly discovered that our castle is built on quick sand. Mackie was always 2 paces off, Robinson had his worst game in a Reading shirt and Hunter gave one of the worst performance of any I've seen from a Royals player.
In attack, questions were clearly asked as to how come Cureton gets dropped and Butler retains his place. Cureton kept moving (albeit without much affect) all day and had a few good runs at Milwall, Butler however failed to look like a five goal a season midfielder - let alone a top striker - when did he last score? Tactics were where the differences lay. I think this showed up what a great 'scout' Pardew is and what a great manager McGhee is (it pains me to say by the way). We have the players but they have the team and the tactics.
Why, oh why do we continue to pick a defensive midfield having blasted our way up the league prior to December through ruthless and devastating attacking?
Why are we bringing the away tactics that saw us lose so many back to the Madejski? Yes we scored three, but only because Millwall seemed to want to give value for money to all the fans. Highlight of the day (apart from leaving) was how well Murty finally did in a Reading shirt, with little Sammy Igoe also causing them havoc. Caskey and Parky should also retain places based on their performances but lets get back to attacking.

-- Tommy F
PS: Get well Mr Williams - we need you!
PPS: I still don't get the people who left after 30 minutes. Without days like these a scapped for 1-0 win will never give any enjoyment!

I hope you can still publish my report. I have purposely left it late as I didn't want to be too emotional whilst writing it. After having read all the other reports on Royals.cx I have to say I agree with almost every one and would have probably written something similar myself.
I have 3 things to say:
1) Alan Pardew - A young manager who has done well and looks at the long term (although to make the comments he did about Mcghee was both crass and stupid) He shows tactical naiivety and still has a lot to learn, however I think he still has the potential to make us into a good side. One thing which I think he needs to drop is this attitude of "no-one is bigger than me because I'm the manager", the dropping of Cureton, Caskey and not playing Rougier and Igoe enough are all decisions in my opinion that have been made to make a point. This sort of behaviour can be devisive and not team building.
2) Darren Caskey - I will freely admit I've not always been a fan of Caskeys but he clearly has shown especially in the last two seasons that he is a great asset and if we lose him especially to another 2nd division team it will be a huge loss and a very unwise decision. Let's hope it doesn't happen.
Finally 3) A promotion chasing side should always judge itself on it's results on the better teams in the league.
You can then start to to see how well you could do in a higher division.
Our results in a mini league are as follows:
10 1 3 6 14 23 6
Is there anything left to say ?!
Let's hope Pardew can learn from his mistakes, we keep Caskey and we have a great 2nd half of the season which at least gives us the chance of a play-off place.

-- Dean - Crowthorne Royal

Whoaa!! Suddenly Alan Pardew is a useless manager, and the team are a bunch of hoofing donkeys!! OK so it was a disappointing defeat, but let's not get it all out of context.
Alan Pardew HAS done wonders, and we have a side that IS capable of playing some football that is as sweet as the old McGhee days. Clearly more consistency is needed and we are weak in some areas. For me we simply lacked pace and organisation at the back, and lacked a target man up front. Igoe and Rougier made a great impact when they came on but how can you say Pardew go it wrong when for the first 15 minutes we were all over them. Three goals (caused by lack of pace ourselves down the flanks) sent the team rocking on their heels, and silenced the East stand (much is the shame).
You cannot criticise the team for heads dropping, if we can't keep behind the team all the way. Once we scored late in the game the crowd came alight, and so did the team, and although it would have been unfair to Millwall another 10 minutes may have seen us get a point ..... or even three! I stood and applauded the team at the end for a hard fought effort against the odds, and will be back next time in good voice.
We lost, but I was entertained. Remember all those years where you felt like saying "that's it, I'm never going again." Get off their backs, and lets get behind them next time.
We CAN do it!

-- Gary, Woking

Saturday was my first visit to the Madhouse since the Colchester match (no I'm not a Jonah - remember York didn't need me!) I agree with the general mood of all the comments made - we didn't play as a team, no running off the ball, no passing to our own players (alright I'm exaggerating but only just). Do our players like each other and want to help one another? We displayed very little teamwork, nobody seemed to learn from mistakes. It really isn't funny to see all the outfield players crowd in one part of the field every time Whitehead gets the ball. If only Howie could learn to how clear the halfway line maybe we could give him a try instead or, I know it's radical, play it short or throw it to one of our players, they might even be able to keep it for a while! By all account Howie seems to be doing a good job for the reserves, coping with crosses even - Whitehead on Saturday seemed to change his mind on several occasions.
How can players in front of him guess what he's going to do when he doesn't seem to know himself. I'm not blaming him alone, I'm sure it must be difficult (without a crystal ball) to guess what his "team" are going to do next. - Answers on a post card to A.Pardew, usual address. The saying on my block calendar at work for Saturday was "When you're down you are not necessarily a failure. It's staying down that makes a failure".
Come on URZ! - the only way is UP! - We are still in the LDV Vans Trophy. See you all at Hereford.

-- Eddie - Salop Royal.

Say what you like about Mark McGhee, he was the best manager Reading have had in the time I have been a supporter (late 70's). He brought a Millwall side on Saturday that played an attractive passing game just as we did in his spell at Elm Park. We now appear to have resorted back the boring long ball game we played before McGhee arrived. Unfortunately we aren't very good at it and against both Northampton and Millwall, couldn't get on the end of anything in the air. Given time and experience Alan Pardew is going to be a good manager, but he must not resort to these tactics. Even if it means we don't gain promotion, I would rather see us trying to play football as it was meant to be.
-- Simon (Brighton Royal)

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