(Half Time: 1-0)
Reading Scorers: Igoe (87 mins)
Wycombe Wanderers Scorers: Lee (39 mins)
Date: 6 March 2001
Attendance: 6,788

Reading: Whitehead, Robinson, Viveash (Igoe), Whitbread, Murty, Parkinson, Caskey, Newman (Hodges), Cureton (Rougier), Butler, McIntyre (Rougier). Subs not used: Howie, Hunter.

Wycombe Wanderers: Taylor, Townsend (Essandoh), Bates, Cousins, Vinnicombe, Ryan, Bulman, Castledine, Johnson, Brown, Lee, Clegg. Subs not used: Harkin, Brady, Beeton.

Bookings: Brown, Townsend (Wycombe); Caskey, Hodges, Newman (Reading).
Referee: P Jones (Loughborough)

It's possible to feel both pleased and disappointed with this result tonight after Reading grabbed a late equaliser to take a share of the points away from Adams Park. Reading played the best football and had most of the possession as they spent the second half doing nearly all the attacking - however we so nearly came away with nothing after having such big problems finding the back of the net and conceeding a goal against the run of play in the first half. With Igoe's late goal for the Royals we all came away feeling quite happy with the point which stretches our unbeaten run to nine league matches. However for a large period of the game our inability to do anything with all the crosses pumped into the box and a frustrating performance from the referee looked like it might provide a disappointing outcome for the sold-out allocation of Reading fans.

With James Harper and Keith Jones both missing from the squad, presumably with the flu, Pardew fielded Ricky Newman in midfield with Murty and Robinson as the full backs. Both Murty and Robinson were to have good games moving the ball forward down the wing. Although Murty got caught out more than once during the second half as Reading pushed forwards looking for the vital equaliser. Viveash returned into the centre of the defence after being suspended on Saturday - and looked so much more secure than Barry Hunter.

Reading had the best of the first half without ever really creating a load of chances. Jimmy McIntyre was having a great game working down the wing and provided some dangerous crosses into the middle of the box. More than once during the first half we looked certain to score as the ball flew across the face of goal - if either Jamie Cureton or Martin Butler had managed to stick their foot on it we would have gone a goal up. A McIntyre cross from the left, one of many, nearly resulted in Butler scoring after Caskey played it on. However, Butler's shot was wide. Reading could have had the lead in the opening ten minutes when a close range shot inside the box on the left was blocked on the line. Despite seeing most of the ball Reading were finding it mission impossible to find the net. Phil Parkinson was presented with a great opportunity as the ball wasn't cleared properly after the keeper legged it out of his box. Parky saw the open goal and hit it first time, if it had curled to the right instead of the net it might have found it's way in - but instead the keeper just managed to get back to collect.

With the game drifting towards half time the home team took the lead against the run of play, six minutes before the break. Caskey was guilty of pulling a player down well inside the Reading half, and as a result the ball was moved 10 yards closer to goal for the free kick on the right corner of Whitehead's box. The free-kick by Wycombe's Lee found its way to the left of the Reading wall and found an unpositioned Whitehead leaving a far too big slice of the goal wide open. Whitehead dived to his right but only managed to get a single hand on it as it flew into the side of the net. 0-1.

Just before the break Butler went flying inside the Wycombe box after running past the keeper. It was hard to see exactly what had happened from all the way down our end behind the Reading goal. But there were definate appeals for a penalty from the Reading players. That might have put a different direction on the game.

As it was the second half was to only see more frustration as we were denied a decent half by some poor refeering. Reading looked to increase the pace of the game during the second half as we pushed forwards. However every time we built up a spell of solid pressure the game would come to a stop for a good few minutes as a Wycombe player seemed to need extensive treatment on the pitch. The game never really managed to get flowing as the referee continually stopped play for all kinds of silly free kicks. Even so, Reading spent most of the second half inside the Wycombe half looking for the goal. It was clear the players were just as frustrated as us as we kept on losing out insdie the area to some great crosses. Martin Butler kept drifting wide to help out attacks down the wing and we kept on failing to take control inside the Wycombe box. Their keeper claimed a couple of crosses, but the rest seemed to be scrambled clear or eventually take an unlucky bounce that kept up from sticking them home.

The ball dropped for Matt Robinson just inside the box who fired his shot well over the Reading fans behind the goal. Phil Parkinson got a lot closer with his effort after a cross wasn't cleared - however that too found its way over the Wycombe cross bar - much to Parky's clear disappointment. As Reading went on the attack we looked likely to get caught a couple of time as Wycombe broke. Once they definately should have scored after a quick move that found Reading beaten at the back. The ball was played into the path of their striker inside the Reading box who really should have scored but seemed to hit it wide to the right from hardly any distance at all. On another break they had a penalty appeal waved away.

With the game starting to slip away, Pardew brought Hodges, Rougier, and Igoe on in three seperate substitutions to throw everything into some attacking play. Igoe came on for Viveash with five minutes to go as we pushed everything forward. Rougier looked dangerous with a couple of great runs that confused the Wycombe defence. Once he crossed well from the left to Cureton who failed to finish. Moments after that Butler nearly connected with a Rougier cross from the left.

The breakthrough came just three minutes from the end when the ball was played forward down the right wing and then switched to the left. McIntyre cut in close to the edge of the box on the left and crossed with loads of players packed into the Wycombe box. A couple of players had a go before the ball was clearly handled on the line by a Wycombe defender. The referee wasn't going to give the penalty - which was lucky because the ball dropped to Sammy Igoe, well inside the area on the right. Igoe slammed it home with his first touch of the ball after coming off the subs bench. 1-1 and we all went mental. Parky's celebration in front of the away end on his knees sparked a mini-pitch invasion and the Reading fans were in full voice.

Perhaps if the game had gone on another ten minutes we might have managed to steal a win from the game. As it was with the constant rain, and constant play stopping by the referee the second half was a scrappy half, and we have to be pleased with the successful rescue of a point. Millwall lost, but Rotherham won tonight - so there's even more pressure for a Reading win on Friday that could make it ten league games unbeaten.

Following report by Neil Cole:

A late scrambled equaliser protected Reading's unbeaten run, as Reading rescued a point at neighbours Wycombe having trailed for much of the game. The performance was far from the best we have seen in this run of fine results, but the result keeps us on track and moves us a point closer to Mark McGhee's Millwall.

Reading must have fancied their chances against a Wycombe side that has been crippled by injuries and suspensions. However, the Royals too had their selection problems, with both Keith Jones and James Harper missing because of 'flu. It was particularly disappointing for Harper, after his exciting debut against Rotherham on Saturday. Harper's position was filled by Ricky Newman, making a rare start in the position we actually signed him for.

However, after playing well at full-back all season, Newman was moved into the middle today and had a nightmare. It's been a long time since he played in the middle, and this became increasingly obvious as he failed to have an impact on the game at all. The rest of the midfield was also surprisingly ineffective, with Caskey having one of his worst games and Parkinson failing to make a decent pass all night.

The first half an hour of the match was very poor, with both teams looking like they would prefer to be somewhere else. Wycombe presumably had their minds on their cup tie at Leicester coming up, while the Reading players looked surprisingly uninterested in the game. It took a half-time roasting from Alan Pardew before Reading woke up, and by then we were already a goal down.

The goal itself was due to petulance from Darren Caskey followed by poor concentration from the defence. Caskey gave away a free-kick for a needless tug, forty yards from goal. With the cross imminent, Caskey was the only man in the Reading wall, and he charged the ball down from about five yards. Caskey was deservedly booked and the ball moved forward ten yards. Despite the now close proximity of the free-kick, amazingly Caskey remained the only man in the wall, as everyone presumed Lee would still cross the ball. He saw his opportunity and the Wycombe man fired in a shot which Whitehead could only parry into the net.

The goal was perhaps a little harsh on Reading, as Wycombe had failed to threaten at all in the first half. However, it serves as a reminder to our defence that any lapse in concentration can cost us points. Reading could have got back in the game shortly afterwards, as Jimmy McIntyre was knocked over in the Wycombe box by their keeper. It looked a clear penalty from the away end, but the ref who was much closer decided it was only worth a corner.

Things improved in the second half, as the Royals eventually got their game together. All of Reading's attacks came from the left, as Robinson and McIntyre started to combine well. McIntyre was Reading's only consistent threat, and he put in a number of dangerous crosses in the second half which should have got better reward. However, Cureton and Butler both picked today to have an off-day, and they struggled to get anything on target.

Alan Pardew made all three substitutions in the second period to try and liven up the Reading performance. Newman was replaced with Hodges, while Cureton was taken off for Rougier. Hodges nearly made the difference, as he twice found himself in a good position during a sustained spell of pressure from Reading. However, his first effort was very weak, and the second time he decided to pass despite having a clear shot on goal.

It was the third substitution which eventually brought Reading an equaliser. In a surprisingly bold move from Pardew, Adi Viveash was replaced with Sammy Igoe. The substitute got Reading's goal with virtually his first kick of the game, following an almighty goalmouth scramble. Murty crossed, into the box, and three Reading players somehow managed to miss from close range before Igoe eventually smashed the ball in. It was probably the scrappiest goal we'll ever score, but it rescued a point for Reading and sent the large travelling support away fairly content.

Rougier looked very lively in the last ten minutes, and comfortably beat his marker time and time again. However, with Cureton taken off there was never anyone to finish off his good work. Wycombe briefly threatened to get a winner at the end, but Parky did a fine job as stand-in centre back and the game finished 1-1.

The performance wasn't one of the best, but it's now nine unbeaten as Reading continue their push for promotion. Friday's game sees another of our rivals visit the Madejski, and it would be nice if the Royals could turn on their best form for the Sky cameras.

Post Match Opinions

I was high up in the upper tier of the Woodlands stand and had a good view of the two key incidents. It was a clear penalty - the keeper bought him down as he rounded him. Even the Wycombe fans around me thought it was a pen - the ref may have been unsighted but the linesman should have had a clear view. For their free kick, if Caskey was less than 10 yards the ref did not pull him back before the kick was taken and he did not 'charge' the kick. Surely, the correct decision shopuld be just to re-take the kick - there was no dissent. When the free kick moved forward, we all moved back rather than making a wall as I guess players did not want to lose the men they were already marking to make a wall. Whitehead should have sorted it out. Overall we looked by far the better team, but it just wasn't our night and at least we came away with a point when for a long period it looked as if we would get nothing out of it. Lets hope Harper is fit for Friday - in for Caskey.
-- Simon, Oxford Royal

Well , was this a case of a good away point or two pints lost, the later I think. After eventually arriving at the dump of a ground ( can there be a worse ground to get to in the Football League ) all the talk from Wycombe fans was how many would we win by. They didn't have a quarter of a side yet alone half a side!
Yet once again Reading FC failed to take advantage and blew a wonderful opportunity to put pressure on both Millwall and Rotherham. This may appear rather hard following our tremendous recent run, but, what the bloody hell was Pardew playing at with his tactics last night ? Talk about big boot or what ! Where was the passing? All we proceeded to do was hoof it upfield straight on the heads of the two Wycombe centre backs who I though had a very good games. We hardly won one ball all night in the box, and as for our corners ....my Mrs could do better !!
The turning point was clearly their goal, and blame must go to Lardarse Caskey who capped a memorable useless display by not getting back ten yards, getting the kick moved forward and them promptly scoring. We were always chasing then and thank god the equaliser came ! Looked like two clear penalties turned down yet again by a complete tosser of a referee. God the officials are so crap nowadays ............shame they're not prone to Foot and Mouth. So in the end it felt like a good result, and if we continue to draw away and win at home it'll be all right , but that big boot game will not get us out of this division.
Good result against Wigan with Harper back from flu will see us right in there.......URRZ!!

-- Nick Newbury

That's my best result in 3 games at Adams park - so I can't be too disappointed! Last night was just one of those evenings where the ball didn't look like it would find the Wycombe net so I was reasonably pleased with the final result - particularly being one down with less than 10 minutes left! In the second half it was like we were trying too hard to get the goal and the final pass would go astray or we'd snatch at the chance or a defender would get a last ditch touch on the ball. Having been so well disciplined in the face of some exceptionally nasty play on Saturday we gave away far too many silly free kicks last night, particularly when we were in promising attacking positions. I would have to disagree with the first comment on their goal - although Caskey did retreat 10 yards he moved forward at least 3/4 yards before their player actually played the ball - and therefore the ref was justified in his actions. Anyway - 9 matches unbeaten in the league and a real six-pointer too look forward on Friday night - I can't wait.
-- Henry P

I'm sending this report some 5 days after the game as I've only just got out of the car park at that dreadful little non-league ground. Tough game against a hard team in very wet conditions. We missed a lot of chances but I was grateful for Igoe popping up at the end for a fully deserved equaliser. Fantastic away support. I've just discovered my wife has reported me missing. Did anyone else get on the buses outside the ground? Big mistake.
-- Russ, Essex Royal.

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