MATCH REPORT: 2002/2003 Season

7 September 2002: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Reading: -
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 6,154

DIVISION ONE  7 Sep 2002
Pos Team P Pts GD
7 Nottm Frst 6 10 +4
8 READING 7 10 +1
9 Coventry 6 10 -1
Reading: Hahnemann, Newman, Mackie, Williams, Shorey (Upson 86), Forster, Hughes (Parkinson 48), Watson, Salako, Cureton, Butler (Rougier 75). Subs not used: Whitehead, Igoe.
Pollitt, Scott, McIntosh, Swailes, Hurst, Sedgwick, Daws, Mullin, Warne, Byfield (Robins 69), Lee. Subs not used: Gray, Richard Barker, Beech, Monkhouse.
Reading: Newman. Rotherham: McIntosh, Sedgwick.
Referee: M R Halsey (Welwyn Garden City)

Reading went eighth in the First Division table with an impressive away result against high-flyers Rotherham United. Reading travelled to Millmoor on the back of two straight league victories and came away with their third straight clean sheet, against a side that probably started the day as favourites for a home victory. The Royals had opportunities to win the match - but it could have swung either way with plenty of chances at both ends. This was probably the right result - a fair reflection of the play - and a result that leaves Reading flying high themselves. The shambolic mess that is "Wimbledon" visit the Madejski next in the league campaign and Reading will be looking for the victory that could lift them into the play-off positions at this early stage of the season.

The enforced absence of last season's player of the season, Graeme Murty, forced Pardew to name Ricky Newman at full back in the only change to the line-up. Newman was to slot in a treat despite his massive time out of the team through injury. The bench included new loan signing Matthew Upson - who is likely to start for the next league encounter after fully recovering from a recent injury himself. Upson played the last minutes minutes of this game, but should start to slot straight in after Reading's defence didn't look totally impressive during the first half. However, we held together reasonably well playing away from home across the whole ninety minutes. Hahnemann gave Phil Whitehead a few promising signs after a rough opening period in goal for Reading. Hahnemann failed to collect a couple of balls played into his area that he committed himself to and showed a weaker side to his game - but he'll be more than relieved to have pulled off yet another clean sheet. Hahnemann redeemed himself with a couple of great saves towards the end of the first half as the home side took the upper hand.

Despite Rotherham's superiority during the first half we could have taken a lead into the break from a couple of chances. Forster had the best one for Reading with about twenty minutes on the clock when he went on an excellent run twisting in and out of players before letting off a powerful shot from outside the area. Unfortunately Forster was denied by the crossbar. Jamie Cureton had our best other chance forcing a save from the keeper just before the break.

Reading gradually started getting more into the game during the second half and threatened to take the full three points. Watson had an opportunity to find the net but put his effort wide and Martin Butler was inches away from connecting with a Jamie Cureton cross which would surely have seen the ball in the back of the net with any real contact. Butler looked to have made up for it with a goal later but found his shot hacked clear from the line by the last defender after doing all the hard work by taking the ball past the goalkeeper. Rougier came of the bench and created a couple of good chances - but we failed to make the most of them. It was to be a day of missed opportunities for the front men as Rotherham proved when they should have stole victory themselves. Twice they found themselves clean through only to put the ball into orbit once and provide a tame back-pass style shot rather than find the net - much to the appreciation of Hahnemann.

paul kirkwood
I've hated Rotherham ever since they pipped Reading for the second promotion place the season before last. The cheek of it. It was like being overtaken by a clapped out Capri, the driver waving two-fingers out of the window, while your Ferrari is stalled on the hardshoulder. I ventured to Millmoor knowing that defeat would leave me practically foaming at the mouth. In the first half the home side had the majority of the chances and should' ve taken the lead. Reading looked unstable at the back, a situation not helped by the flapping Hahnemann. Up front we were limited to two major opportunities - a solo, 50 yard run by Forster that would've been goal of the season had the ball not clipped the bar and a free-kick from outside the box that went just wide. The Royals started the second half with more fire in their bellies and ended up deserving their point. I can never quite believe people who say that goalless draws can be entertaining but this was a case in point. Regardless of the quality of the entertainment, though, the admission fee of 18 was outrageous. Millmoor is hardly Old Trafford. The executive boxes are contained within what look like two rows of five converted skips stacked on top of one another. Highlight of the match? The home fans in two corners of the ground getting absolutely drenched from the continual rain in the second half. "You're getting wet, You're getting wet, We're not, We're not!". Indeed. Tee-hee. Not quite the revenge I was seeking but it'll do until we meet again.
bob lethaby
Before this match a point would have done me, but judging by the tvfm commentary we could have nicked three. Butler in particular could have won a hard fought fixture, but a point at Rotherham is not to be sniffed at, bigger sides will lose there this season. Due to holiday commitments I have missed much of the early season with the royals, but I am impressed with the way we have handled ourselves to date, and I think a top ten finish is not unrealistic, and you never know, with a bit of belief and a slice of luck we may be dreaming of a play off repeat of 1995. Well done to Pards for signing Mathew Upson on loan, a rampant Arsenal friend of mine rates him very highly. More quality signings may arrive in the winter shutdown, and though Madjeski would never admit it,because the Off Digital fiasco Reading are certainly one of the better off clubs in the division with a seemingly brighter future than most. Finally many thanks to Darren Hall for texting me results whilst I was away, though Reading 1 Coventry 2 was not what I needed an hour after having my wallet nicked.
Keep believing Reading!
darren hall
More clean sheets than a back street brothel after wash day! Reading's defensive record, and indeed overall Division One record, is enhancing with every match. To such an extend that someone showed me a copy of yesterday's Sun where the rampant Royals took Warbury apart 0-3 away (at the world famous Gasworks Road stadium) in the reallife soccer drama that is Striker (yet another clean sheet and we had Whitehead in goal !), does our reputation as Europe's in-form of the moment know no bounds. Pards and the boys have learnt an awful lot from the first 4 games and turned the season around into what is becoming a very impressive start. We have all said the matches 5,6 & 7 would tell us alot more than games 1,2,3 & 4 and happily that is the case and credit must go to the man in charge for moulding a squad that can adapt so quickly to life in the higher league despite the setbacks from a difficult run of opening fixtures. The very fact that Murty is out, Newman comes in and you can't see the join all bodes well for the season ahead, he seems to now know his best starting X1, has backup in the right places and the loan deal for Upson means competition for places is really hotting up and that can only be good. Next league game, home to Milton Keynes Athletic, let's keep this roll going and let's keep the goals against column blank again. Oh and do get there early to grab your places in the away end, as we will need at least a few people to throw the ball back when it goes behind the goal !
crowthorne royal
This is as much a bunch of comments on a really interesting day out as a match report. I would be very interested in people's views. As for the match, a draw was fair with both sides missing glorious chances. Brilliant for a 0-0, probably the best I've ever seen. Comment
1 - Did anyone else notice Whiteheads attitude towards Hannehman ? Surly, un-cooperative and miserable. - My concern with this is will it affect H's confidence?
2 - Hannehman's 1st half performance was truly shocking. Every part of his game other than 1 good save was terrible. I think he is an excellent keeper but what happened to make him flap like a pigeon in distress for most of the half?
3 - Mackie saved H with a brilliant header which actually hit me in the crowd! - I was so busy applauding the saving header it was a bit of a shock. Overall I thought Mackie was exceptional. Then, when I read 'Sport First' yesterday it gave Williams an 8 and Mackie a 7! - I thought Williams had a bit of a mare.
4 - The biggest issue to me in the first half was we had no-one winning the ball in midfield. I think this is a problem that we need to fix quickly. Maybe it's time for Ricky Newman to come back to midfield?
5 - What a difference Parky made when he came on. I've never been a huge fan of his playing ability (can't fault the man) but without his constant winning of posession we wouldn't have created half the chances we did 2nd half.
6 - When Rougier came on for Butler I thought, oh here we go another falling over most of the time performance from AR. What a surprise to see him mesmerise the Rotherham defence. The great thing was he didn't just beat players and then lose posession he put in two excellent crosses and could have scored two himself! - I know a lot of people are suggesting Butler is ineffective at the moment but I disagree. I don't think he is at the top of his game but he does a lot of things that are simple and effective that perhaps go unnoticed. Could Rougier have done that for 90 minutes? It would be interesting to see. One final point on Rougier - He was going ballistic at the end gesturing towards the fans as if to say that was for you boys, you'll see that again etc, interesting to see if Pards has asked him to change his attitude. He looked in superb physical shape.
7 - I thought Watson played very poorly. It has to be down to the fact that the Rotherham boo boys were there and he couldn't take it. He looked unbelievably nervous and made a lot of errors. He has to toughen up in my opinion.
8 - Pardew has made yet another good signing in Upson. However, what on earth was Pardew doing bringing him on with 5 minutes to go and then at left back!!! It could have cost us the game. I thought Shorey was playing well and just about dealing with most of Sedgwicks runs. Upson looked out of position and played okay at best for 5 minutes. A strange substitution.
9 - Another enjoyable away day and good to see us playing relatively well. I thought we looked dangerous every time we got the ball in the last 15 minutes or so. Very good away support by circa 800 Royals. One thing that always disappoints me though is the fans attitude to injured players. I know it was Darren Byfield who broke our hearts not so long ago, but the 'Shit on the floor' chant along with the 'fight, fight wherever you may be' are chants out of the late 1970's hooligan era and should be consigned to that era where they belong - Anyone else agree or do the majority actually enjoy singing these? Bring on Wimbledon Keynes. Let's have a good crowd. I'm doing my bit by bringing my 5 year old and so is my mate. Come on you (getting mightier) RRRRRR's!
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