MATCH REPORT: 2004/2005 Season

Reading: Sidwell (90 mins).
Wigan: McCulloch (18 mins), Roberts (21 mins), Ellington (85 mins).
Half Time: 2-0
Attendance: 19,662

Pos Team P Pts GD
6 West Ham 46 73 +10
7 READING 46 70 +7
8 Sheff Utd 46 67 +1
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Hughes, Little (Owusu 72), Harper, Sidwell, Brooker (Ferdinand 57), Kitson, Forster. Subs Not Used: Keown, Newman, Young.
Wigan: Filan, Eaden, Breckin, Jackson, McMillan, Jarrett, Bullard (Teale 82), Kavanagh, McCulloch, Roberts (Mahon 63), Ellington (Wright 89). Subs Not Used: Johansson, Walsh.
Reading: Little.
Wigan: Kavanagh.
Referee: M Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

For the second season in a row Reading finished the season three points outside a play-off place - finishing on seventy points. The season was already effectively over before the final day of the season - but Reading could have still made it with a big win at Wigan. With West Ham winning their final game Reading would have needed to win by a bigger margin, but there was little chance of that with the Royals facing the Division's second best side. Wigan needed the win to seal their promotion to the Premiership and were much the better side to take a deserved 3-1 victory to condemn Reading to another Championship season. The defeat saw Reading finish the season with three straight defeats making it hard to argue that Reading deserved anything other than a mid-table finish.

Wigan were clearly determined to pick up their vital victory right from the start and took a firm grip on the game with Reading under immediate pressure. Reading had struggled to get the ball out of their own half and it was no surprise when the home side worked a neat move to finish from close range after eighteen minutes. The Reading defence were having a difficult afternoon, and Sonko's slip three minutes later allowed Roberts to break free and fire past Hanhemann to make it 0-2. There already seemed no way back for Reading but it might have been different if Forster had made the most of Reading's first chances right at the end of the first half. Forster found himself clean through but failed to connect when he might have volleyed Reading back into the game.

The second half saw Reading get into the game but struggle to ever break down a strong Wigan side. We failed to create any real clear cut chances and resorted to long hoofs down the pitch in contrast to Wigan's precise passing football. Since we weren't using the midfield, or the wings, Coppell opted for a four man attack with his substitutions leaving Ferdinand, Forster, Kitson and Owusu all waiting for hopeful punts up-field. Despite the man power up front Wigan continued to deal with the threat and then polished the game off with five minutes left when a cross from the right was superbly headed home. Wigan at last dropped their guard and were already celebrating when Sidwell bundled home a late consolation for Reading when Kitson cut the ball back. It was a disappointing afternoon - but the disappointment had been brewing for the last few weeks. Congratulations to Wigan, who may have provided Reading with a few pointers for next season if we are to follow in their footsteps.


So ends another season and having had a major rant last week after the Wolves game there's not much to say really. It was no surprise that Reading succumbed meekly to Wigan who thoroughly deserve their moment of glory and promotion. To think we still could have made the play offs with a win today, the performance and manner of defeat reflected our poor we've become in recent months. I think most of us knew in our hearts that we didn't really deserve much more than what we ended up with which is a bit like finishing fourth in an Olympic Final. Seventh is good on paper but bitterly disappointing bearing in mind our position at Christmas. Coppell has said he'll walk next season if we don't get promoted and Madejski says he wants to go up to visit the likes of Maine Road! That just about sums up the running of the club at present. Let's hope for new players next season and all pray that whatever happens West Sham led by Judas Pardwho don't creep through the play offs. If there's any justice Ipswich will go up. For us, we dream on and wait for our moment of glory, just once would be nice.
Nick Newbury

As an infrequent contributor to this site, I have to say that I agree with most of what Ken C has said this season and before. I held off a post after the Wolves match and by the Sunday morning felt a bit calmer! But with the season now over, time for a note.
This has been a frustrating year, never an easier year to get out and up but we didn't. Our Christmas league position I believe flattered us, I never thought we were that good but having got there, if we were serious about promotion, then some players of the right quality in January would surely have helped.
And this brings me to the key issue. Forget views about Coppell or players not trying, I think the club's view is let's do well but not too well i.e. if we flirt with promotion but don't get it, that's about right. The view I think is that Premiership now would be too soon - and better to knock around the top of the Championship than be hammered in the Premiership. OK they come out and say the right things, but, this seems to me the key, we don't really mean it. And football announcements are notoriously misleading, remember the one about Whitehead being the best keeper in the division and Man Utd bought Carroll - how does that work? In time, we might grow the right players, but I don't see a will to buy at the right price i.e. our buys so far have been sub £1m - look at the outlay in key positions at Wigan and Wolves to name our last two opponents - buys in the £1m plus range.
So are we hoping to do it without too much outlay i.e. Coppell strikes lucky maybe a bit like McCarthy did at Sunderland or are we at some point prepared to splash out serious money. For now I think it's the former and in the meantime we make the best of it. The players we've got in the main do their best, they're not world beaters but get real - you get what you pay for. And in terms of other clubs, in the past Wolves have spent a bomb and achieved little and whilst we can look at those that have passed us by such as Pompey, Charlton, Fulham etc., there are many of our past close rivals that have gone the other way - both Bristol clubs, Forest, Stockport etc.
Prepare for more of the same - next season won't get easier, the three that come down plus a resurgent Wolves, Leicester and Leeds makes me think mid table at best.
Some final thoughts (a) if we weren’t quite good enough last season why did we think without much in addition to the squad for the whole season not just from March, we’d do better this season (b) if Convey wasn’t ready why not put him out on loan for first team experience (c) second half vs Wigan summed up the second half of the season, verging on the inept, when the game was there for the taking we couldn’t score and created little (d) we lack midfield creativity, some magic and have done so for far too long.
Nick Tilehurst

Congratulations to Wigan on a remarkable achievement.Today we witnessed again yet another lack lustre performance throughout the squad. In fact it was not so much of an excellent Wigan performance but more that the game was handed to the oposition "on a plate". In the first thirty minutes we did not even have an attempt on goal and the general attitude from the players was appauling. Our season was virtually over some two months ago when Management actions were taken without due consideration and skill and demonstrated the real weakness of our clubs plight at the present time.
When pace, youth and skill were desperately required for injection into the squad our Manager supported by our Chairman decided to purchase players past their "sell by date" and this immediately in my view affected the team and its performances and at a considerable cost to the club in all respects.
In my opinion Steve Coppell is also a "spent force" and will not lead the Royals to future success in this Division or at a highter level and I say this having witnessed his quite unacceptable comments both pre and post matches and his clear inability to motivate players and supporters alike.
Rather depressingly our Chairman has decided to give him another contract presumably based upon what is considered a "successful season", but the true Royal fans knew and expected so much more from the start of the season. I believe that we do have talented players but they have been mismanaged and mistrained. If you closely observe the game today, you will have noticed that we have lost entirely our shape of play and our ability to pass the ball let alone pace up front. All these factors are crucial to any successful team and I remain very depressed at the prospect of "more of the same" which will be the case unless bold changes are made at management and training levels. Remember we achieved much success which was building well before decisions were made as to additional signings which were considered in the opinion of the Manager necessary for our "play off push". Therefore any new considered signings will now prove critical for the future of our club.
Notwithstanding the above I remain a loyal supporter of more years standing than I would like to own up to!
Have a good summer.
Terry, Isle of Wight

By my reckoning "more of the same" would be a result. If my calculations are correct our 2005 form would place us 2 points above the relegation zone. In my opinion the current team has achieved as much as can be expected of them. With the exception of Shorey and Kitson, the rest are at an age or sufficient appearances that we can conclude that they are not going to get any better. Unless the academy can inject some star quality how do we improve? It is unrealistic to expect Mr Madjeski to keep putting his hand in his pocket. I really hope that I am wrong but I am not optimistic and certainly do not feel inspired by Mr Coppell.
Chris Tubb (Swansea Royal)

At the end of the day, we were exposed to be an average run of the mill Championship team, and it was just as well we had accrued some many points before xmas as otherwise we could have been fighting a relegation battle. The team lacks any invention, ideas or skill and the lack of goals scored with virtually no contribution from the midfield has been a worrying trend for some time. I despair of Coppell and his negative quotes pre match and post match to the media. If this makes the fans depressed, how must the players feel? A major rethink is needed during the close season and we need to get rid of the dead wood and non performing out of contract players. This was probably one of the best opportunities the club had had to secure promotion to the Premiership but a combination of bad signings, poor management, poor direction at Board level, and general player incompetence has led to another ‘so near and yet so far’ season. Should we have given youth a chance? What was the wisdom in signing Ferdinand, Keown, Convey? The fans need to see a bit of ambition in the summer but with a much stronger looking league next season, don’t be surprised to hear the ‘Coppell out’ cries if performances are not improved vastly.
Mike, Tilehurst

Another hugely disappointing Reading performance brings to end another ultimately disappointing season, which at Christmas promised so much. Reading were second best in every department against a stronger, quicker and more determined Wigan side, who demonstrated just how far our current side is from being promotion material. At times Reading struggled to do even the basics such as staying on their feet (Sonko in particular) and keeping possession for even short spells. Even when Coppell brought on Ferdinand and Owusu Reading were unable to put Wigan under any genuine pressure, and the manager has conceded that the game was finished by half time.
In terms of an end of season post mortem, the team's successes and failures are clear simply from the league table. On the plus side a decent home record and a good defence, weighed against that a poor away record coupled with a lack of goals scored. Identifying these problems is easy, rectifying them could prove difficult and possibly beyond the club given it's current set up.
Over the hill high earners such as Keown, Ferdinand and Goater are all expected to leave, while players such as Morgan, Owusu, Brooker and Savage are simply not good enough for any side with promotion aspirations. Given the almost total lack of goals from midfield this season and their own inconsistent form, Harper and Little will both be lucky to be at the club next year. But as Coppell himself as identified, very few if any clubs will want to take these players off our hands. Arguably our only saleable asset is Sidwell, who in my opinion we need to base next season's side around rather than sell.
Most fans seem agreed on where the side needs to be strengthened; another centre half, a dynamic central midfielder to partner Sidwell, one or possibly two (unless Convey dramatically improves) quality wide players, and a genuine goal scorer to complement Kitson. Identifying and buying these players is going to be very difficult. The only player I can immediately think of who is definitely available and ideally suited is Rohan Ricketts, and Wolves must be favourites to land him now Hoddle is set to stay. It doesn't appear as though we will be making any big money buys given the chairman's views on financing the club and the complete failure of the likes of Convey, Murray and Goater, so we must look for young, hungry up and coming players from the lower leagues, or some quality premiership loan signings. Buying new players is a hit and miss affair, even for the world's top clubs, so if the side is to be radically altered improved results will not come overnight.
Michael Simmonds

This was yet another fairly inept performance as Reading were comfortably beaten by a much superior side. My view on the down-turn in fortunes & performance since Christmas that led to us missing out yet again is that much of the blame is with the hierarchy of the club. Wigan proved on Sun what a bit of ambition & investment in decent signings can do for a team with Premiership ambitions. The 'powers that be' at Reading continue to try to do things on the cheap, & the inevitable result was there to see. Sky Sports summed it up for me when they described Wigan's chairman as someone who had a vision for his club to reach the highest level & was determined to all he could to achieve it. For all the good the man had done for RFC, the same just CANNOT be said of our chairman at present. Another way the hierarchy have had a negative influence this season is with the continued stance on contracts. But even with their wanting to stick to their guns with Williams & Forster, their inconsistency by giving Shorey & Kitson extensions on their contracts whilst refusing to discuss anything with the other two, plus the club's attitudes over Goater (& possibly Convey) with the whole 'money for certain amounts of games played' business has done nothing but create a negative & uneasy atmosphere & do much I'm sure to affect players attitudes & motivation at a time when they team really needed to be positive & pull together. Yes there have been poor performances this season & since Christmas the team's form hasn't been anywhere near good enough overall to justify a play-off spot, but I reckon the poor way the club has been run at times is at the heart of RFC's failure this season. Those in positions of authority ought to take a long hard look at themselves & how they conduct things in the close season & summer & really give some proper support & backing to the manager & the team instead of creating such a difficult environment for both to function properly. I hope to God Wigan's Chairman shared some of his vision with ours on Sunday. At least that could be a starting point.......
Caversham Royal

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