10 March 1999
Stoke 0 Reading 4 (FOUR!)
Howie, Gray, Bernal, Primus, Murty, Parkinson, Caskey, Houghton, Gurney(Glasgow),
YES! You RRRRRrrrr's!
Well I guess much improved from Saturday is a bit of an exageration! Stoke City may well be a team well out of form and failed to put up any resistance in the second half, but four goals in the second half away from home is four goals in the second half away from home! Fantastic. Reading were simply stunning at Stoke tonight.
Reading had most of the play in the first half but in the second half were a class apart from Stoke City. McKeever was simply blinding with space, skill, pure determination, and the ability both to score and set up his striking partner. McIntyre, whose been under so much pressure recently, went a fair way to shutting up his critics with two goals to send the Royals on their way.
Reading took the lead about 10 minutes into the second half after a mistake from the Stoke defence, McKeever cut inside and stuck it home into the corner with his left foot. About 10 minutes later it was 2-0. Houghton played it to McKeever who ran wide and crossed to McIntyre to head home. And if that wasn't enough McKeever then set up the third. McKeever played it to McIntyre, who, with the keeper coming out off his line, rounded the keeper to roll it into the net. But there was still more to come from loanee McKeever making his debut for Reading. Gray made a storming run forward and McKeever duely delivered into his path. Gray stuck it home. 4-0 to the R's. YES. Let's hope we reproduce this kind of performance at Bournemouth this Saturday. Brilliant.
Here's a full report from Alex:
Well, what a game. Eventually, it turned out to be a four goal stomper, the Royals out-sung the Potters all day, and I forgot all about my dissertation for a few hours. I spent much of the second half in a daze, and didn't realise when a couple of substitutions were made, so excuse inaccuracy...
Reading's line-up (I think - the parking system is so bad, we got there as the ref blew the whistle):
Howie; Murty (McPherson), Primus, Bernal, Grey; Gurney (Glasgow), Caskey, Parkinson, Houghton, McKeever; McIntyre (Brayson?)
This was the first game I'd seen since Notts County, and at first we didn't seem much changed. My first impression was amazement that Gurney was playing right wing, whilst Murty was playing right back. It was clear that Murty was willing to run at people (something sadly lacking in many of the team), whilst Gurney (although willing), just couldn't take people on. Murty, meanwhile, showed he's not a defender and gave Stoke too much space down the wing several times. Reading's hearts were in their mouths early on, thanks to a move that was to set for pattern for the first half.
Reading's defence were giving just far too much room to the Stoke forwards, who were having no trouble dropping back a yard and receiving the ball, to dangerous cost. On one suce occassion, the ball was poked forward to Stoke's David Oldfield, whilst the Reading defence froze expecting an offside flag. Play continued, however, and Howie had to charge to the edge of the box to cover. Despite throwing himself at the ball, the Reading fans were relieved when the Potter's well-struck shot hit the post by just an inch and flew out.
There was little pattern to the game, and neither team could build a well-worked move or consolodate some possession. For long periods the ball was bouncing around, with no one able to bring it down and get a grip on the game. Philip Parkinson was several times the Reading hero, winning battle after battle in midfield to regain possession for the Rrrs. Going forward, McKeever looked sharp and fast. He was always looking for the quick ball, and seemed to have struck a good initial understanding with Caskey, Reading's other main threat. He looked dangerous, but without support his useful crosses into the box were wasted. As the half went on, Murtty found himself more contained, and could do little damage going forwards. Reading were their usual frustrating selves, refusing to shoot even when inside the box, until they could see a certain goal. The best chance of the period fell to Stoke, who had improved over the half. Reading's defence was giving them far too much space, and at one point Stuart Grey was humiliatingly dumped on his arse by a nice turn. Stoke were getting a lot of space down their left wing in particular, as Murty struggled to adapt to right back.
It was from one of these moves that Kyle Lightbourne should have scored. He was put through on goal, the defence wavered and he was able to run through on Howie unchecked. He sidestepped the Reading goalie and shot for goal from an accute angle. The moment was aved by Andy Bernal, though, who dived in and cleared off the line, saving Reading's blushes. Stoke also claimed a penalty before the half finished, but instead the Stoke player was adjudged to have fouled Parkinson (and rightly so, IMO).
Tommy Burns made a change at half time, replacing the hard working but ineffectual Gurney with Byron Glasgow. Glasgow slotted into right back and Murty moved forward into the winger's slot, a position that he took with relish. Almost immediately, Reading looked like they had more shape and danger, giving Caskey a second option. The ploy worked when Murty sprang out on the break, Murty charged down the wing, saw McKeever wide left with just one defender to beat, and slotted the ball into his run. McKeever, took the ball, slipped passed the defender and cooly slotted under the keeper for his first goal in the 60th minute. Stoke were rocked by this, but kept fighting on. Little made a triple substitution in his desperation, including Swindon reject Peter Thorne, but to no avail. They did come close to levelling, though, when they hit the post. The game was killed in the 76th minute, however, by a clinical goal from Reading. McKeever had again found plenty of room down the left wing, and his chipped cross from the edge of the box found McIntyre a few feet out in acres of space, with the simplest of nods to score. Ecstasy from the travelling Royals.
They were to reach even greater heights soon though. Stoke's defence, or what remained of it, crumbled now, and all thoughts turned to damage limitation. Reading had them on the run, however, and sliced them open several times. A perfectly weighted ball by McKeever (?) somehow beat the offside trap and released one-on-one with the keeper. He stumbled, possibly in surprise at there being no whistle, and this appeared to wrong-foot Ward.
Jimmy Mac had no trouble rounding him and knocking the ball home from 18 yards, to put Reading three up. Caskey should have scored a fourth, when he took the ball on the edge of the box, but kept taking a nother step looking for space, instead of belting it home. The cake was iced with just a few minutes left to play by, of all people, Stuart Gray. He found himself behind the defence by another ball that beat the off-side and was able to score under the keeper to seal the win. Unfortunately, Ferret started talking to me, so I missed the build-up.
Incredibly, Reading could have had more, if they had really gone for it. However, let's not get greedy, this was exactly the result we needed. McKeever looks a real find, if he can keep this form. The team has good balance in 4-4-2 with McKeever on the left so long as Murty plays on the right. He's totally wasted at full back. We shouldn't kid ourselves, though. For the first sixty minutes, both teams were pretty dire. There was seriously inept defending from both teams at times, and both sets of forwards were equally guilty of missing good chances. Although we won 4-0, the result was possibly a little flattering, and there's till much to learn from the game. Definately a stride in the right direction though. I think most of it's there. Even Jimmy Mac could be a good striker if he gets the support he needs The midfield were too slow at getting forward tonight, which is bad in a team playing only one striker - maybe that will improve when Brebner returns. We have speed and talent on both wings, steel and skill in midfield, and a good mix of competant and strong defenders. Howie looks much more confidant than when I last saw him. I think the key could really be morale - if we can string together a good run of results, at this late stage to the season, the confidance gained could well boost us into the play-offs. And once there, who knows?.....
And another report from Chris Painter: (enjoying possibly the best 17th birthday at the Brittania...)
Reading's 500 away fans went home happy after an entertaining game and a good performance from the Royals - but the scoreline doesn't give a fair reflection of what was a action packed game. Both sides had a bright opening, and 0-0 half time seemed suprising. It was very even first half. Action started as soon as the 8th minute. Passing moves from Stoke left Reading watching and as the cross came in, Stoke's David Oldfield skied his shot from 7 yards when it seemed easier to score.
Reading's first major attack came in the 15th minute. The Stoke defence caught napping and McKeever gave us a first glipse of his skill, crossing to McIntyre who put his header just over. Howie was again in top form with two outstanding saves in the game, both at full stretch. Stoke were pushing forward though, and Skippy came to the rescue again with a goal-line clearance.
Reading had another two attackes in the first half, one resulting in Houghton having a 20 yards shot curve just wide of the far right stanchion. At half time, we were sitting there thinking that it may be possible to get a point out of the game. Reading subbed Gurney, and put Glasgow on as a straight swap.
It wasn't long after that Reading got their first. McKeever used determination and pace to beat a defender and shot in wide of the keeper after a good counter attack.
With the home side a goal behind Stoke made a triple substitution to go on all out attack.
The second goal on 75 minutes was again supplied by McKeever. Starting on the left wing he beat 2 defenders and ran to the byline before delivering a lovely floated cross, which Jimmy McIntyre met with an easy header to the left of the keeper. Goal number three on 81 minutes came when we caught the defence napping, McIntyre got into a 1 on 1 and rounded the keeper and sidefooted into the net.
City's fans had started leaving after the second goal but by the time we got our fourth half the Stoke fans had left. Stoke's shakey defence stood still, looking at the linesman for offside. Even Stuary Gray looked round, but he carried on to take on the keeper, and nutmegged him from about 15 yards. It was not a good game for Gavin Ward who has now let in 7 goals in 2 games.
Although Reading were good they weren't brilliant - it was more of a case of how Stoke were so poor. Another day we may not have won, but it's three points gained and we now have realistic hopes of making the play-offs.