READING 3 BRISTOL CITY 2 (Half Time: 2-1)
Mackie (12 mins), Lever (OG, 44 mins), Salako (51 mins)
Bristol City Scorers: Amankwaah (34 mins), Thorpe (59 mins).
10 November 2001
Reading: Whitehead, Murty, Viveash, Mackie, Shorey, Hughes (Igoe 71), Watson, N.Smith, Salako, Forster (Jones 84), Cureton (Henderson 84). Subs not used: Ashdown, A.Smith.
Bristol City: Stowell, Carey, Lever (Coles 63), Hill, Amankwaah
(Goodridge 62), Doherty, Tinnion (Matthews 79), A.Brown, Bell, Thorpe,
Peacock. Subs not used: Phillips, Burnell.
Reading are once again looking like strong candidates for promotion after this hard earned but deserved victory against a strong Bristol City side. It was fitting that the game was decided by Salako's superb strike, as all the other goals were the outcome of glaring defensive errors.
City were only a point behind the Royals before this game and must have felt confident about their chances today. They started cautiously operating with a five man midfield but found themselves a goal down after only twelve minutes. Salako noticed Mackie making a late run into the box and flighted his corner perfectly into in path. The centre back powered his header goalwards and somehow it squirmed past the keeper into the net. Reading had looked sharp from the start and the midfield had a very competitive edge with Watson and Neil Smith allowing very little to come through the middle. The whole team was closing down City players and making them hurry their passes. Cureton even won a ball in the air in the first minute! Following the pattern of recent games Reading produced several slick and incisive passing moves. Not everything was coming off but Reading were spotting the passing options and hitting them early and consequently always looked like they might break through.
City were also showing that they were capable playing some good stuff, and a very exciting game began to unfold. Thorpe blazed a couple of half chances over the bar before Reading provided them with the opportunity to equalise when Hughes and Murty collided allowing Bell to run free to cross for Amakwaah to finish. The pace of the game then slowed towards half time until Smith rattled the bar with a header from Forster's cross on forty minutes and then the Royals received an unexpected gift a minute before the interval when Lever headed past his own keeper from a Smith long throw. City then had the chance to equalise but Whitehead was quickly off his line to smother the ball when Thorpe broke free in front of goal.
The second half had me on the edge of my seat throughout. A great move allowed Hughes to drive in a low cross which eluded everyone except Salako at he far post who cracked the ball in from the tightest of angles. He clearly enjoyed the moment as much as the Royals fans. It was magnificent goal, but City were certainly not prepared to roll over and eight minutes later had reduced the deficit to one goal. Whitehead made a uncharacteristic error when he failed to come for a cross. His hesitation wrong-footed everyone except Thorpe who nipped in to glance the ball into the corner of the net. A well taken goal but it should have been prevented. Whitehead redeemed himself later with a fine save and by cutting out some very dangerous crosses that were being fired in from the City left.
City pressed forward looking for an equaliser and looked threatening. Murty in particular looked a bit exposed at times. Hughes went off and Igoe came on and appeared unable to adjust to the pace of the game. Pardew decided to kill the game off in the last ten minutes by taking off Forster and Cureton leaving only Henderson up front and adding Jones as the fifth man in midfield. It worked, although the closing stages were far from comfortable.
It was a performance that got the crowd going and gives a clear message that
we are contenders for promotion. I get the feeling that Kevin Dillon is making
his mark on this team. It is not just the results that are improving, the passing
is looking much sharper throughout the squad. Again I was impressed with Watson
and even more impressed with Salako. He was as fired up as anyone I've seen
in a Reading shirt this season especially after his goal. If we could keep him
for the rest of the season he could make the difference between going up or
staying down. Many people have said Reading are not good enough for automatic
promotion this season, but who else is? Stoke look strong, but I'm not sure
that Brighton or Brentford are able to sustain their challenge all season any
better that Reading. I just get the feeling it's going to be very close at the
end of the season.
Report by John Wells.
Now we have discovered how to play at home. Play how you do when you are away
This was a terrific match. I thought that Bristol City were a very good side coming forward with the ball. We, crucially, had certain things going for us. Firstly, we played as a unit. Secondly, we scored at the right times. Thirdly, we had the breaks which we haven't had in recent weeks. The starting eleven was a bit of a surprise. Williams failed a fitness test, Harper out so Smith had a rare start. I thought the combination of Smith and Watson worked well and gave the midfield a good balance. Mackie also did well adding some pace to the central pairing. It is a credit to the squad that people can come in and perform at the right level.
The first goal was always going to be important. Whilst Mackie's header was reasonable, I think the keeper would have expected to have saved it. Whether Hughes got a touch or not we did not really care. We were one up and had scored. Bristol continued to pass the ball well, although there was some fortune in their equaliser. Hughes and Murty both went for the same ball, collided, and left the winger with a good opportunity to cross which he did. I think by now we knew we were in for something special. Would our nerves get the better of us? Would we sit back as we have tended to do?
Just before halftime fortune smiled on us. Smith sent another long throw into the box and the ball was in the back of the net. Viveash put in the challenge, but it came off a Bristol head. A goal from a corner and a long throw in one match! Absolutely amazing given our aerial power and our previous record. We went in at 2 -1. It had been a good half, and thoroughly entertaining.
The third goal was the pick of the bunch. Forster had previously worked a good position down the right only to see his cross go too near to the keeper. Now it was Hughe's turn to be fed by another good ball from Murty. His cross found Salako coming in at a difficult angle and he slid the ball into the net. Terrific stuff.
To their credit Bristol kept playing their football. Bell was finding too much space down their right as he made himself the extra man. We kept working hard but had to concede the majority of possession to them. Thorpe eventually got their second. In truth had he been on the top of his game he would have scored more today. It was then a case of whether we would hold out or not. That we did was down to a world class save from Whitehead who flung himself across the goal to keep out what looked a certain equaliser. So what did we learn today? We saw some good passing and work rate. With Forster and Cureton up front we have to work hard as they are not going to hold the ball up. Their natural game is to turn and run at the opposition.
That makes it harder for the midfield. I thought that they all worked hard today. Cureton appears to be a better all round player now. He does chase more to put defenders under pressure. The midfield worked hard. Watson and Smith were a good combination. It seems a shame that we won't be able to keep him. As regards Salako, he is one who we should definitely try to keep.
We have continually had a problem at left side of midfield. Smith and Rougier both have qualities, but Salako is quality. His contributions to the last three games have been outstanding. Whilst we did not see so much of his silky skills today, we did see work rate and commitment and a good goal. He will also hold the ball and must be good for young Shorey. That brings us to the full backs. Outstanding. They have been brilliant in the last few games. Whilst Murty's distribution wasn't his best at the start of the game he stuck to it and worked his way into it. Both he and Shorey look to use the ball well and this encourages other members of the team to do that as well. This is where Watson has been important. He plays the simple ball well and he keeps it on the ground where football should be played, especially with the size of our team!
Finally a word for Bristol City. If I were a fan of theirs, I would have come
away thinking that we deserved at least a point. They moved the ball well, and
their passing was, if anything, better than ours. Football is about taking your
chances and today we did that. The three points were ours today. Bristol will
be there at the end of the season, and so should we be. Salako might be the
key. I hope you are listening Mr. Chairman!
Report by Ken Chennells.
Post Match Opinions
At last, a match that was both exciting, and enjoyable. Thank God
I don't have to take up playing golf on Saturdays after all. I am a little
worried though, as the last time we all got positive on this site, the
team went into free-fall. Let us make sure we don't get a repeat of that.
Today we played good passing football against a good, well organised Danny
Wilson team. We certainly matched them, and probably deserved our win.
My only problem tonight is that being in exile, only 12 miles from Brighton,
I will have to put up with more cooing over Bobby bloody Zamora in the
pub, as Brighton have gone top. Bring on the mighty Welling.
This was the most exciting game of the season so far, played at a
pulsating pace between two strong sides! And Reading finally got the better
of Bristol City, ending a run of dismal results against them. City looked
as dangerous as ever - a far more accomplished side than Brentford, for
example. They played good football and always looked capable of scoring,
but Reading too played some attractive stuff and in the end I think our
sheer work rate (and a bit of luck) made the difference. The improvement
in the last couple of weeks seems to arise from finding some balance in
the team - Salako has added quality and Watson control to a midfield that
is imposing itself more and more in games. A special word today must go
to John Mackie. The young lad gave a terrific performance at centre back
and capped it with a goal (or an assist?). Following a difficult period
things are starting to click - well done Alan and keep it up lads! Here's
how I rated the team:
OK. Hands up, I have written some pretty negative & damning reports
on the season so far.
Make no mistake - this was a massive result for us. Over the last
two seasons Bristol City have comprehensively beaten us four times; add
to that our tendency to crash in big home games, and I think I could be
excused for saying after the Brentford defeat (only two weeks ago) that
you could bet your house that we'd lose to City. Then consider just how
utterly awful we were in the Swindon game - shapeless, toothless, purposeless.
A place in the playoffs seemed hardly likely then. So our recent revival
has been remarkable - we've scored seven in our last three games, and
are playing with belief and determination. The scoreline flattered City,
if anything. Well done to Pards, who's borne all the criticism with fortitude,
to Kevin Dillon, who seems to be having a positive influence (not a surprise,
in my view), and to the players. There's a long way to go, we could still
get a lot better, but we have a team again. Halleluia!
Pardew out! Well not for a while anyhow .
Entertainment! That's the word. For once a match you didn't want to
take your eyes off with both sides committed to attack. The last ten minutes
were riveting (how could people leave before the end?) with a final score
of 3-3 or 4-2 equally likely. The midfield were more dominant than in
the past forcing City to pass continually outside the danger area trying
to find a way through - a coincidence that Harper wasn't even on the bench?
Super save from Whitehead, unlucky hit against the cross bar from Smith
evened out the numerous near misses. Those top three still look a long
way off but if we can keep this up we may just catch them.
Yesterday the team was fantastic in all departments. Neil Smith once
again proved himself to be an excellent midfielder, who still offers plenty
to the club. Viveash ( why was he ever dropped? ) and Mackie were solid
at the back and the latter player, I feel, has been under rated. Once
again Shorey gave a good account of himself and has a lot of potential,
Murty was excellent and I think he's been Reading's most consistent player
throughout the season. Salako has added that extra bit of flair to our
midfield and a few more like him would see us get out of this division.
Forster ran his socks off (and added real pace up front, playing more
responsibly by bringing in other team members) and Cureton had an added
spark going to win balls he normally wouldn't bother with.
That is what football is all about. I left the ground with a croaky
voice and a sense of fulfilment. Football is entertainment for the crowd
and I thought that Reading had forgotten that a few weeks ago. After yesterdays
great 3-2 win over a strong Bristol City side, I know that there is not
a fan out there that did not get value for money. Every player worked
hard and it was great to see them chasing after everything. What a difference
This was an excellent, hard fought victory against a very good and
determined Bristol side. Reading proved they can pass the ball around
without a big target man and it was pleasing to see Mackie and Neil Smith
play so competently. Wasn't it nice not to see the ball pumped aimlessly
in the air from the back to Cureton and Forster - no coincidence that
Williams wasn't playing!
Vast improvement. This was a key home fixture. Not a bunch of North
Wales no-hopers who we struggled against mid-week. We can expect Bristol
City to be one of the major contenders for the division this year. Suddenly
we've got a midfield again, Harper did not play, and we win! I rest my
I couldn't go yesterday because of other comittments, perhaps I should
stay away as the reports above more than hint that this poor twat missed
a corker. On another note, there is speculation in the press that Allen
is still employed by the club, as some directors want him to stay. John
Madjeski, can you hear us, get back in the country, pay Allen his wages,
and tell him to clear off!
Great game, and lots of noise from the East Stand. Credit to Bristol
City for playing some nice football, and both teams for providing excellent
entertainment. I asked my Wife who she thought was man of the match on
the way home, Salako!... hard to disagree with that especially after a
class finish... tremendous stuff. My stand-out player, however, had to
be Neil Smith. I thought that Smith (along with Watson) worked his socks
off in midfield from beginning to end, and gave us some much needed steel
and resolve, sound decision from Pards to drop Harper. I understand those
people that rate him, and yes he is young, but on too many occasions we
have been overrun in midfield and against a team like Bristol City that
was the last thing we could afford to happen! Very happy this week-end...
what will happen if or when Watson/Salako leave?
What a cracking game. Nothing to add really except to say that I had
a close up view of Salako's goal, and it was superb, the best I've seen
for a long time. Salako's work-rate was fantastic, and effective, and
he was still running round the pitch after the final whistle, lapping
up the applause. Have I heard his age right should it be 23, not 32? He
is the fittest player I have ever seen at Madejski. I too thought that
Mackie was excellent. His style is quite different from the other central
defenders, and it's a distinct change for a ball to be cleared out along
the ground. Whitehead seemed to have learnt from the Brentford game, and
threw the ball out to the wings at least as many times as he hoofed it
into City half. Like Adrian I went on my own for the first time for months.
It seemed to be a match which could not be missed, even if most of my
family thought otherwise.I am extremely glad I did, even though my lunchtime
refreshment spot, the Hope Tap, was surrounded by 200 coppers and packed
out with strange loud characters with worzel accents. URZZZZZ!
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