(HT: 3-0)
Reading Scorers: Butler, Igoe, Igoe, Hodges, McIntyre
Oldham Scorers: -
Date: 12 September 2000
Attendance: 7,768

Reading: Whitehead (Ashdown), Gurney, Viveash, Hunter, Newman, Parkinson (Smith), Caskey, Hodges, Butler (McIntyre), Cureton, Igoe.
Subs not used: Makie, Haddow.

Oldham: Kelly, McNiven, Holt, Duxbury, Rickers, Allott, Boshell, Corazzin, Hotte, Adams, Jones.
Subs: Miskelly, Tipton, Innes, Dudley, Prenderville.


After Saturday's 4-0 stuffing of Brentford at the Madejski Stadium I thought we couldn't even get close to a result that good the following Tuesday against Oldham Athletic. How wrong I was! Reading were superb - putting out a demonstration of how attacking football should be played. We could have won by even more. At the final whistle, after Reading had completely embarrassing the opposition, Jamie Cureton knelt with his head in his hands after he could have easily stuck home a second half hat-trick. But he has nothing to be depressed about - he more than played his part in another fantastic all round team performance.

With Caskey fit, despite worries earlier in the day, Pardew was able to field the same side that saw of Brentford in so much style just a few days earlier. But they didn't play like they did against Brentford - they were far better. Reading started as they meant to go on with two goals in the opening five minutes. After going 2-0 up we might have been a bit guilty of sitting back as Oldham created plenty of chances and were unlucky not to pull a goal back. But just before half time we made it 3-0 and then there was no looking back. The second half saw the best attacking performance ever seen at the Madejski Stadium. We may have only (only!) added two more in the second half but we created chance after chance after chance - it could have easily been more.

I'd better go through the goals before I forget them all!
Reading got off to the best start possible after just a couple of minutes. Igoe went down the right, passed it back to Newman who whipped over a cross to the left side of the box. Hodges got to it slammed it back across inside the box and Butler slid it home from the right to the right of the keeper. 1-0 to the Royals. We'd hardly sat down, when about a minute later Igoe collected the ball just outside the area on the right. Seeing the keeper way over his line Igoe let rip and the ball flew into the same corner of the net with the keeper helpless. 2-0 to the Royals!

Now us Reading fans aren't used to seeing Reading stick in so many goals at the Madejski Stadium. After witnessing four on Saturday there was a serious danger of goal overdose - some serious shock. Reading, being the considerated side they are started to back a bit and let Oldham try and get back into the game. To the away sides credit, after recovering from such a nightmare start, they came right back after us. Gurney was getting beaten time and time again as Oldham's Adams whipped in crosses from the right and Oldham supplemented that with plenty of balls through the middle as they got close to pulling a goal back. Whitehead pulled off a decent save from a header inside the box to tip it over for a corner. Oldham also did manage to break the offside trap, and if their forward had connected with a ball over the top they could have grabbed one. Down the other end the closest we came to making it free was a sneaky Caskey free kick from the left diagonal of the box that the keeper saved by getting down quickly to his right.

Then with just a few minutes of the half remaining Reading took control of the game back. Oldham's possession ended - and there was to be only one team doing the attacking for the rest of the match. Just before the break Hodges played a great ball down the left wing. Martin Butler collected the ball and took it nicely goal side round his marker. From there it could only be one outcome. Cureton was waiting in the middle and Butler played it low across the face of the goal. Cureton shot, the defender blocked it on the line with the goalkeeper misplaced, and it came back out in front of goal. Igoe, racing in, made no mistake and drove it home for his second of the game. 3-0 at half time and it was effectively all over.

The second half was all Reading. Oldham didn't get a look in and it was just a question of how many we'd manage to stick in. McIntyre came on for Butler up front, and Oldham in an act of desperation swapped their goalkeeper. If they'd left their first keeper on we might have managed a few more, as the new keeper made a whole series of good saves as Reading flooded forward. But a few minutes after half-time, and we added another. The ball came out to Lee Hodges, outside the box, and he drove it home over a crowd of players right into the corner - the keeper wasn't even close. Probably the best goal so far, and we'd equaled the Brentford score with almost an entire half left! 4-0 to the Royals, and the atmosphere in the East Stand really picked up. The rest of the second half must have been pure misery for the 100 or so travelling Oldham fans.

Down the right Igoe was causing problems the whole time for Oldham, and it didn't help them when Cureton joined the right side to turn supplier for plenty of attacks. Add to that a decent supply down the left too from Hodges, and some balls worked nicely down the centre of the park both in the air and on the floor, and Oldham just couldn't cope with a fast and varied Reading attack that laid siege to their goal.

Cureton almost made it five after heading on target from a cross - the keeper did well to tip it over. Moments later he looked certain to score after the ball was played through a gap in the defence leaving him with a one-on-one with the keeper. The keeper came out and Cureton's shot was saved for a corner. Cureton desperate for a goal got a little greedy the once - and it should have been another goal. Once again he broke into the area, and the keeper came out. McIntyre was spare in the middle and a simple cross would have meant a certain goal but Cureton attempted to drive it home - again it came off the keeper. Meanwhile, Smith came on for Parkinson who had had a good game, and could have scored a couple after getting onto the end of balls played into the box. He had a couple of headers - one needing another decent save from the keeper. McIntyre was quiet to start with but could have grabbed a goal before he eventually did with ten minutes left - Cureton broke down the right, beat his man, and made up for the bit of greed earlier (which was excusable anyway in his hunt for a goal) with a simple low ball to McIntyre. McIntyre didn't control it straight away but eventually got the ball from under his feet to drive it in from quite close distance. 5-0, and Reading on fire.

Towards the end Oldham went on the hunt for a late consolation but Ashdown, making his first team debut after been given a chance replacing Whitehead in goal with the game won, was equal to everything. In just a short time on the pitch Ashdown made a couple of decent stops - included holding a cross well, he also prevented a goal by coming quickly off his line to force the shot wide. His kicks may have gone into orbit each time, but he looked a decent keeper. The real story of the night though was up front. Reading won by five goals to go fourth in the table - but it could have been more. And Oldham were a better side than Brentford. Igoe was superb again with his ball control, runs, and brilliant passing of the ball - and thats not to mention two goals too. Butler and Cureton look to have a fantastic partnership, and McIntyre and Cureton looked good together too. We're no longer scared to try and score lots and lots of goals - and that will give us promotion at the end of the season.


Following report from guest reporter, Neil Cole:

This was another fantastic home win for the Royals, as we moved up to fourth in the league with a third successive victory. There was only one goal more than we had scored against Brentford on Saturday, but the performance was easily Reading’s best since the happy days of 93-95.

The attendance was understandably low, with only about 50 Oldham fans sparing the petrol for a long trip down south. Yet the East Stand was packed yet again, and the atmosphere was the one of the best that has been experienced in the Madejski. This was due in part to the amazing result the previous game, with people turning up hoping for a repetition of the 4-0 trouncing of Brentford. Yet it is also a reflection on the optimism and high spirits that have spread amongst Royals fans since Alan Pardew began his reign as Reading boss.

Oldham looked a very poor side that will struggle at the foot of the table once again this season. Yet where Reading have struggled in the past against the weaker sides in the league, today it was a thrashing from start to finish. The passing was slick, the attacks came thick and fast, and Reading’s midfield and strike force looked capable of scoring every time we had possession. The defence is still not our strongest, yet a third clean sheet in a row shows that they are more than capable and getting better with every game.

While Saturday had been the Jamie Cureton show, this game showed that we do not have to rely on our strikers to bag the goals this season. All eyes were on Cureton and Butler to repeat their match winning partnership from four days earlier, but today they were overshadowed by Sammy Igoe and Lee Hodges. The two midfielders started the season as fringe players, with neither expected to feature in Alan Pardew’s first eleven. Yet both have seized their chances, and today they showed why they are now an integral part of our championship drive this season.

Igoe was exceptional against Port Vale and the pick of a poor bunch against Orient, while Hodges has looked increasingly better with every game. Today they were both inspirational, and managed to cap their displays with three goals between them.

It was Martin Butler who started the rout after just two minutes, as the ball dropped to him in the area and he fired in from close range. It was a dream start for Reading, as it appeared the team were picking up where they had left on Saturday. It got better two minutes later, as Sammy Igoe tried his luck with a beautiful shot from just outside the area which passed the keeper and ended up in the far corner of the net. Reading were 2-0 up with less than five minutes of the game gone, and with Oldham absolutely shell-shocked we were all expecting more.

Reading then seemed to ease off the pressure, perhaps surprised themselves by the pace with which they had started the match. Oldham came more into the game, and approaching half-time they had actually had more chances to score than the Royals. A couple of glaring misses combined with Barry Hunter’s best game of the season kept the Latics out though, and Reading made sure of the game two minutes before the break. A swift move gave the Royals four players against Oldham’s three, and as the keeper saved Cureton’s effort Igoe was there to knock in the rebound and score his second of the night.

For the second game running we were 3-0 up at half-time, and the delight all round the Madejski was apparent, apart from 50 or so very miserable looking Latics fans. It got even better shortly after the re-start, as Lee Hodges ensured Reading at least matched the Brentford result. As the ball fell to him, Hodges chested it down, teed it up for himself, and fired home an early candidate for goal of the season from just outside the area. It is rare to see the Reading midfield even attempting long range shots, and it is an even rarer delight to see them go in. It was 4-0 and there was still over forty minutes to play.

The half-time break had seen the introduction of Jimmy McIntyre for Martin Butler, with Pardew presumably giving the Scot his chance to make a mark against a dreadful Oldham defence. He did that half-way through the second half by scoring Reading’s fifth and final goal of the night. Some more great work by Sammy Igoe down the right and a dangerous cross gave McIntyre his opportunity, and he was able to beat the Oldham keeper at the second attempt and make the score 5-0.

Alan Pardew continued his policy of giving the youth players a chance in the first team, as young keeper Jamie Ashdown came on in the second half for Phil Whitehead. Presumably this was intended to see if Ashdown is up to the challenge of playing in the first eleven, and he certainly looked very confident on his debut.

The scoreline stayed at 5-0, and the match ended with Reading notching their biggest win for a very long time. It could have been even bigger, with Jamie Cureton having a number of opportunities in the second half but this time he was unable to take them. Luckily it didn’t matter, and with so many quality attacking players in the side it really doesn’t matter if one of them has an off-day.

Sadly, Bristol Rovers are still the highest scorers at the Madejski Stadium, but with the Royals in this kind of form that record shouldn’t stand for long.


Post Match Opinions

An outstanding game, Royals were superior to Oldham in every department on Tuesday night. Martin Butler got his just rewards for all the hard work he has put in, Sammy Igoe played out of his skin, Lee Hodges scored what will undoubtedly be a candidate for goal of the season and even Jimmy McIntyre got on the score sheet. Jamie Cureton had a fine game and although he didn't score can be proud of a display like that and on another night would have had another hat trick! Keep playing like this (home & away) and we will be unstoppable. Come on URZ!
-- Richard

Being critical in the past I would like to express my delight at seeing 9 goals in two games. The work rate of the players was fantastic last night, lets hope this run of form can last.
-- William

Pssst ..........whisper it quietly but the good times may be a coming ! Although we've a long way to go the signs are there for all to see . What a tremendous performance last night , could have been 10 . The confidence with which the team is playing is a joy to watch . I believe Cureton and Sammy Igoe have transformed the team with Igoe in particular proving to be a super player capable of producing wonderful play at any time . All the players deserve credit, even Guerny, who's passing skills wouldn't go a miss on a Sunday morning in Prospect Park, giving his all and managing to make one pass.
With three games in the next four away, this will truly show whether the Royals are to be considered serious promotion candidates. With at least four first teamers to come back I think we are capable and should fear no one in the league . Bollocks to a play off spot , let's win the championship !
Come on you URRR'Z !!!

-- Nick

A fantastic result and performance, but just before people get to carried away Reading have had 3 convincing home wins Swindon, Brentford and Oldham all 3 are in the botom 4 of the division.
I dont want to put a damper on things but lets just wait till we play some quality opposition (Wigan, Walsall ect) before we start talking about promotion.

-- Peter Richardson

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