MATCH REPORT: 2003/2004 Season

13 September 2003: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Reading: -
West Ham:
Dailly (17 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 32,634

DIVISION ONE  13 Sep 2003
Pos Team P Pts GD
6 Cardiff 6 11 +7
7 READING 6 11 +6
8 Sheff Utd 6 11 +1
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Williams, Brown, Shorey, Murray (Tyson 79), Hughes, Sidwell, Harper (Watson 76), Goater, Forster. Subs not used: Ashdown, Mackie, Newman.
West Ham:
James, Ferdinand (Alexandersson 54), Pearce, Repka, Quinn, Dailly, Lee, Horlock, Connolly, Defoe, Mellor (Etherington 55). Subs not used: Bywater, Kilgallon, Noble.
Reading: Hughes, Sidwell.
West Ham:
Connolly, Defoe, Horlock, Repka.
Referee: D J Gallagher (Banbury)

After all the events of the week, with Alan Pardew's semi-departure and the war of words between West Ham United and Reading, it was a relief to finally get this game underway. All the talk during the week was about how it was going to be an intense atmosphere and how the rival fans wouldn't exactly get on too well. Travelling to and from the ground by the Tube and even inside the ground there was little evidence of two clubs fighting over a manager. Perhaps Reading fans are already used to the idea of a club without Alan Pardew, and the West Ham fans didn't seem too bothered about Pardew's possible arrival. They are clearly happy enough at the moment being managed by Trevor Brooking and Pardew hardly seemed to register much feeling within the home fans today. Reading's travelling fans gave their full support to John Madejski and Kevin Dillon and the game got underway with the home fans strangely silenced by a vocal Reading following packed behind the goal.

Pardew's interest in West Ham was due to their "big club" status - and there was no doubt of this status simply looking around the ground and at their team sheet. However, the argument remains that Reading are a club on their way up with perhaps brighter prospects. We found ourselves a few rows from the front and in a corner, paying full price for a ticket, but with a seriously poor view of the pitch. It was impossible to see what was going on in the far corner and a real struggle to see anything running down one side of the pitch. Before the game we queued for a full half hour for a pie and pint only to arrive at the front of the queue about two minutes before kick-off. The balti pie, the standard measure of the quality of any football ground, was an overheated dried up affair too. For less money you're guaranteed an excellent view at the Madejski Stadium from any seat with plenty of leg room and you can get a beer in less than thirty minutes. Upton Park might look more impressive and hold more people, but the Madejski Stadium still puts it to shame. Unfortunately it's the football that wins the league points and West Ham were ahead of us on that today.

On the evidence of this game West Ham should do all they can to keep Trevor Brooking in charge - his successful spell so far as caretaker manager looks unlikely to end in defeat with performances of this confidence. It certainly wasn't a perfect West Ham performance and Reading gave them a real run for their money later on in the game - but they remained in control despite solid second half effort from the Royals. There would have been little Pardew could have added to a West Ham side full of star players and working well as a team during the first half. After a very shaky start the Royals got down to the Pardew style of football later in the game but struggled to find a way through despite all their excellent second half possession play.

The opening twenty minutes belonged to the home side. Perhaps it was the events of the week or perhaps the Royals were a bit in awe gracing the pitch in front of a full Upton Park against a side of household names. It looked like it might be a disaster early on until the Royals eventually settled down. Reading started like a Division below the Hammers who played the ball around sending Reading players sliding all over the place on a recently watered pitch. The home side's quick direct football saw Reading second to the ball and failing to get in some important tackles as West Ham threatened to pull ahead. They cut through the Reading defence and saw an early shot come off the foot of Hahnemann's left post, the offside flag was required to keep Reading on level terms. Moments later Hahnemann showed the form he was to continue for the rest of the game with a save from a shot just inside the box. It was all one way traffic as Reading struggled to even get a touch. A corner from the left saw West Ham take the lead when the ball was firmly headed home from the centre of the box into the back of the Reading net with the Reading defence failing to challenge. It was to be the only goal of the game.

After the goal Reading spent the rest of the game chasing the equaliser and West Ham appeared prepared to let them do that in the knowledge their defence would hold firm. The whole Reading team appeared to chip in with Goater running back to keep winning the ball and lay it off to start a Reading move forward. We looked good passing the ball around as West Ham didn't interfere as we stroked it forward looking for an opening. Unfortunately openings were few and far between. Murray put in a few promising crosses from the right in the first half but Hughes was missing entirely down the left despite some good runs forward from Shorey. The second half saw Reading step up a gear and dominate the game in terms of possession - but not in terms of shots of target.

We looked a good side across the pitch during the second period, until the final third when we continually ran into a wall with the home defence showing few signs of breaking. The Reading passing seemed to break down when it mattered too often. Forster went on a good run and had Hughes spare to his right but instead of knocking it into his path to break through he blasted it at a player between him and goal. A waste of a good opportunity and Hughes went totally mad at Forster throwing his arms around and having a real tantrum. About ten minutes later the same situation occured, Forster didn't want to be violently abused by Hughes this time so laid it his right and into the path of Hughes. It was another real chance - but Hughes blasted the ball into orbit and was lucky Forster didn't return the same abuse.

One of Reading's best chances came when James, in the West Ham goal, let the ball slip from a Sidwell shot from the edge of the box. The shot lacked real power but caught the keeper unaware and Forster nearly followed up the spilt ball until it was collected. Murray had a half decent shot too that was wide of the post with the keeper perhaps beaten. Sidwell looped a header onto the top of the net as Reading won a series of corners. Down the right Murray created a few chances - and nearly supplied an excellent cross to Goater who would have been set to score. Unfortunately it was another final ball inches wrong that was tidied up by the West Ham defence.

With Reading pushing forward and running out of time to score it seemed to open the game up to allow West Ham to break forward on a number of occassions. Reading were industrious but lacked the artistry on the edge of the box - meanwhile West Ham soaked up the pressure and looked far more dangerous when they came forward. Without the skill of Hahnemann in the Reading goal we could have actually lost this game by four or five goals. Hahnemann made a series of excellent saves during the second half. Once he cleanly held the ball when it was heading for the top corner. The West Ham fans were all on their feet to celebrate the second when suddenly Hahnemann appeared from nowhere to make the save - and that happened more than just the once. He pushed a few wide of the post after excellent West Ham shots on target and was probably Reading's man of the match. The Reading defence didn't have a bad game - but relied on Hahnemann to tidy up with Defoe and Connolly both twisting and turning our defence on regular intervals.

If West Ham had have been allowed to win by a bigger margin it wouldn't have fairly reflected the game. The home side certainly deserved the win but the small margin was about right with Reading enjoying a lot of the ball. Today our patience didn't pay off, but against other sides in the Division we might well have come away with the victory today. I'd expect West Ham to be right up there at the end of the season, and hopefully Reading won't be far behind. Kevin Dillon will be looking forward to his first home game in charge during the week. Cardiff won 5-0 today and jumped one place above Reading who slipped to seventh, so it'll be another big test for Dillon. Lets give him our full support once again. Alan who?

nick newbury
After all the hype, build up and emotions on the past week, in the end the actual game turned out to be a bit of an anti climax and a damp squib. I found the whole thing a bit bizarre, the buzz on the train on the way up to London was amazing as we shared banter with old fat blokes in Chelski shirts bulging at the seems, where have they all suddenly come from! Anyhow, arrived at Upton Park in brilliant sunshine and whilst sharing a plate of eel pie and mash with some Hammer fans (who were a credit to their club) most of them either didn't have a clue who Pardew was or what he had achieved in the game, nor did they want him, it's Brooking they all want to a man. Pardew is history though, and if things don't work out for him, he could always sell hot dogs outside the ground. As for the game, it certainly didn't live up to hype, had it not been for a piece of schoolboy marking at the corner for their goal, we'd have got away with a 0-0. We played poorly and West Ham certainly had the better chances but Yankee Doodle Dandy had a stormer with three outstanding saves, I can't recall James having to make one save. We certainly were not either disgraced or outclassed but to come away disappointed with a 1-0 away at West Ham shows how far we have come as a club. Couple of comments, Forster, you greedy git, he had a dreadful game and has got to start passing, chances come few and far between the higher we go, he must start looking up and giving it. Murty who usually shines had a mare, he's great going forward but must learn to defend and especially learn how to time his headers, his balls up led to the corner where they scored. The rest did ok, but it was never going to be our day. Brilliant support in what I thought was a bit of a dump of a ground, as for the three mile queue for the tube after, what the bloody hell is that all about! Massive games coming up, two homes ones, starting with the Taffy Arabs on Tuesday, JM should give Kevin Dillon a chance, don't rush into decisions, great coaches don't always make great managers. Give him half a dozen games or so then see how things stand, what ever happens Dillon is a vital and loyal part of this clubs future. Finally if you do see a grey haired bloke in a track suit with AP on it selling hotdogs outside the ground on Tuesday, don't buy one!
worthing royal
The long awaited West Ham game had finally arrived. It seemed like an age since our last match. Expectation was high, and despite the stature of our 'big time' opponents, I think we all felt we could win it. I spent ages looking for West Ham's Mr Pea (discussion board refers), If you havent seen his postings on our site, he was a wind up merchant, who obviously got great pleasure out of be-littling Reading over the Pards affair. For all I know I may have been standing right next to him at any point. All their fans sounded as patronising as each other, so it was impossible to identify him.
Three o'clock, and off we went. We didn't get a kick for the first 10 minutes, and despite our previous optimism, I for one was by now dreading a thrashing. We seemed to freeze, and but for the woodwork, the offside flag, and a super yankee doodle performance, we could have been 3 or 4 down in that time. The inevitable goal arrived, and West Ham seemed content to let us play after that. In fact we got into the game to such an extent, we could have nicked a point. What we did not have yesterday was a spark to create a goal. We went through the motions, but never really broke them down. One brilliant Murty run and cross from the right towards the end of the first half, could and should have given us the equaliser. Hughes fluffed the header, and the 'ammers regrouped. Apart from that we looked a bit insipid.
Dillon must be given a chance, but I fear we must win at least one of the two home games this week, if he is to stand a chance of keeping the job permanently. Cardiff on Tuesday, and Coventry on Saturday won't be easy. We need at least 4 points out of these to stay in touch. In the end, the game did not live up to its high billing. We have not fallen apart after Pards undignified departure though, and I still believe this could be our season. URRZZZ!
thatcham royal
Not sure what to make of this game. It was a typical Pardew performance. How many times last season did we perform terribly after an enforced break? All of them? As such I don't know if the game had any relevance. In a perverse way I'm glad we lost. If we had won, people would have said (maybe the players would have thought) same Pardew side, same result. Well we lost & Dillon has a chance to really impose his opinions on the team who will be eager to hear how to handle an in form Cardiff. The grudge game has been and gone. Though any neutral wouldn't have known there was any ill feeling. They may get more support, but the ground is a hotch potch of a stadium. The facilities look poor, and the area is a sh*t hole. Did any body else wonder if the tactic to over water the pitch before kick off & at half time caught our boys out? They certainly struggled to stay on their feet.
caversham royal
So the West Ham cheats win this round... But Brooking, Pardew (if managing them & not still part of legal litigation) et al will get theirs come April 3rd. Back to winning ways I hope Tues. COME ON....
As the kick off approached 3, the noise within the ground gradually rising I just had to remind myself where it had all started. There were no surprises within the starting line-up, but the first surprise was our first 20 minutes. The way we performed,anyone would have thought we were still in the dressing room.Our first half performence wasn't the most encouraging. However during the second half we were starting to create some good moves but just didn't look the part in the final third. However once again we looked poor especially down the left wing. Andy Hughes is NOT a left winger,he plays best down the middle however yesterday Steve Sidwell showed his true class. Apart from Marcus being superb, he was great in the middle and showed passion and desire that gave me real hope. Rumours linking him with Aston Villa is off no surprise. I think our problem is down the left wing,there is big pressure on Scott Murray do get quality balls in for Fozzy and Shaun,with it being impossible for Hughes to do it with a lack of a left foot. Overall,a bit dissapointed we started slowly and that we weren't good enough in the final thrid but perhaps this can get Omar Daley into the team. He is talked about being a good playmaker and therefore would be a decent solution.
wimbledon royal
I had been looking forward to this match all week. Met up with an ex-work colleague who is a nutter hammers fan, shared pie and mash with him and his mate (never missed a Hammers home game in 27 years!) and then sat in the Doc Martens stand pretending to be a 'neutral' (NB ridiculously small ticket allocation for the Royals). I had been told it would be quiet, however, the Hammers and their fans seemed to be far more up for it than the Royals. The first 20 minutes were terrible, their 3-4-3 formation swamped us, no-one could pass, it was embarassingly bad - shades of Leicester last season. Thankfully(?) their goal settled us down. Unfortunately, we never really got a clean chance against DJ. Their defence was pretty solid and we lacked 'Caskey-type' creativity. Hahnemann certainly earned his crust with a number of excellent stops, double-saves etc. He needed to. This could have been 0-3 after 15 minutes. My mate said the Hammers played fairly well, but kept him nervous until the final whistle - and as the programme said Connolly and Defoe never passed to each other, otherwise we could have been cannon fodder by 4.45. On the walk to Plaistow tube we both agreed the ref was poor. No major bad decisions but dishing out yellow cards for very innocuous challenges. Lets hope this is just a blip. We'll soon know.... UUURRRRRZZZZargh
Got an opinion? E-Mail us at
Appropriate submissions will appear on match report pages

Quick Links:
  [Match Reports Index]   [Match Previews Index]   [Current League Table]

Link to Hob Nob Anyone? Home Page
Copyright Hob Nob Anyone? © 1994-2003

The Original Reading Football Club Internet Site