MATCH REPORT: 2002/2003 Season

15 February 2003: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Reading: Forster (45 mins), Henderson (83 mins).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 7,038

DIVISION ONE  15 Feb 2003
Pos Team P Pts GD
3 Sheff Utd 29 52 +14
4 READING 31 52 +8
5 Notts F 31 51 +17
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Williams, Brown, Shorey, Chadwick (Henderson 75), Sidwell, Hughes, Harper, Salako, Forster (Tyson 85). Subs not used: Watson, Mackie, Ashdown.
Warner, Dunne, Ryan, Ward, Robinson, Reid, Livermore, Bull (Braniff 52), Hearn, Kinet (Sweeney 83), Claridge. Subs not used: Gueret, May, Rees.
Reading: Hahnemann, Williams.
Ref: P Dowd (Staffordshire).

This was another massive win for the Royals that pushed us up to fourth in the table, jumping above Nottingham Forest and closing in on Sheffield United who both didn't play today. We're back into our highest position of the season and deep in the play-off positions with just fifteen games remaining. This was Reading's third straight win as we continue to make up for the poor run that took place during December and January. Our perfect February 2003 so far sees us another big step closer to taking part in those end of season play-offs where anything can happen. It's no longer so far fetched to consider that we have a shot at getting into the Premiership this season.

Once again this was a well controlled Reading victory. Despite plenty of resistance from the opposition Reading emerged victorious against Mark McGhee's Millwall with a determined solid performance to grind out another vital three points. Millwall enjoyed some of the best spells of the game but lacked the edge against an impressive Reading side that looked that bit more organised and capable of taking the win. Hughes made a return to the starting eleven, in place of Ricky Newman, and came back with an excellent performance in the centre of midfield for the Royals alongside Manchester United loanee Luck Chadwick and Steve Sidwell. Once again Reading opted for Nicky Forster as the loan striker - and attempted to soak up some pressure and let Forster do enough up front to put Reading ahead - and that's exactly how the game went, according to Alan Pardew's master plan.

Right from the kick-off the game jumped into life with Millwall enjoying the better start. Within a minute they got in two decent shots needing Marcus Hahnemann to make a save to prevent Reading from conceeding an early goal. As a sign of what was to come though, Reading were straight down the other end with Nicky Forster getting in an early attempt on goal as Reading went on the counter attack. Reading didn't have a massive number of chances during the first half as Forster spent a lot of the game stranded by himself up front waiting for an opportunity from a ball pumped forward. After a slightly nervous start it was Reading that could have taken the lead when Williams could have put us ahead from a James Harper corner. However there was plenty of action down the other end as Millwall kept up a bit of pressure without forcing Hahnemann into many saves. They carved out some good openings but failed to find the target putting a couple of shots wide and over the bar from close range. Hahnemann did need to make a save from a Millwall free-kick from just outside the area after Williams conceeded.

After soaking up the Milwall attack and holding firm Reading enjoyed a much better end to the first half as they replaced Milwall as the more dangerous side. The Millwall goalkeeper had to be in good form to make a double save to keep Reading out after a powerful Brown free-kick was saved and Forster nearly managed to put the rebound into the back of the net. Just before the break Millwall looked set to go ahead when they beat the Reading off-side trap and the ball was crossed into the middle. Unfortunately for the home side the cut-back went behind a whole load of Millwall players who had charged forward looking to finish it off. The mistake allowed Reading to suddenly break with the home side all pushed forward and looking for the goal. Chadwick played it quickly out to Hughes who took it forward before slicing it through to Forster with the Milwall defence still attempting to get back from the other end of the pitch. Forster made no mistake with his shot which beat the keeper and completed the break-away with the goal to put Reading 1-0 up at half-time.

The second half seemed to follow a similar pattern to the first half. After a slightly quieter start it was Millwall again who started to enjoy the most of the game as they went on the hunt for the equaliser. Despite creating some good chances they struggled to beat the Reading defence as Reading played a tight game with plenty behind the ball and a full midfield to leave Millwall with limited opportunities to play the ball forward. Reading limited Millwall's options and were quick to close down any serious danger. The home side did manage a couple of decent crosses but no-one was there to complete the job. When they did manage a shot Hahnemann saved with ease.

Down the other end the Millwall goalkeeper started to look a bit shakey as Reading shrugged off Millwall's attempt to get back into the game and went on the counter attakc yet again. Forster continued to cause problems and got in another decent shot needing a save before he was replaced late on in the game by Nathan Tyson. An earlier subsitution saw Henderson replace the clearly talented Luke Chadwick. Henderson will be delighted with his fifteen minute contribution to the game which saw him seal the Reading win with an excellent solo goal on 83 minutes. Henderson's goal was from well outside the area and flew into the top corner giving the goalkeeper no chance to make the save and made it 2-0 to the Royals to complete another superb victory.

brian parker
How good is this season! Yet another away win against a side who have proved very tough at home. Pardew, Dillon and co need to be given emense credit about the way they have adapted the team to the higher level of play. I know there have been some poor performances this season but this is without a dout the most exciting ever time to be a Royals fan. 1994/1995 season was a dream but the club now is a million miles ahed of the club then, with youth and experence in the side there is a real sense of excitement around the club, not many teams in div1 would be able to take Man U squad menbers on loan and from what I understand he (Chadwick) has been very impressed with what he has seen so far. I can't comment on the game today but a message to all Royals fans, keep your fingers crossed for the play-offs and if we do make it lets hope its third time lucky! C'mon URZZZ!
crowthorne seb
Just caught the last 10 minutes on Radio Berkshire ... "I reckon Reading can make this 2-0" said the commentator - seconds before Henderson cracked one home to make it 2-0. Even Nick Newbury should be happy now!
nick newbury
Tremendous result that cements our position in the play-offs and the chance to play in the promised land next season. Who can really believe it? It's getting close to where we'll be disappointed if we don't make the play offs bearing in mind our current league position. Couldn't make the game and while half listening to game on the radio also watched the Gooners beat Man U in the cup, who can honestly imagine playing those two next season, what would the score be? God knows, but that is the beauty and unpredictability of this game of football. Well played today lads and well done AP, you simply cannot take it away from the man when you consider our league position at this stage of the season. Before today's game most of us would have taken two away draws and been quite happy. Todays super win really means what ever happens on Tuesday against Sheffield Utd will be a bonus. I'll be there and a draw will be a super result but even if we get beat, you know what... it doesn't matter because what ever we do for the remainder of the season it's a great bonus... I've a funny feeling though we're gonna get something at Bramall Lane... come on UURRRZZZZ!
worthing royal
Couldn't go to the game, so I feel a bit of a fraud sending in a comment. Can't resist though, as we win for the first time at the New Den. Brilliant Feb so far. Please don't make Pards Manager of the Month! It really is a kiss of death. Well done to everyone. We are still up there, and dare I suggest that a win on Tuesday will even put us above Sheffield Utd. Keep pinching yourselves. We might be playing at Old Trafford next season after all, no matter how bizarre that may have seemed at the start of the season. URZZZ!
emmer green royal
Great result on saturday although it was against a weak Millwall side. For the first time in a while Forster actually justified his selection with a goal. The two goals were very special and showed how good we can be on the break.
Despite another win and being fourth I still have big doubts about the chances of us doing anything this year or next. Pardew is still determined to stick to 4-5-1 despite saying we will go all out for wins and he still refuse to play Cureton. Without him we are going to continue to have to rely on the midfield to score. Forster now has 8 in 21 games, hardly a great strike rate. He is a very good player but he is not a 20-a-season man. I believe we have one in Cureton but it seems not for long. Henderson will be a very good player but again I can't see him getting 20 a season. 10+ yes but not 20+.
At the moment rather than trying to strengthen the squad Pardew seems determined to weaken it. Cureton has more or less said he is going to leave now cos he's never given a chance and now Igoe has been told he can go. Cureton is the clubs top scorer and this season has a better strike rate than our 'main striker' and yet sits in the stand. Igoe is at present our only right midfielder so what do we do if he goes? We should be be keeping players of their quality and only bring in better players not letting them go.
It's great to have Reading winning regularly but I'm still not convinced we are anything other than an average side in a mainly average division. With Sheff Utd to come we will find out if we really have what it takes to make it with the big boys. unfortunately I have my doubts. Whilst we have won the last 3, 2 of those have been with Chadwick who like Upson earlier is making a big difference to our side. However he is also only on loan. If we are going to stay where we are we have got to BUY players of the quality of those two.
It's time for the Chairman to put up if he wants us to go up. Here's hoping.
caversham royal
Another good result and up to 4th. Wow. I slag Forster off last week and he scores this week. Shock. Henderson comes on and does well again, scoring a cracker. Excellent. Let's hope for another good result against Sheffield Utd. COME ON.......
oli davey
After having listened to McGhee on 5 live last week at the Gillingham game, and his complete and utter bias against Reading, I've a smile all over my face. I thnk a text question was sent into the 5 live studio to McGhee went a bit like this "who would you want Milwall to give a stuffing to the most Reading or Gillingham?" Without an intake breath the reply was "Reading, and we've got them on the weekend". Ha ha ha.
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