PETERBOROUGH UNITED 1 READING 0 (HT: 0-0)
Peterborough Scorers: Cullen (89 mins, penalty)
|Date: 16 September
Reading: Whitehead, Gurney, Viveash, Hunter (Sent Off), Newman,
Parkinson, Caskey, Hodges, Butler (McIntyre), Cureton, Igoe (Smith).
Following three straight league victories with ten goals scores and none conceeded it was always hard to know what to expect against a Peterborough side without a home win all season. Being a Reading fan it was easy to expect a defeat to stop our current run of form, even with the same starting eleven that had seen off Brentford and Oldham four-nil and five-nil. But the result does not tell the full story. Reading were very unlucky not to get something from this game - we should have had at least a point, but could easily have taken the full three points with a bit more luck. The home side did not deserve the win, and needed a dodgy 89th minute penalty to take the points. At the final whistle the whole away end was chanting "1-0 to the referee" - and from where we were stood it was easy to think that Reading had been cheated out of the points.
The first half was very forgettable with both sides playing out an uneventual opening forty five minutes to go in 0-0 at the break. The biggest concern for the Royals was Sammy Igoe who, after taking the piss out of the Peterborough defence down the right wing, was hacked to the floor moments before half time and needed to be replaced by Neil Smith. Before that Igoe had provided the brightest moments of the half for the Royals by firing in plenty of crosses from the right. One of them gave Reading one of their best chances when Butler met the ball, but his header flew well over the home crossbar. Down the other end Whitehead only really had to make one save from an effort from the edge of the box which he saved with his knees to send it out for a corner.
It might have Pardew's tactics to just play out the first half and then go for victory in the second half - because that's what seemed to be happening. The second half was all Reading attack as we pushed forward looking for a goal or two. Peterborough were restricted to attempts on the break, and it seemed inevitable that we'd grab the win at some point during the half.
Jamie Cureton could have been on a hat-trick again - but their keeper did enough every time to keep him off the scoresheet. From a Caskey free kick just outside the box on the Reading left, Cureton got a shot in that was sneaking into the bottom left corner. Just before it crossed the line the keeper was there to tip it wide for the corner. In another attempt Cureton did well to get his head on a cross and send the ball on target, dipping under the bar, but it was tipped over. Cureton's best shot was when he was released down the right after a long ball from Newman, with the defenders behind him Cureton shot from the edge of the box. However, the keeper has closed the angle and the ball was well wide the other side of goal. On another day Cureton's first touch would have been better and he would have cut inside and buried it.
Caskey and McIntyre, who came on for Butler during the second half, could also have put Reading ahead. McIntyre had a similar chance to Cureton after he was played an excellent ball to the edge of the box in the centre. He could have taken it a bit closer, and then one of the three defenders behind him might have brought him down for the penalty. Instead, with the keeper racing off his line, he shot - a decent effort but right at the keeper. Caskey almost sneaked one in with a decent free kick from the right that was saved by the keeper getting down quickly to his left.
On the break Peterborough forced Whitehead into making two excellent saves from shots from the edge of the box. But it was Reading that continued to step up the pressure, and before Peterborough won their penalty we could have had a couple after the ball was controlled with hands and arms inside the area. On one occassion a Peterborough defender almost caught the ball under pressure in his area - but got away with it with his back to the referee.
As the game entered the last five minutes it was announced over the tannoy that their keeper, Tyler, has been awarded man of the match. And that gives some indication of the balance of play. Tyler had pulled off several excellent saves in the second half, despite constant chants of "dodgy keeper" from the Reading end, and without him Reading would have come away with the win.
As it was it was Peterborough that grabbed the win as the game entered the last couple of minutes. On a rare attack the ball was fired into the Reading area, as it came back out it was fired in again. The ball cannoned against Barry Hunter inside the area, and bounced out of danger. The referee paused and then needed to consult his linesman before pointing to the penalty spot. From our end it was impossible to really see what had happened, but it appeared the ball must have struck Hunter on the arm. For some bizarre reason the officials thought it must have been deliberate, even though it seemed Hunter couldn't have got out of the way, and then Hunter was shown the red card. Up stepped Peterborough's Cullen and blasted the ball into the bottom left corner of the net. 0-1, and we couldn't believe it. To make things even worse Reading came storming back towards us looking for the late equaliser, the ball bounced in the area up onto the arm of a home defender, and yet the referee waved play-on. It was clearly just one of those days.
Ignoring the result Reading can take quite a bit from this performance. We were the better side and played some great attacking football away from home. The players knew it too - coming over to the away fans to thank them for providing such a great atmosphere. Perhaps if we'd have played like we did in the second half for the full ninety minutes we might have had the game wrapped up well before the dodgy last minute penalty against us. However, there's no reason we won't bounce back next week with another decent home victory over Swansea.
Following report by Neil Cole:
This was another poor result away from home for the Royals, but this time the scoreline doesnt reflect the performance of the Reading players as it was a game we really should have won. Reading were the better team throughout the match, and how they came away from it on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline is beyond me. Its easy to blame the referee for a number of poor decisions in the game, but really it was the succession of missed chances in the second half that cost us the game.
Its typical that after scoring nine times in two home games, we were unable to find the net at Peterborough despite creating a number of decent chances. While the Oldham keeper kept the score down to only five when it could have been more, the Peterborough keeper today kept Reading out for the whole match when they could have had another hatful of goals.
Alan Pardew named an unchanged side from the team that had trounced Brentford and Oldham. Despite a fitness scare, Martin Butler took the field up front to continue his partnership with Jamie Cureton. Darren Caskey was once again in his preferred role in the centre of midfield with Igoe and Hodges out wide. There was still no Matt Robinson, forcing Andy Gurney to continue playing in his unfamiliar role of left-back.
The first half was surprisingly uneventful, and it was disappointing that neither side could find any kind of opening. Despite the chants of we want six from the Reading fans, Reading never looked like scoring in the first 45 minutes and it was no surprise that the game was goal-less at half-time. Yet the Reading fans stayed in good voice, and with the Royals attacking towards the packed terrace of their own fans, the second half was very different from the first as they created one chance after another.
It was unfortunate that the Peterborough goalie responded to the chants of dodgy keeper from the Reading fans by having the game of his life and winning the match for his side. The first indication of things to come was a free-kick from just outside the area, which Darren Caskey curled round the wall bound for the bottom corner of the net. Yet Tyler, the borough keeper, dived to his right to deny Caskey his first set-piece goal of the season. He followed that up by somehow getting in the way of a Cureton effort, after the Reading striker had found himself unmarked and fired in from close range. It was an excellent save from Tyler, yet the referee bizarrely gave a goal-kick in the first of a series of errors which all favoured the home side.
Worse was to follow, as a Peterborough defender made a clear handball in his own area right in front of the travelling Royals fans. The simultaneous shout of handball from 800 or so fans behind the goal was enough to make the ref glance at the linesman, but somehow neither official had seen it and play continued.
At this point the decision didnt seem a disaster, because Reading were so clearly on top of the game that it only seemed a matter of time before they finished off a weak Peterborough team. Yet Tyler continued to keep his side in it, saving another free-kick after a deflection in the area, and safely gathering a Lee Hodges effort from outside the box. Jamie Cureton then had a great chance to put Reading in the lead as he was put through one on one against the keeper. Although he cleared the keeper with his shot, it disappeared past the wrong side of the post and the chance was gone.
The frustration was clear to see in both the players and the fans, and Reading began to lose their grasp on the game with less than ten minutes to go. For the first time in the half, play was centred around the Reading box at the far end, as Peterborough strived to take something from the match. At this point, the 0-0 looked inevitable, as despite this late spell of pressure the Reading defence were coping easily. Peterboroughs ex-Premiership front line of Guy Whittingham, Andy Clarke and Jason Lee hadnt managed to get through a determined Reading back-line all game.
Yet with just a minute to go, a shot from the edge of the area was bundled away by Barry Hunter, and the referee gave a very dubious penalty to the home side for handball. Worse was to follow, as Hunter was dismissed for deliberate handball. Cullen slotted home the penalty, and Reading had thrown away three valuable points. There was another shout for handball in the last minute of the game as Reading pushed forward, but I think this was optimism on the part of the Reading fans and the ref once again waved play-on.
It was sheer disbelief at the final whistle that Peterborough finished with all three points. Fourteen goal in four games at home is an excellent record, but its not going to be much use if Reading continue to struggle away from the Madejski Stadium. Just one goal and three points from four away matches is relegation form, and if it continues then the dream of promotion is going to disappear very quickly.
On a positive note, the defence continues to improve with every game, and today it was a pleasure to see every Reading player getting back and prepared to help the back four when Peterborough were in possession. One criticism that can still be levelled at the centre backs is their willingness to simply hoof the ball upfield (or out of touch) whenever they gain possession. Barry Hunter was particularly guilty of wasting possession on a number of occasions. One comment overheard at the end of match suggested the only good thing to come out of this match was that at least Hunter will get a ban now!
All is not lost, and Reading are still in fifth position and only four points off the top of the league. Yet this is the third setback already in our league campaign, and too many more results like this will see the gap between us and top increase very rapidly. Its Swansea at home next, and although I think we should forget the we want six idea, a win of some sort is a necessity.
Post Match Opinions
I just had to do it.
This was my first away trip of the season and my first
visit to London Road. As with most away trips I thought that the travelling
Reading fans provided a vast majority of the noise inside the ground.
The first half was tight but I was pleased with nil - nil in previous
seasons it's the poorer teams that get us but we were holding our own!
Sammy Igoe was their biggest concern and shame he was crocked by their
defence just before the break. I would also like to point out how disgusted
I was with the home support jeering him on the stretcher one can only
take this as a sign of there relief.
For those who went to the away match last season at Wycombe
we should have know what to expect with Wilkes as the ref. Quite simply
he is totally useless and combined with Peterborough fans who could only
cheer in the last minute of the game it wasn't a very good afternoon.
However I thought all the Royals fans got behind the team for most of
the match. We should have won this match with chances we had especially
in the second half.If we are going to achieve promotion this season we
need to be strong enough to beat teams like Peterborough. What is it about
Reading players with injuries, missing Igoe for six weeks is not good
news. Still Gurney seems to keep fit!. Any way I am confident we can make
it this season, come on URZ!
I should have known this was going to be a bad day,when
having barely had 2 mouthfuls of my first lager of the day,in a Peterborough
pub,I was approached by some ugly jock twat,cauliflower ears and all,
and asked if I was here for the fighting. Resisting the urge to punch
his montrosity of an excuse for a face, I politely declined his kind offer.
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