Match Report vs Swindon

17 January 1998 (League)
Swindon 0 READING 2

Att: 9,500

Team: Hammond, Booty, Bernal, Davies, Swales, Hodges, Caskey, Lambert, Morley, Lovell, Bowen.

Man Of The Match: Hammond.


Reading tore Swindon apart in a blinding opening 15 minutes that set Reading on course for a comfortable and memorable victory. The scum continue to tumble down the table while Reading continue to climb. It's hard to believe after seeing Reading bottom and Swindon top earlier this season, but now it looks probable we will shortly be climbing over Swindon in the first division table.

Reading controlled the game throughout. Although Reading settled for the two goal margin towards the end of the second half the first half was worth the tenner alone with a superb all round team effort. With the Leeds result excluded this was probably the highlight of the season so far.

The Royals took the lead within ten minutes. Reading lobbed a high ball towards the edge of the box directed towards Archie "Stephen" Lovell. This caused huge confusion in the Swindon defence resulting in both nearby defenders letting the ball go. Next Fraser "Dodgy Keeper" Digby had to make a decision. Come of his line and catch the ball, or stay on his line and make the save. First he thought he'd better stay on his line but then with Archie getting ever closer to the ball thought he had better come out and flap at it a bit. With Digby (that's a dogs name) off his line, Archie connected with it on the edge of the area and looped the header over Digby into an empty net. YES! 1-0 to the blue and whites! And a rare moment of pleasure for me in an away ground.

Achie had already done enough at this point to justify selection before Asaba when Asaba returns from suspension. In fact scoring against the scum should entitle him to some kind of bonus. Swindon were just coming to terms with being one down when they were two down. Good work from Morley saw Bowen and Lambert legging it through the defence at the Swindon goal - Bowen with the ball. Bowen shot, Digby saved, the ball came out to Lambert who drove it in from six yards out. YES! 2-0 to the R's inside 15 minutes.

With Reading already two goals up the rest of the first half turned into a bit of an end to end affair. Hammond made a great save at his right post to prevent a close range shot putting Swindon back into the game. Davies had to hoof one clear after a scramble in the Reading goal mouth. Down at the other end a determined Lambert broke down the left, past his defender, to create a one on one with the Swindon keeper. Digby was more decisive this time and game storming off his line. Lamberts shot flew into Digby's body and back out into play. Again, at the other end, Hammond was forced to tip a half decent Swindon shot over the bar.

Meanwhile Reading were looking excellent down the wings. Bowen was actually covering a bit as well. Ok, he wasn't exactly going in hard but he was running around a fair bit. Lambert was looking dangerous and Booty was linking with Bowen as well as Swales linking with Lambert. We actually looked dangerous on the break - like we might score a few more. In the centre of defence Davies was again like a brick wall - nothing was getting through him. Hammond was having a blinder back at his old club. Despite a collision when coming out to make a save - nothing was going to stop him. So 2-0 at half time - but it could have been more, and Hammond making sure we didn't let Swindon back in the game.

The first half of the second half was like the start of the first half. (!) Reading on top and cutting through the Swindon defence with ease. Morley twice could have put the game well beyond the home side. Digby again came out well to dive at the feet of Morley who was cutting in from the right. By this time Swindon realised they'd lost it and resorted to a series of long range hoofs over the bar, or wide, or both.

As the final whistle came the home stands were already empty, but the away end was in party mood.

The result was good but the performance was very good.
Terry Bullivant after the game.


Here's a report from the Soccernet website:

Desperate Swindon crashed to their eighth defeat in games as their Premiership dream threatens to turn into a relegation nightmare. Two months after Steve McMahon's men were top of the First Division they have plunged to midway and been knocked out of the FA Cup by non-League Stevenage.

McMahon's response to the string of disasters has been to place eight players on the transfer list and he has promised even more drastic measures.

'I put those players on the list to send out a message that attitudes have got to be right,' he said. 'A hard line has had to be taken and if other players don't give me 100 per cent then they will also be on their way. That's not a threat, that's a promise.' [Actually McMahon said this before the game. Graham]

McMahon, though, must be tempted to head any exodus from the County Ground. Just one win since early November has ended all talk of promotion and the nervous glances over their shoulders are getting more frequent.

The most obvious nerves were at the heart of Swindon's defence which collapsed twice in the first 13 minutes to gift Reading a rare away win.

They took the lead when Andy Bernal's hopeful punt caused chaos among Swindon's hesitant back line and Stuart Lovell nipped in to score his first of the season.

Four minutes later, Jason Bowen and Trevor Morley cut through the Swindon rearguard to give James Lambert a tap-in.

The rest was a formality, although it needed heroics from Fraser Digby and some poor finishing for the humiliation not to be greater.

Swindon's few chances in the first half fell the way of Steve Finney but he could do nothing with them and Chris Hay, who scored 13 goals in the first three months of the season, can now do no right and when the first opening fell to him 12 minutes from time he made a complete mess of it.

At the other end Morley could have had a hat-trick.

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