(Half Time: 0-1)
Reading Scorers: Butler (12 mins and 83 mins)
Wrexham Scorers: Trundle (69 mins)
Date: 17 March 2001
Attendance: 5,080

Reading: Whitehead, Robinson, Hunter, Whitbread, Murty, Parkinson, Caskey (Igoe), Harper, Rougier (Cureton), Butler, McIntyre (Newman). Subs not used: Howie, Henderson.

Wrexham: Dearden, Roche, Ridler (Lawrence), Carey, McGregor, Gibson, Barrett (Blackwood), Ferguson, Russell, Morrell (Faulconbridge), Trundle. Subs not used: Edwards, Walsh.

Bookings: Hunter, McIntyre (Reading).
Referee: M J Brandwood (Lichfield)

What a result!
In the end this was probably one of the most satistying away victories of the season. Who could have thought a trip to snowy North Wales could have been this enjoyable? With Wrexham needing victory to keep up the chance of a play-off place, and with their run of amazing form, it was hard to see the Royals coming away with yet another away victory. And throughout the second half it seemed we had good reason to think that a victory was going to be near impossible as Wrexham threw everything forward, keeping solid pressure on the Reading goal. When Martin Butler stuck in his second goal of the game with eight minutes left it was an amazing feeling as the away end erupted to celebrate another away victory - and our eleventh game without defeat in the league. With Millwall losing on Friday there's now a real chance of catching them sooner rather than later as the race for the top two places in the table really hots up. The way in which we won this game seemed to make it even better - after becoming convinced the most we could hope for was a draw. However, the Royals certainly deserved some points after putting in solid effort throughout the whole ninety minutes. Wrexham must have been gutted, but the travelling fans were left with a very very happy trip home.

The first twenty minutes gave no indication of what was to come. Both sides got off to a decent start but it was Reading that started to dominate the game, attacking towards the away end. The pitch was soaking and the rain and snow continued to come down - but it was Reading that looked like making the most of the conditions. Rougier started in place of Cureton and got off to a great start, although he did seem to get knackered quickly in the second half. Rougier could have had a couple of goals for the Royals in the opening twenty minutes. Once he went storming through the middle of the pitch, beating a couple of players, and looked like he might cut into the middle and score. However he was pushed wide and failed to cut in for the shot. Moments before that a cross from the Reading right found Rougier in the middle of the Wrexham area. Rougier's shot wasn't half as powerful as it might have been though and was easily saved by the porky Wrexham keeper.

Reading kept up a good period of pressure, winning a couple of corners on the right that were played in by Jimmy McIntyre. McIntyre was involved when Reading took the lead 12 minutes into the half. The ball was crossed in and the keeper came storming off his line to challenge Jimmy McIntyre for the ball. The keeper failed to hold it and it broke on the edge of the area to Martin Butler. With a couple of defenders in the area, Butler lobbed the ball towards goal. It seemed to hang in the air for ages before dipping well under the crossbar and into the back of the net. 1-0 the Royals.

After a frantic start Reading started to ease off a bit towards half time and there were the first signs of Wrexham's domination to come. The home side really should have drawn level just before the break. In a fast attack they were left with the ball a few inches away from goal as it was played in from the right, inside the box. Rather than drive it home the Wrexham forward sent the ball flying over the crossbar when it might have been easier to score.

After the break there was only one team in it as Wrexham threw everything forward and did everything but score during twenty minutes of solid pressure. They won corner after corner and put in some decent shots on the Reading goal. Whitehead did well to tip one just over the bar, and made a couple of great stops from longer range efforts. Wrexham were certainly hitting them with power - but only finding Whitehead in the middle of the goal. Once they did position it better and Whitehead did well to get down quickly to his right to push the ball wide the other side of the post. Whitehead was only beaten the once before they did eventually equalise - Whitbread clearing off the line as the ball headed goalbound. Hunter and Whitbread were looking a good combination in the centre of defence, until Wrexham eventually managed a goal with twenty minutes left. The goal came after another period of pressure and was no suprise as Trundel scored from the middle of the box into the bottom right of Whitehead's goal.

At that point we had every reason to expect a Wrexham second. But instead Reading sprung back into life - urged forward by the support behind the goal. We pushed forward, but never really managed a decent effort on goal until eight minutes from time when Harper went on a run deep into enemy territory down the left. Harper cut the ball back to Matt Robinson on the edge of the box, and he fired a cross into the area, where Butler was lurking to connect with and send it into the back of the net. 1-2 to the Royals, and massive celebration as Reading kept the pressure on the top two places.

Following Report by Neil Cole:
Reading’s remarkable run of results continued with another massive win at play-off hopefuls Wrexham, extending the unbeaten run to eleven games and moving the Royals another three points closer to Millwall. The only team that can match Reading’s current form is Rotherham, and another win for the Millers today means it is now tighter than ever at the top of the table. Every game from now until May has enormous significance, and if Reading can continue to come away with results like today’s they look a good bet for automatic promotion.

It looked a bad time to be playing Wrexham, as the Welsh club have hit some good form and were unbeaten at home since November. As the match progressed today, it was clear to see how Wrexham have surged up the table, as they gave Reading a tough game from start to finish. For the first time this season, Reading left with three points that they perhaps didn’t deserve, and Wrexham will be gutted they lost this one having come from a goal behind in the second half.

The hero today was Martin Butler, who scored two quality goals that wrapped up the points for Reading. Butler hasn’t been in great scoring form recently, but today’s brace takes him to 19 for the season and he is now only two goals behind Jamie Cureton. Butler’s partner up front today was Tony Rougier, as an injury to Jamie Cureton meant our leading scorer was only given a place on the bench. The only other change from the side that beat Wigan was at centre-back, where Barry Hunter replaced Adi Viveash.

After Wrexham had made a bright start to the game, Reading took the lead after just 12 minutes. A high ball from Darren Caskey caught out the Wrexham defence, and their keeper was forced to come out of his area to challenge Jim McIntyre for the bouncing ball. The keeper won the ball but could only head it out as far as Martin Butler, who placed a perfect lob back over his head and into the net. Butler celebrated in front of the 700 or so travelling Royals fans, who were in good voice throughout the first half.

Wrexham almost got back in the game, but defender David Ridler wasted a great chance by blazing over from three yards out. Reading looked comfortable for the rest of the half, without threatening to add to the scoreline.

As we had seen at Oldham and Swansea in recent away games, Pardew decided to try and protect the lead by sending the team out on the defensive in the second half. It was constant Wrexham pressure after the break, and Whitbread and Hunter did well to hold out for 25 minutes. Hunter made one vital goal-line block which allowed Whitbread to clear, and shortly after that Darren Ferguson hit the post after he had won a free-kick on the edge of the Reading area.

The inevitable came with twenty minutes left though, as Wrexham’s new star Lee Trundle scored his seventh goal in five games since signing from Rhyl. It was another spectacular effort, as he turned and shot from the edge of the area after Hunter had blocked an earlier effort. The equaliser was probably all Wrexham deserved, and the way things were going it looked like they would go on to get a winner.

However, Alan Pardew decided to change things round, as Cureton and Igoe were introduced at the expense of Rougier and Caskey. The goal also seemed to wake the rest of the team up, and we at last started to see some Reading pressure. Cureton got agonisingly close to a Harper free-kick, and Ricky Newman fired wide shortly after he had come on for Jim McIntyre.

Reading then got the winner with seven minutes left, after another good break from James Harper. The former Arsenal player has had an influential role in all three games he has played so far, and surely it is no coincidence that we have won all of them. Harper broke down the left before passing to Matt Robinson, who swung a first time cross into the box. Butler got a flick on it, and the pace of the ball from Robinson meant the Wrexham keeper had no chance.

The second goal seemed to kill Wrexham off, whose players could barely believe they were trailing after having had so much pressure. Reading defended the last ten minutes comfortably, and the celebrations could begin when the ref blew the final whistle. This was a very creditable result, against a Wrexham side who could still make the play-offs if they continue playing like this.

The determination of the Reading team to succeed this year was there for all to see today, and with eleven games left there’s plenty of time to overtake Millwall and Rotherham. It would be a very unlikely championship if you look back to the league tables of early January, but at the moment our chances seem to be increasing with every game.

Post Match Opinions

The first thing that you notice when you get to the Racecourse ground is the lack of goals. They carry them onto the pitch just before kick-off and pop them into the ground - bizarre! Reading started well and it was no surprise that they took the lead. The goal was well taken by Butler after an error by Deardon. He came out the edge of the box, didn't claim the ball and his little legs couldn't get him back fast enough as the ball looped over his head into the goal. Great start! The Reading defence looked very strong with Hunter outstanding. He won almost every header and was rock solid.
Parky literally sprinted out of the tunnel for the second half to great cheers. That's the way to come out after half time. What a player! The rest just jogged out like normal; were they ready for the onslaught to come? Wrexham raised their game and showed why they were the in-form team of this division going into this game. They played with more urgency and eventually Lee Trundle (good player, bad name) fired it in after a sharp turn. The game could have gone either way and the draw looked likely. However a surging run by Harper, a dangerous cross and Butler there to finish superbly, 2-1 and the Reading fans went ballistic.
With minutes to go Wrexham threw on their 6' 7'' player from Trinidad and Tobago, Dennis Lawrence and played him up front. I think he is the tallest footballer I have ever seen. Hunter still won everything in the air up against him and he was my man of the match. One other bizarre thing: the supporter in front of me cheering for "Reading Bedding" all game - surreal!
Fantastic result though!

-- Telford Royal

Having experienced the journey from hell getting to this game, I feel my patience was richly rewarded. I left home at 7.15am and didn't arrive in Wrexham until 2.30pm, those ******* trains!
This was a game we scarcely deserved to win, although for the first half hour we were in total control and they were all over the place.Butler scored a superb lob after their Telly Tubby in goal went walkabout.The second half was completely different they nearly scored after 30 seconds of the restart but for a good Whitehead save.Whitbread cleard one off the line, it was real backs to the wall stuff.They did score and deservedly so. Then with a couple of minutes to go Harper sets off on a run gives the ball to Robinson who squares it for Butler, 2-1! There was a second or two when everyone looked each other in silence in the away end, then it sank in that we really had scored and everyone went mental.
Butler had a great game today, Igoe looked very calm when he came on and made a difference toward the end.He was the only one who would keep the ball and not just hoof it. I thought Rougier was crap and should have come off much earlier.
Overall a lucky 3 points but how many times have we walked away from games feeling robbed? Peterborough away springs to mind.
A quick sprint back to the station and home by midnight.

-- Russ, Essex Royal.

Couldn't make the game, so had to listen to Radio Berkshire, what torture that was, nothing against the commentators who do seem genuine Royals fans, but the game sounded like the Welsh Alamo! By the sound of it all the lads battled well and the ability to get a result at Wrexham who themselves are in great form is great testimony to Pardew and the players. The team are now surely on the verge true greatness in our small little world of RFC.
It is now totally in our hands, we are due to play many of the bottom teams away from home and must get results at the likes of Swindon, Oxford and Luton though all will be tough. We're top of the league form table, Millwall are shaking and will have Harris and Moody suspended for three vital games and Rotherham of their ten games left, seven are away!
Let's see a massive crowd at the Mad Stad on Friday and sing ourselves hoarse as the Royals surge on to the Championships.
You bloody RRRZZZZ!

-- Nick Newbury

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