OXFORD UNITED 0 READING 2 (Half Time: 0-1)
Cureton (20 mins), Butler (71 mins).
Oxford United Scorers: -
|Date: 17 April
Reading: Whitehead, Robinson, Viveash, Whitbread, Newman, Parkinson, Jones (Caskey), Igoe, Cureton (Forster), Butler, Rougier (Harper). Subs not used: Howie, Hunter.
Oxford United: Knight, Robertson, Richardson, Patterson, Ricketts (Powell), Hatswell (Anthrobus), Murphy, Fear, Beauchamp,Gray (Omoyinmi), Scott. Subs not used: Wilson, Whitehead.
Bookings: Caskey (Reading)
Another derby match, another win, and another goal apiece for Cureton and Butler - we couldn't have hoped for much better. Oxford showed us exactly why they were the only team in England to be relegated before Easter, as a pitiful performance from the home side was duly punished by the Royals. Reading were far from spectacular, but the players did what they had to and took another big step toward promotion. The game was reminiscent of the F.A. Cup game against Grays earlier in the season, such was the gap in class between the sides.
The Reading end was, as usual, completely sold out, as over 2500 Royals made the short trip to the Manor. This was our last ever visit to one of the country's worst grounds - yet I'm sure we'll all miss it in a strange sort of way. The trip to Oxford always produces something memorable; after the Bullivant protests of two years ago, and the Mexican wave of last season, tonight saw us secure a win which takes us within touching distance of promotion to Division One.
Unfortunately for us, Millwall are well and truly back in form, as they thumped Cambridge 5-1 at the Abbey. We now need them to lose one of their last two games if we are to take the championship, and even then we would need to win all three of ours. Although this is distinctly possible, it's starting to look like a battle between us and Rotherham for the runners-up spot. We both have tough fixtures at the weekend, but we'll be more confident facing Walsall at home than Rotherham will be at the JJB.
Alan Pardew started the game tonight with the same side that comfortably beat Bury 4-1 on Saturday, which meant that Anthony Rougier kept his place in for the injured Jim McIntyre. The rest of the side is looking increasingly settled, which must be a factor in our great form of late.
Oxford gave us an early sign of things to come, with a couple of shots that put the corner flag in greater danger than Phil Whitehead's goal. Reading struggled to get any possession in the opening spell of the game, as it took them some time to settle. Our first attack of any real conviction came on twenty minutes, and saw Jamie Cureton put us in the lead. Sammy Igoe broke down the right, and put a ball in towards the area. Martin Butler looked to go for it, but then dummied and allowed the ball to reach Jamie Cureton, whose first time finish was perfect. Cureton then did the same celebration he used for the winner against Bristol Rovers, but this time he was grinning in front of over two thousand Reading fans going mental.
Tony Rougier tried his hardest to make it 2-0, as one of his runs actually managed to get inside the penalty area. After beating two defenders, his shot was poor and the keeper saved comfortably. The look on Rougier's face afterwards shows how badly he needs a goal, after scoring just two all season.
Despite Reading looking the better side, it was Oxford who had the next two good chances. Shortly after Cureton's goal, a cross from the Oxford right found Joey Beauchamp, who headed just wide. It was a great opportunity for Oxford's best player, but he couldn't find the direction needed on his free header. Early in the second half, they had another great chance after an uncharacteristic mistake from Adi Viveash. Adi headed an Oxford cross backwards, and saw the ball fall in front an Oxford striker, who shot wide from about six yards out.
Fortunately for us, the two near-misses woke the team up a bit, and this chance was the last time the U's got near the Reading goal. The last half hour was all Reading, as our strikers were given some shooting practice. Cureton was again substituted, as Forster was given another chance to improve his match fitness. The introduction of Forster seemed to improve things, as it soon became clear he was twice as quick as any of the Oxford players.
Forster was clearly desperate for a goal, and he got one after a mistake from the Oxford keeper. However, much to everyone bemusement it was disallowed, as the officials obviously began to feel sorry for Oxford. The U's keeper Knight caught a cross, but fell awkwardly and dropped the ball. There was nobody near Knight and a foul was not given, but everyone seemed to pause as the keeper rolled about in pain. Forster seized his chance though, and rolled the ball in for what should have been number three. The referee gave the goal, but the linesman objected and the ref changed his mind. The only reason we could imagine was that it was disallowed for unsporting behaviour, even though no such rule exists!
Fortunately the decision wasn't vital as the game was already won, but Forster must have been gutted after seeing his first of the season disallowed. Reading had numerous chances afterwards as the holes in the Oxford defence became obvious. Somehow we failed to score any more, with Rougier, Forster and Butler all guilty of blazing over the bar.
Nobody was complaining at 2-0, and the win really puts the pressure on Rotherham.
Millwall can sit back and watch, as they have the weekend off to see if the
rest of us can keep up with them. Should Reading and Rotherham both win there
will be just two points between the three of us, but if The Millers lose we
can virtually seal promotion.
Report by Neil Cole
Post Match Opinions
I've never know such a large crowd so nervous before a game as witnessed
last night. The thousands of tremendous Royals fans all suffering terribly
with PMT... Pre Match Tension! This game however was thankfully not going
to be another Bournemouth nail biter. Once Jamie Cureton slotted home,
apart from a couple of moments for Oxford, we were always comfortable
and super Martin Butler made the points safe with yet another clinical
Well one down & three to go, the Royals promotion bandwagon roles
inexorably on. Our destiny is now truly in our own hands after another
solid if not inspired performance from the mighty Royals against a Oxford
side, who on this performance would struggle in the Conference. An all
round workmanlike performance with the almost obligatory strikes from
Cureton & Butler in each half to secure those vital 3 points. With Jamie
seemingly not to be denied reaching the magical 30 goal mark despite not
being allowed to finish a game these days, his disappointment on again
being subbed was almost tangible. With Fozz rapidly approaching full fitness,
Pardew would seem to have an abundance of striking riches to choose from.
Royals dominated in all areas with even the peristant Jones catching the
eye on occasions. The defensive abilities of Mattie Robinson remain a
concern, but he showed he was in the Easter spirit by supplying a number
of threatening crosses, which his fellow disciples failed to hammer home.
Rougiers approach play is adequate but his finishing……..! He couldn't
score in a brothel. Lets pray for better things. Special mention to cheerleader
elect Twizzel Hunter. But if you want to do it properly Barry you'll have
to get yourself a little short skirt & some pom-poms & I'm still not convinced
that all those shots into the crowd we're not in fact intended for goal!
So a good entertaining game which the irritating Steve Lodge did his best
to spoil with his petulant & high handed attitude. A word of advice for
the Oxford constabulary finely decked out in full riot gear. If you insist
in being confrontational eventually you will not be disappointed. We had
the lot yesterday, horses dogs helicopters & no doubt a water cannon lurking
in the shadows somewhere. For a moment I thought I was at an Orangeman
march & not a football match. Bring on the Poles! URRRRRRZZZZZS
We sang our hearts out and Barry Hunter entertained us with his pre
match ball skills. Nice to see Reading on non stop attack for last ten
minutes and not sitting back. Forster is fast, seems even faster than
before injury, just needs to calm down in front of goal. His desperation
to score is evident to us all. It'll come.
I arrived at this dreadful little hovel just in time for the half
time whistle so I haven't got a clue what happened in the first half except
apparently we score and they didn't. Second half we scored again and they
didn't, the difference being I actually saw this one. A fine finish by
Butler. They were absolutely crap which was good fun to watch. A very
subdued travelling support but very large. So another win and a 200 mile
round trip for 45mins of football. Was it worth it? You bloody bet it
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