(Half Time: 0-1)
Reading Scorers: Cureton (20 mins), Butler (71 mins).
Oxford United Scorers: -
Date: 17 April 2001
Attendance: 6,886

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)
Referee: S J Lodge (Barnsley)

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 finish.
What a pair of strikers they are, we're always score goals with them in the team. I've always thought it was going to be the strength of our squad that will see us gain promotion and it looks like that may well be the case. Many think Pardew is wrong pulling Cureton off every game after an hour, I don't. The way Forster came on last night and injected new pace and chances for the last half hour is a tremendous asset to the side. If it were me, I'd start all three on Saturday.
It was a good solid professional performance last night with Keith Jones yet again putting in a great game and making all those previous knockers choke on their humble pie. Ade "Colossus" Viveash looked very subdued last night but along side him Ade Whitbread put in another outstanding performance. What a signing he has been, we've just lost once since he joined us, is a great leader and must be top of Pards shopping list for next year. Rooster Robinson continues to run up his arse all the time and has joined the Twizzle Academy of Passing, he now appears not able to pass the ball to a hoops shirt more than two feet away and his suspension on Saturday may prove a blessing.
Good 'ol Twizzle Hunter even got in on the act by finding his true vacation in life as a cheer leader! Top man! How about a short skirt and a pair of pom poms on saturday Bazza?
As has been said many times before we can only chuck it away now, Walsall will be hard but nothing we cannot beat. Remember back in November when we played them off the park for the first half up there, we're cheated by another tosser of a ref who disallowed a perfectly good Butler goal and denied us a definite penalty at the end? Walsall went top of the league and gave us loads of stick with "we are top of the league" etc... well ,lets get some sweet revenge on Saturday and give them a good tonking! Come on!

-- Nick Newbury

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
-- Lobby, Newbury

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.
-- David

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 was.
-- Russ, Essex Royal.

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