MATCH REPORT: 2002/2003 Season

18 February 2003: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Reading: Forster (35 mins), Williams (72 mins), Forster (80 mins).
Sheffield United:
Brown (3 mins).
Half Time: 1-1
Attendance: 16,884

DIVISION ONE  18 Feb 2003
Pos Team P Pts GD
2 Leicester 32 65 +22
3 READING 32 55 +10
4 Sheff Utd 30 52 +12
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Williams, Brown, Shorey, Chadwick, Hughes, Harper, Sidwell, Salako (Tyson 63), Forster (Henderson 89). Subs not used: Watson, Mackie, Ashdown.
Sheffield United:
Kenny, Jagielka, Murphy, Page, Quinn, Javary (Cas 70), Brown, McCall, Tonge, Windass (Allison 37), Kabba (Peschisolido 64). Subs not used: Yates, Mooney.
Reading: Williams.
Sheffield United:
Ref: G Cain (Merseyside).

Sheffield United took the lead after just three minutes after Adrian Williams conceeded a free-kick on the edge of the box. The resulting kick flew into the back of the net after soaring over the wall and dipping into the top left corner of the net giving Hahnemann little chance. After taking the lead it was pretty much all one way traffic with the home side threatening to extend the lead. Another free-kick was just wide of the Hahnemann's right post and moments after that the Reading keeper needed to make a solid save to prevent United going further ahead. Reading's first attempt down the other end came after 15 minutes when Shorey hit one right across the face of goal that was well wide of the target.

After some more nervous moments down Reading's end the Royals eventually started to get into the game with Shorey again getting involved with a free-kick that needed a decent save as it dipped nicely under the crossbar. The resulting corner came to nothing but was certainly a relief from the pressure from the home side. Chadwick nearly found himself played through by Shorey as the defender enjoyed an excellent first half, with Reading enjoying a good spell on the attack. Moments later Reading had a chance to pull level when Forster won the ball deep in the opposition half and should have crossed to Hughes who was unmarked in the centre of the United area but instead he put in a weak shot straight to Kenny in the United goal.

Brown got another shot in on target for the home side before Reading were rewarded for their hard work to get back into the game. Reading equalised after Hughes did all the hard work with a great run forward, shrugging off a couple of players, and putting a shot into the area that was deflected out to Nicky Forster who was charging into the box. Forster made no mistake from closs range and stuck it home to make it 1-1 and pull Reading level.

Just before the half-time break a fast United attack saw the ball deflected over the Reading cross-bar for a corner as the ball was crossed in. The resulting corner was punched clear by Marcus Hahnemann. Shortly afterwards there was danger again for Reading as the home side finished the first half looking the stronger side when a cross narrowly missed a whole stack of Sheffield United players waiting for the ball at the far post. An entertaining first half with both sides capable of winning it in the second half.

Just after the restart Chadwick cut the ball back across the area, and Nicky Forster blasted a shot in towards the target which came back out off a United defender rather than finding the back of the net. Sheffield United managed a poor shot that flew well over the crossbar in a quieter start to the second half after a lively opening 45 minutes. Chadwick and Forster combined nearly getting a break through. Forster saw a shot saved moments after as Reading started to step up the pace of the half - but put the ball straight at the keeper giving him a simple save. Down the other end United failed to break through after falling foul to the Reading off-side trap.

Andy Hughes, having an excellent game for the Royals in midfield and looking very lively, nearly created a chance for himself after beating a man and getting a shot in. Unfortunately his effort was well wide of the target, steaming past the left side of the goal. On 63 minutes young Nathan Tyson replaced John Salako, who had had a decent but slightly quieter game, as Reading look to grab the winner. Tyson had a near immediate impact with an excellent powerful shot from the left side of the area, from distance, which needed to be pushed over the United crossbar.

With less than twenty minutes to go Reading took the advantage. Firstly Hughes got a shot in saved by the keeper and moments later Forster set up Hughes again whose shot was pushed over by the goalkeeper. A shot either side of the keeper and Reading would have been ahead. But it made no difference - from the resulting corner the ball came out to Adrian Williams who smashed it into the roof of the Sheffield United net to put Reading 2-1 up. With a win for Reading meaning they'll replace United in third place in the table the home side came straight into life and had the ball over the Reading goalline - but it was disallowed well before for offside.

United started to push forward and Reading took full advantage with Tyson playing a major part yet again. He skipped past Peschisolido down the left and was nearly hacked down, but instead he cut inside and pulled the ball back delivering it to Nicky Forster in the middle who drove it home to make it 3-1 to the Royals and surely put the game past United, who were favourites for the victory before the kick-off. A massive goal to put Reading two clear goals up!

Tyson's power down the left continued to create problems for the home side as Reading looked to move further ahead in the dying minutes. Forster nearly connected with another cross, and had he timed his run differently it might have been the fourth. With the ninety minutes all up Hughes nearly set up Sidwell with a cross but he missed it and it was offside anyway. However, the game was already well won. 3-1, an amazing result!!

thatcham royal
Has somebody been slipping me some mind altering substances, or are we 3rd? Did we really just beat Sheffield United, at Bramall Lane? Probably the toughest ground in the country for any visiting team this season. Just ask Liverpool, Leeds, Sunderland etc. All Premier League teams who lost there. Little old Reading turn up and bag all 3 points. There's no way I could have gone to the game, but listening to it on BBC Berks, we deserved the win. To come back after conceding so quickly and totally dominate the 2nd half beggars belief. Lets not talk about play offs or promotion, lets just savour this whole season. Lets enjoy what I think is our biggest win of the season. Lets now look forward to another big game, 3rd v 6th this weekend, and lets ALL make more noise than ever to get 3 more fantastic points. URZ's!!
nick newbury
Where do you start? It doesn't get much better than this I'm telling you! Any Royals fan who made the long trip north and were there tonight were rewarded by one of the most impressive performances by a Reading team for a very long time. One nil down after five minutes it certainly did look for us good but Hahnemann pulled off a world class save three minutes later which had huge effect on the game and apart from a nervous opening for fifteen minutes or so we never looked back from there on. Make no mistake, this was an awesome performance by Reading FC against a team flying this season and of course not forgetting who before the game were one place above us in third spot in the league. It really is very hard where to start with the adulation, Harper worked like a man possessed, Forster worked his socks off also and though not holding the ball up that well showed a lethal finishing prowess that will surely attract premiership clubs soon, Sidwell worked his socks off and looks a great signing, Chadwick, will prove to be another Upson, mark my words, just enjoy him while he's with us, Ade Williams had a stormer and capped it with the most wonderful finish for his goal and finally Nathan Tyson looked awesome when he came on, a star in the making no doubt. Not to mention the other Reading players is an injustice but they all played their part tonight and were heros to a man. The second half performance must rate as one of the best ever in recent years by a Reading team, it really was that good. So, now we are third in the league, bloody third, can you believe it! Just our luck to pick a season where it appears two teams seem unstoppable in their pursuit of the promised land that is the Premiership and taking automatic promotion. We really should make the play offs now, third time lucky? Oh no here we go again! But I tell you what, if we play like we did tonight, and we have the magnificent support from the loyal fans behind us like we did tonight, we not only can do it, but we should do it. Oh crazy days!!! So proud...
caversham royal
Most would've settled for a point from this one, and probably expected zero after going behind so early. But the team responded in emphatic fashion to chalk up a very impressive result. Having been very critical of Forster recently, even I can't deny he's more than justifying his place in the last 2 games with 3 well taken goals. And we now have someone in double figures!!! Never thought I'd see it this season.... Hughes too is someone showing more of his early season form and once more justifying the manager's obvious faith in him. Reading's pace, particularly on the break, seemed to be the decisive factor in the game and Tyson's run for goal 3 especially was a joy to see. Good stuff!!! Enough gushy compliments from me, and I can go back to moaning next time. On second thoughts, I hope not! COME ON...
tokyo royal
As the lone Royal in Japan I was huddled (again) around my PC at 5-30 am in Tokyo listening to the awesome performance from the boys. This is a special time and we should savour it. Thanks god for HNA and Reading World, just wish they would get amove on with the highlights so we can bask in the glory.I have already booked my flight back for the play off semis. Please don't make me cancel the trip.
michael james
I was not at the game but, listened to it on Reading 107 and what a great game it sounded. A brilliant win over Sheffield United and also Readings highest ever position. As said by Reading 107 although we finished 2nd once there were more teams in the Premier league so this is best ever position so far. Keep it up Reading you doing grand. Go on you Royals.....
We are doing better now than we did in 1995 at this point of the season.
Last night was a very proud evening for Reading FC. The team deserved it. We also deserved it because of the Royals support on a cold night in Yorkshire was just absolutely fantastic. Whatever happens form now until the end of the season we will look back on this night as a big watershed in the history of Reading FC. Keep the faith everyone for the remaining games.
west sussex royal
A business trip to Manchester? Sheffield's only an hour away. Yes please, I'll have some of that!
Firstly the support was MAGNIFICENT! We outsung the home fans completely. The Blue Army Chant towards the end of the first half either side of the goal was awesome and the singing throughout the 2nd half must have lifted the boys. The first twenty minutes we gave them too much respect. Kabba looked very quick and we looked slow and cumbersome at the back but suddenly we put them under some pressure and they didn't look so good and we never looked back.
The whole team played well even if Adie got some stick for giving the ball away and Marcus, please please sort out your kicking - it was woeful tonight. But all that's irrelevant. All the goals were taken well - Tys made a big difference when he came on as Salako again looked slightly off the pace.
We've finally won in Sheffield and without the talisman Darius. I've now seen wins at Palace, Brighton and now Sheff U. The last one was definitely the most impressive. This team looks incisive and a match for anyone in this league and the Rouge has finally gone out on loan. I never thought we would not miss Curo.
Can we sign Chadders now please?
darren hall
When the football league was formed way back in the 1800's a law was passed that "any team from Berkshire shall generally leaveth ye olde Bramhall Lane with no points". Well after 3 mins it looked like this tradition would be upheld and our trip to South Yorkshire would be as fruitful as Sunderland, Leeds and Liverpool's this season, as much chance of us getting anything from the game as Alex Ferguson being guest of honour at a Spice Girls reunion gig.... Yeah for the next 10-15 minutes the mighty Blades backed by their army of librarians (it was that quiet for most of the game in 3/4 of the ground, apart from the odd United...United, which is always a favourite of mine, as all us away fans have to do it insert SHIT between each chant, why do they do it? ), looked threatening, but the Super Royals were merely sparring with their fellow promotion rivals.
Witness the next 70 minutes of TOTAL FOOTBALL. We watched the lads first stir into life, then outplay, outfight and ultimately outclass one of the most consistent sides this season at any level and in their own back yard. Nick is right, we were awesome. I would go as far to say that that is the best combined display by a Reading midfield I have seen in almost 30 years of watching the R's. Fantastic, add to that the rock solid defence and Fozzy's constant threat, then this was truly a remarkable team performance. With Sidwell and Harper bossing the midfield, Hughsie running himself into the ground plus Chadwick and Salako (followed by Thierry Tyson) giving their fullbacks nightmares, I have never seen us dominate a game from the middle of the park like that before. It is a little unfair to single anyone out by Super Stevie Sidwell, a giant, simple & effective, rarely giving up possession, constantly breaking up their play and kick starting ours, imagine Vierra with ginger hair, a little shorter and with Michael Jackson's makeup artist, it was that kind of performance. Even Neil Warnock said we won at a canter, high praise indeed and what must King Alan made of it all from his lofty position in amongst the directors. "You've got Pardew in your end" we sang, well we outclassed them on the pitch, out sang them from the stands so it was only right that our main man took over one of their directors seats! I used to wonder how long it would take to get to the 50 point mark, on that showing I am now thinking, how far are we behind Pompey? Believe... URzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!
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