(Half Time: 1-1)
Reading Scorers: Caskey (24 mins)
York City Scorers: Agnew (30), Alcide (88), Iwelumo (90).
Date: 19 December 2000
Attendance: 6,968

Reading: Whitehead, Newman, Viveash, Mackie (Hunter), Robinson, Caskey, Jones (Smith), Parkinson, Rougier, Butler, Hodges. Subs not used: Cureton, Igoe, Howie.

York City: Fettis, Thompson, Potter, Sertori, Bower, Patterson, Hulme (Jordan), Agnew, McNiven (Alcide), Iwelumo, Mathie. Subs not used: Collinson, Turley, Stamp.

Bookings:  Rougier, Viveash, Whitehead (Reading); Agnew (York).
Referee: P Walton (Idiot)

Reading's hopes of a day out at Leicester in January in round three of the FA Cup disappeared in a bizarre couple of minutes at the end of this match. Despite having almost all the ball for almost all of the game and creating almost all of the chances, York City went through thanks to two offside goals right at the end when it looked like the game was going to go to extra time. Reading were the only team in it for most of the game, but after having failed to take their chances York needed the referee to intervene and award the game to the third division underdogs. York can take credit for a solid defensive performance as Reading looked for a way through throughout the entire second half - their keeper was probably man of the match as he kept the Reading attack out. However every one of the 150 or so travelling supporters must admit they couldn't have done it without the referee. With the score at 1-1 and a couple of minutes to go both goals were clearly offside, and the first was clearly offside twice in the one move as York broke forward following constant Reading pressure.

After Caskey's performance as substitute at Notts County he earned a recall to the starting eleven with Cureton back on the bench, and with Rougier and Butler up front Reading quickly went about looking like the team from the higher division. Reading looked calm and relaxed and for a while it looked like York might have come to just hold out as long as they could against a team hot favourites for victory. After passing the ball around and bit, and with York playing it defensive, Reading took the lead six minutes before the half hour. Viveash played the ball out from within the Reading half to Rougier down the right wing, Rougier strode forward and looked to cross with Butler racing in looking for the ball. The cross came, but it was much further back, and there was Darren Caskey to stick his leg onto it and send it flying into the back of the net to make it 1-0 to the Royals. And at that moment it only looked like there could be one result. Cue songs about playing Millwall on a Tuesday night, and if you're all going to Leicester clap your hands.

On the half hour the referee made one in a series of bizarre decisions, awarding a free kick to York on the right well inside the Reading half for no obvious reason. The free-kick was pumped into the Reading box, came out to the edge of the area and was driven in with some serious velocity into the top of the net giving Whitehead no chance in the Reading goal. York's first and only shot of the first half - but the equaliser. 1-1.

Reading pushed forward again and it still looked like there could be only one outcome, despite the scores being level. Reading relaxed again to start playing it around all over the park waiting for the right moment to break through and have a go on goal. This was probably our biggest mistake as time kept ticking by and York continued to be level. Having said that we could have easily gone in ahead at the break. Even before we'd scored we could have had a penalty after a handball from a York defender inside the area - the referee chose to ignore that one though. Martin Butler could have scored after being delivered the ball by Lee Hodges on the edge of the box to go one on one with the goalkeeper. Not for the last time the keeper came off best - Butler took it forward and shot, but the keeper got down quickly to his left to push it wide and out of play.

Rougier looked to have scored after the ball dropped in the area from a free-kick from Newman, he seemed to lose where it was, before finding it again and snapping it into the net. The whole East Stand were on their feet - but unfortunately the referee had spotted the ball hit Rougier's arm when it dropped into the box.

The second half continued much the same with Reading much on top and having all of the ball. York always looked capable of troubling Hunter up front who had come on for Mackie at the break - but they were unable to provide their forward men with any service as Reading camped out in the York half looking for a goal or two. For a long period of the half Reading won corner after corner that were pumped into the York box - but York packed out the area and their keeper continued to come to the rescue to keep them in the game. Martin Butler had a couple of chances that he failed to take - sending a couple over the bar when he should have done better with. And once again the keeper got the better of him as Butler was released into the area. The keeper dived at his feet, Butler went flying, but it was no penalty - just a superb claim from the keeper. Jones had a decent shot after the ball was crossed to the left, but Jones' close range shot, probably the highlight of his evening, was well saved by the keeper yet again.

Despite most of the play being in the last third of the pitch Viveash reserved some applause from the home crowd by a nice crunching tackle on York's Hulme - returning the treatment after Hulme was rightly sent off in the first attempt at this tie for a disgusting challenge on Viveash. Viveash picked up a yellow card, but I'm sure he'll think it was worth it. Again following on from the first half Rougier had a goal disallowed after running free from the defence. After a nice bit of skill he drove it past the keeper from just inside the box. The ref had already blown for offside and booked Rougier for his troubles. That offside decision was far closer than the ones to follow which were to cost Reading dearly. Newman almost scored with a long range effort that beat everyone apart from the York keeper once again and then Reading followed it up with a whole load of more corners, but without getting it on target.

And so the game entered the last five minutes. With the game at 1-1 and Reading having all the play it seemed inevitable that York would somehow win the match - that's typical Reading. What followed was an amazing show of poor quality refereeing that cost Reading extra time and possibly a trip to Premiership Leicester. With two minutes to go York played the ball forward from right to left inside the Reading half - it was clearly offside but play continued. Two York players legged it forward to take on Whitehead, and rather than drive it home they took it right into the box and, with just Whitehead in their way, played it forward to the spare man in the middle of the area who sidefooted it home. Offside two twice in a couple of seconds, and clearly not a goal. Well clear to nearly seven thousand people in the ground - but not the referee. 1-2.

If that wasn't stupid enough it happened again as the game entered injury time. The ball was played forward with just Whitehead and Iwelumo for York inside the Reading half. The flag bizarrely stayed down, the referee way behind the play failed to question it and Whitehead and Iwelumo both legged it towards the spare ball. As Whitehead charged out of his box the players arrived at almost the game time, but the ball hit Iwelumo last and spun the wrong direction - rolling slowly into the back of the Reading net. 1-3.

On the balance of play Reading should have never lost this game. However the referee shouldn't take all the credit for the result - despite fixing it. York came as massive outsiders and worked hard to keep Reading out - their keeper was blinding. Even without the final five minutes of this tie York might have snatched it on the break in extra time. Reading should look at a whole series of missed chances and our complete inability to score goals against a third division side that had already conceeded 32 goals in the league this season. Reading have now lost four out of the last seven games and won just two - and that's not promotion form.

Following report from Neil Cole:

Reading's attack, which has been so lethal for most of this season, lost its edge against 3rd Division York, as the Royals were knocked out of the F.A. Cup despite dominating this 2nd round replay. The chances mounted up throughout the game, but Reading simply couldn't finish off the battling York, who eventually won the game thanks to two very late goals.

Chairman John Madejski will today be counting the cost of missing out on another lucrative cup tie. He saw our chances of two games against Newcastle disappear after a dreadful home defeat to Leyton Orient in the Worthington Cup earlier this season. It was the same story today, as York won the prize of a trip to Leicester City in early January. Madejski had spoken before the game of this game being "vital" to Reading's bank balance, with the chairman eyeing up the possibility of a replay and a packed Madejski Stadium. Instead, he will have to be content with the knowledge that Millwall also lost tonight, so the crucial Division Two match can go ahead as planned on Saturday January 6th. This fixture should pack the Stadium, and has the potential to be first Reading F.C. sell-out at the new ground.

Alan Pardew again decided to change the team and the tactics for tonight's match, following the defeat at Notts County on Saturday. He started with a 4-4-2, with Tony Rougier partnering Martin Butler up front. Darren Caskey returned to the side, at the expense of Jamie Cureton who was back on the sub's bench.

The decision to play Rougier in a front two has to be questioned. It is blatantly obvious that he is not a centre forward, since he is rarely to be seen inside the opposition's box. Rougier's talent can be seen when he plays wide, since his pace, strength and trickery are his greatest assets. Although Rougier played well at Notts County and tonight, he did not do the job of a centre forward, leaving Butler on his own too many times.

Pardew's treatment of Jamie Cureton has also been unacceptable. Cureton was dropped while in good form, simply to allow Pardew to adopt a more defensive approach in away games. This clearly shattered his confidence, and Cureton has not been the same since he was first dropped at Wigan earlier in the season.

The game itself started well for Reading, and the Royals were in the lead within 25 minutes of the first half. Some good work from Rougier on the right followed by an accurate pass into the box allowed Darren Caskey to fire in the first goal.

However, as had happened at Bootham Crescent, Reading allowed York to get back into the game shortly afterwards. A City corner found its way to Steve Agnew, who struck the ball superbly past Phil Whitehead. It was another excellent goal from York, and was enough to stop Reading from building on their early lead.

It could have been different though, if Butler had taken a golden chance which fell to him before half-time. Sent through on goal, Butler was unable to beat the keeper with his shot, who got enough on the ball to slow it right down and allow a York defender to clear from the goal-line. Keith Jones showed today he is willing to have a go at goal, but his two first half efforts were both narrowly wide. Reading also saw a Rougier goal disallowed, in a good quality first half.

The second half was again dominated by Reading. Butler had another good chance early on, but could only fire his snapshot over the bar from close range. Jones also had another effort well saved by the York keeper after he had latched onto a Caskey cross. The best effort of the half came from Ricky Newman, whose 30-yard effort swerved viciously before being well saved again by the City goalie.

It seemed the game was heading into extra time, when York suddenly got a goal from nowhere. A through ball found two York strikers looking suspiciously offside, but both the referee and his assistant allowed play to carry on. It was a simple goal for York, and one which infuriated the Reading players and fans. The referee had been poor all evening, and the decision to allow the goal effectively knocked Reading out of the cup.

With only injury time remaining, Reading threw everyone forward. The third goal was largely irrelevant, coming as a result of the entire Reading defence getting forward in an attempt to find an equaliser.

Its "concentrate on the league" time now, as Reading once again disappoint in the cup. Another shocking home defeat to a lower league side can only be put right by league success. This has to start on Saturday, with anything other than a win at home to Luton unacceptable.

Post Match Opinions

Never have I been to a match where the final score so misrepresented the play on the pitch.
The balance of play is shown by the fact we must have had at least a dozen corners against Yorks two. After a scrappy first half Reading played a lot better in the second and started to look a division higher. We spent long periods in Yorks half of the pitch and it only seemed a matter or time before we scored a couple more to wrap the game up. There were however one or two mildly anxious moments towards the end of the game when York finally managed to break out of their half and I thought how terrible it would be if they scored. Then I thought to myself why worry, after all York had hardly created a chance throughout the whole game and even then what little threat they posed was soon delt with by the Reading defence.
However I had not allowed for such bizare offside decisions.
I appreciate that offside is a difficult thing to judge as the linesman has to watch the ball being kicked and at the same time keep an eye on defenders moving out as forwards move up, in addition he may also be unsighted. However I cannot believe that every single time he flagged against Reading that our player (usually Rougier or Butler) was offside. In a staggering display of inconsistancy the other linesman then allowed two goals that were clearly offside, absoultely unbelievable. The only visiting player to emerge with any credit was their goalkeeper who made some fine saves.
With luck like this York will win the cup.

-- Adam Kirkwood

Question - Why do 6968 fans turn out to watch Reading play a poor third division team in a FA Cup replay just 6 days before Christmas Answer - Because they care for the club. Well could someone tell the Players and Management, last nights performance was simply not good enough. Enough chances were created to win with ease, even before the dubious York second goal. Yet none converted. The only passion the players displayed last night was surrounding the referee at the final whistle. What use is that ? What us fans require is commitment, pride and passion. Unless this reappears quickly, Reading will spend the remainder of this season struggling and next season in the 2nd Division. A win on Saturday is a must, otherwise good bye to promotion and the 10,000 plus crowds.
-- Rob S

I didn't think either of Yorks late goals were offside and if they were it was close. Viveash (or maybe Hunter) was way behind the rest of the defence for the first one and tried to step up, but I thought too late. When one forward passed it (badly) to the other I thought the recipient was behind the ball when it was played. For the second I thought he was in his ownhalf when the ball was played - what was Newman ( or Robinson) doing trying to step up ? I think in both cases if the last defender had concentrated on getting the ball rather than stepping up we would still be in the cup. All stepping up does is pass the responsibility to the linesman/ref and then everyone can blame them. It was just crap defending!
Having said that, how the ref gave the free kick for York's first goal, I've no idea - Viveash jumped and headed the ball whilst a forward was backing into him and not going for the ball.

-- Alan Prudden

There have got to be questions asked about the referee and linesman on the way they completley fixed this game with some bizzare and outragous decisions but surley Alan Pardew has to take some of the blame for the tactics we dipayed throughout the 90 minutes of this game. One can only assume that Pards has such a strong friendship with Jones from his days at Charlton that he finds it impossible to drop him even though the majority of fans can't understand why he is even in the squad yet alone the starting 11. When will he learn that you need some creativity in midfield and not two holding players which is the tactic he seems to prefer. I have watched all but two games this season and although some excellent results we seem to be resulting to long ball tactics as we have not got the strength and creativity to pass the ball through our midfield. Going back to the game, Yes we deserved to win and but for the ref we would have, but why did we fail to break down a team lying within the lower regions of division 3 within the 90 minutes. If Jamie Cureton had entered the game at an earlier stage there is no doubt in my mind that we would have run out comfortable winners. But instead of bringing him on for the lackluster Jones, Neil Smith was brought on instead witch only shows me that Alan Pardew has not got the tactical knowledge to suceed in this division.
-- Simon Thrussell

A comment on the above game - it was my 1st visit to a Reading home match, I was taken by a work colleague, mainly because I wanted to see the stadium. Good job really, as the scrappy affair on the pitch wasn't worth the admission fee! I'm not sure I agree totally with the match reports - I felt York gave a very good account of themselves, particularly in the 1st half. After 1/2 time, Reading created a handful of very good chances - and should have taken the game then. However, and I can say this as a neutral in the ground, I have NEVER seen such abysmal performances from 3 officials in all my years at various matches. What I couldn't believe was the one linesman, or referee's assistant, or whatever they are called this month, would flag offside for EVERYTHING (he probably couldn't run fast enough to keep up - so flagged to slow everything down), whilst the other didn't flag for a single thing (I can only assume he hasn't read the pages regarding offsides in the rulebook). Sorry FA - but you have GOT to start looking at TV replays! I have to say - that although I thought Reading lacked any shape or structure - and let down their fans by their performance, that they can feel hard-done-by. I would not be surprised if the ref had a tenner riding on it. Anyway - Reading - you must get some shape, especially in midfield, if you want to push for promotion in the league! Chase balls down, and when a cross doesn't come off, attack the 2nd phase ball. There is NO SUCH THING as a lost cause until the final whistle blows.
-- Martin Mottershead

After that second goal by York that was clearly off-side, the Royals should have walked off the pitch in protest! Something needs to be done about these bias officials, and while they're allowed to get on with it, they will always be around. I know it's all to easy to blame the ref., but this was blatant "selective refereeing".
-- Steve Sturges

I struggled through the usual rush hour traffic down the M4 to get to the match and I wished I hadn't bothered.
Its no good blaming the referee for the result we should have had a enough goals that it didnt matter. Lets face it with the team Pardew has we should have easliy beaten a team in the bottom half of the third division. The only good decision was to start Caskey who is streets ahead of Jones in quality. Why leave it so late to bring on Cureton perhaps he is out of favour with Pardew unlike Jones who hasnt done nothing since he came yet continues to be picked for the team.
If we struggle against teams like York I cant see us gaining promotion. When are we going to have a team thats shows consistency a team you can be proud to support. Their is something radically wrong and Pardew needs to sort it quick hopefully starting on Saturday against Luton.

-- John D

I really do not understand how anyone could try and claim that York's second goal was onside and I would like to know where Alan Prudden was sitting in the ground. The time has come where referees (and their assistants) should be made to face punishment for their behaviour just as players and managers are each week. I honestly thought that I had seen some awful officials in my time supporting Reading, but this man should never be allowed to referee a professional match again.
In terms of the team performance, I think that some of the commentators have been slightly harsh considering the negative tactics employed by York. I think the lads showed commitment in the circumstances and only Alan Fettis kept York in the game. However, Pardew does have some questions to answer. Why does he systematically alienate his best players? Caskey has got to be one of our greatest assets and showed insight last night with some of the balls he played (especially those from the centre of the pitch, funnily enough). However, it seems that we are going to have to make the most of him while we still have him this season. How can it be economically justifiable to lose a quality player for no fee and be forced to buy another, rather than renewing Caskey's contract? Cureton was so important earlier in the season because of his confidence in front of goal (something which seemed to be lacking on Tuesday). This has been well and truly hammered out of him by Pardew repeatedly leaving him out of the team. Rougier has a great deal of pace and skill, which is wasted when he runs into big centre backs as he was forced to against York. It seems to me that Pardew is extremely good at picking a team during an injury crisis, but has no idea at all when he has a fully fit squad of the calibre available to him now.

-- Ian

Got an Opinion?
Comment on this, or any Royals match - email opinion@royals.cx
Appropriate submissions will appear on match report pages!

HNA? Home Page
Copyright Hob Nob Anyone? © 1994-2000
The Original Reading Football Club Internet Site