(Half Time: 0-2)
Reading Scorers: Butler (3 mins), Cureton (45 mins)
Oldham Scorers: -
Date: 20 February 2001
Attendance: 4,160

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

Oldham: Kelly, Rickers, McNiven, Garnett, Hotte (Holt), Eyres, Duxbury, Sheridan, Carss, Corazzin (Dudley), Allott (Tipton). Subs not used: Miskelly, Boshell.

Bookings: Butler, Caskey, Parkinson, Whitbread.
Referee: J T Winter (Stockton-on-Tees)

Another professional and resilient performance earned Reading their fourth win in five games, as Oldham were comfortably beaten at Boundary Park. While the game was far from spectacular, the Royals did everything they needed to and a good team performance secured three massive points. Elsewhere, defeats for Wigan and Bristol City saw us move up to fifth in the table, and close the gap on the top two to just six points.

There were a couple of changes to the team that beat Brentford and drew with Peterborough. After failing a fitness test, Adi Viveash was replaced at centre-back by Barry Hunter. There was also a surprise recall for Keith Jones, as Caskey moved to the right of midfield and Sammy Igoe was dropped. Pardew continued with Newman and Murty as full-backs, with Matt Robinson continuing on the bench.

There was another excellent away following from the Royals, as 500-600 made the long trip up to Oldham, particularly good for a freezing cold Tuesday night. They were rewarded with a very good first half performance from Reading, and the first goal came after only three minutes of the match. Martin Butler picked up a Darren Caskey through ball, and came under no pressure from the Oldham defence as he tried to find an opening. After turning well, he shot low and the Latics keeper could only parry the ball into the net. The shot wasn't Butler's best, but with the keeper moving the other way it took him by surprise and put the Royals into a valuable early lead.

Oldham seemed shocked by the goal, and were completely overwhelmed by Reading in the first half hour of the game. Butler was causing all sorts of problems with his non-stop running, and was linking up well with Jamie Cureton. Several chances were wasted, as first Cureton fired wide from close range, and then Caskey fired a shot the wrong side of the far post.

Oldham did have a brief spell of pressure, and looked to exploit our obvious weakness at right-back as Murty had a poor half. All of Oldham's attacks came from their left, but sound performances by Whitbread and Hunter stopped the Latics from finding any real opening. Parkinson had an unusually poor game, and mis-timed a number of challenges in the first half. He gave away one free-kick right on the edge of the area, and was lucky not to be booked. His luck continued, as Oldham could only fire the free-kick straight at the Reading wall.

Towards half-time, Reading had a glorious chance, after Butler was again given loads of time and space by the generous Oldham defence. He ran into the box and pulled it back to Cureton, who wasted the chance by firing his shot straight at the keeper. Butler knocked the rebound in, but was ruled offside. Cureton made up for the miss on the stroke of half-time though, as he scored Reading's second. A lay-off from Butler was perfectly timed to meet Cureton's run, and he beat the defender and finished superbly.

This was the last action of a first half which Reading had dominated, and thoroughly deserved the two goal lead. After putting so much into the first half, the second period was understandably quieter. As Butler and Cureton tired, the emphasis was on defence as we tried to contain any threat Oldham might have. The back four remained solid, and Murty improved in the second half. Jones and Parkinson both played good defensive roles, and an effective second half stopped Oldham from having a single shot on target. Oldham made a double substitution to try and exploit the tiring Reading legs. However, in truth they looked a very poor team and still failed to find any opening.

The only Reading chances came on the counter-attack, as Cureton tried to exploit the gaps that were appearing in the Oldham defence as they pushed forward. His best chance followed a clever ball from defence that put him through, but Cureton took too long over the shot and was denied by an excellent last ditch tackle.

The last ten minutes were ruined by a bizarre spell of refereeing from Jeff Winter, who completely lost control of the game. He wouldn't let the game flow at all, and only managed to increase the tension between the players by blowing for a number of silly fouls. As the two teams nearly came to blows, the tackles started to get nasty towards the end and Reading somehow had four players booked in the last nine minutes of the game. Whitbread and Caskey were booked for fouls, Parky for unsporting behaviour and Butler for dissent. Oldham somehow escaped any punishment, even though a couple of their players were clearly responsible for the scenes at the end.

This was a unnecessary end to a very successful night for the Royals, as a second away win in a row moves us back into the top five. The team are starting to show real determination to succeed, and 13 points from the last five games is a great return. With our away form on the up, we can be optimistic about the trip to Swansea on Saturday.

Report by Neil Cole

Post Match Opinions

I missed Brentford away last week, but if it was as conclusive as this performance we should expect to pick up quite a few more away points this season. Reading played the classic away game, soak up home pressure and then hit them hard on the break. In fact it could quite easily been 3 or 4 at the interval, as the Reading attack carved out a good few chances and had one attempt ruled out offside. Oldham were a useful side that passed well and pushed the ball wide often, but never really endangered the central defenders. Hunter played better than I expected and looked comfortable next to Whitbread, Murty continued his good form since returning to the side. Butts and Jamie are still working well together and both really should of converted a few more of the chances they created. I know I'm happy with our 4 points from this weeks games, even though we gained them in the opposite way to what I expected.
-- Steve, York.

Great pleasure in reporting a tremendous performance last night from the Royals. This really did see us back at our best and although we could easily have scored more and sat back a bit in the second half , the overall performance was a solid professional job well done.
The defence were outstanding . In recent games I've slaughtered Barry Hunter and not been too kind on Ricky Newman . Last night they were both outstanding , showing what they really are capable of , the tackles and headers they won were awesome .When we realised Ade Viveash was not playing there were a few worries on how we may fair without " Colossus " , but we need not have worried with also Whitbread turning in great performance . Only " his he alive" Murty was found wanting a few times by being skinned quite few times , but he too played his socks off . Surely Murty must play wide in midfield .
As for the rest of the team , without exception they worked their bollocks off to a man . Parky once again led from the front and in the process received a thump from Sheridan which we all saw except the gormless blind linesman . Caskey worked like I haven't seen all season and Butler and Cureton often ripped the Oldham defence to shreds.
Quite quietly we've crept back into the frame for that second spot again , with the games in hand and a vital run of fixtures against our main opponents coming up the next four weeks will probably decide our fate . If we perform and more importantly work like we did last night we can only succeed . Well done Reading FC last night, a credit to the superb following of loyal Royals who made the long trip last night . The bonus afterwards was beer at 1.35 a pint in the Oldham supporters club!

-- Nick Newbury

I am an Oldham supporter and I was appauled at the referee. Do you agree? I would also like to comment on the amount of fouls you made on our players without being booked. Thanks for reading.
-- Adam Alderson

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