MATCH REPORT: 2007/2008 Season

20 September 2008: CHAMPSIONSHIP
Reading: Eustace (13 mins, og), Stephen Hunt (87 mins, pen.)
Watford: Smith (57 mins), O'Toole (64 mins).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 14,761

Pos Team P Pts GD
5 Bristol C 7 12 +6
6 READING 7 11 +6
7 Cardiff 6 11 +2
Reading: Hahnemann, Armstrong, Rosenior, Bikey, Pearce, Stephen Hunt, Kebe, Harper, Karacan, Doyle, Noel Hunt (Long 56). Subs Not Used: Federici, Convey, Ingimarsson, Kelly.
Watford: Poom (Loach 4), Mariappa, Bromby, DeMerit, Harley, Eustace, McAnuff (Ainsworth 34), Williamson, O'Toole (Bangura 78), Smith, Hoskins. Subs Not Used: Young, Jenkins.
Reading: Karacan, Armstrong, Long, Bikey.
Watford: O'Toole, Harley.
Ref: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire).
Reading and Watford shared the points at Vicarage Road this weekend after a game that grabbed national sporting headlines due to a goal that wasn't anywhere close to being a goal. The freak goal was awarded to the Royals, after thirteen minutes, when the linesman flagged when he judged the ball to have crossed the line - several yards away from the goal itself. Stephen Hunt swung a corner in from the right that was blocked by a defender in the middle and came back out wide to Noel Hunt who whipped the ball back in. It was questionable if the ball had crossed the line - if it had then Reading should have won a corner. Instead play continued with Bikey sending in a good effort on goal until eventually the linesman got the referee's attention. After a pitch side debate the referee gave the goal much the amazement of both sets of players, fans, and eventually the wider sporting world watching replays.

It was a crazy moment that altered the game dramatically. However it wasn't the only moment of madness after Reading were denied a perfectly good goal in the second half that would have pulled them level after two legitimate Watford goals after the break. The Royals eventually did pull level at 2-2 after Long was taken down in the area and Stephen Hunt dispatched the penalty. On another day the final score might also have been 2-2 but Reading's goals might have come in a different manner.

I felt cheated on Saturday. Not because of the clowns who were the officials kindly giving us a goal and not because we didn't have the decency to say: "No, that's quite alrght, we really don't want it..." I feel cheated that we didn't actually stuff Watford as we deserved to. We should have been 3 up in the first ten mins. Bikey's header should have been allowed and there was a more blatant penalty shout in the last couple of minutes. Sod it. RFC should ask for a replay. We'll get the brownie points off of everyone from the numbskulls at the FA, Watford fans and footy in general.... and then we'll get three points instead of one. Or am I dreaming and delusional?
Dick Habbin's hairdo

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Watford were denied a win by a late penalty - and a farcical decision to allow an earlier goal to stand. Linesman Nigel Bannister flagged for a Reading goal instead of a corner after John Eustace challenged Noel Hunt and, incredibly, a goal was awarded. Watford's Tommy Smith fired into the roof of the net and John-Joe O'Toole smashed home to put the Hornets ahead. But Reading salvaged a point when Stephen Hunt scored from the penalty spot after being fouled by Eustace. Reading's opener, which has been officially recorded as an own goal by Eustace, will go down as one of the strangest goals ever.
BBC Sport

The youngest referee to have officiated in the Barclays Premier League is in hot water after his role in what is being described as the worst decision of all time... Atwell allowed Reading’s opening goal in their 2-2 draw with Watford at Vicarage Road after Nigel Bannister, an assistant referee, flagged for a goal. Bannister and Attwell failed to spot that the ball crossed the byline and not the goalline after a challenge between John Eustace, the Watford midfield player, and Noel Hunt, the Reading striker. Reading players did not appeal for the “goal”, but that did not stop Attwell giving Steve Coppell’s team a 1-0 lead. Paul Rejer, of the Professional Game Match Officials Board, has said that Bannister will receive advice about his responsibilties this week. “It appears an error has been made and it will be reviewed,” Rejer said. “The assistant gave what he saw and if it is incorrect we will give him operational advice. From his position and angle it appeared the ball had crossed the line for a goal.” Adrian Boothroyd, the Watford manager, was sent to the stands for complaining about the decision. “The linesman decided it was a goal,” he said afterwards. “I asked him about it and he said it was an optical illusion.”
The Times

WATFORD boss Aidy Boothroyd was furious Reading's opening goal was allowed to stand on Saturday - even though the ball did NOT go in. The Royals were gifted a 13th minute lead when hapless linesman Nigel Bannister wrongly decided that Hornets star John Eustace had deflected Stephen Hunt's corner into his own goal. In fact, the ball went THREE YARDS wide of the target. Hunt described it as "probably the worst decision I've ever witnessed in football". And Boothroyd was left fuming with Bannister's decision. He said: “It was a like a UFO had landed - I am bemused."
The Sun