MATCH REPORT: 2003/2004 Season

21 February 2004: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Reading: Goater (8 mins).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 8,600

DIVISION ONE 21 Feb 2004
Pos Team P Pts GD
7 Sunderland 30 48 +8
8 READING 31 48 -3
9 Millwall 31 47 +6
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Ingimarsson, Newman, Hughes, Sidwell, Harper, Salako (Murray 89), Goater (Kitson 77), Owusu. Subs not used: Savage, Morgan, Young.
Bossu, James, Ashby, Leon Johnson, Hills, Pouton (Sidibe 45), Smith, Hessenthaler, Spiller, Agyemang, Wallace (Tommy Johnson 69 (Southall 75). Subs not used: Rose, Crofts.
Reading: Hughes, Newman.
Referee: R Styles (Portsmouth)

Shaun Goater made it six goals from seven games and the Royals made it three wins from four as they reclaimed eighth place in the table with a 1-0 victory at Gillingham. Goater scored the only goal of the game after just eight minutes when he made the most of some poor home goalkeeping. A long ball forward saw neither the defence or keeper claim the ball and Goater lobbed the ball over the keeper to put Reading ahead. Reading had got off to a much better start with Salako forcing the Gillingham keeper into a good save in the opening five minutes. Gillingham probably should have pulled level later in the half after Ingimarsson took down a player inside the area. The resulting penalty was well saved by Marcus Hahnemann who made a couple of other decent saves to keep Reading ahead.


This was the first away game I've been to in many years. The day started well in the Livingston Arms with the Royals fans in good voice. Good beer and a good atmosphere. Unfortunately, during the match, I had to sit with the Gillingham fans but the Royals fans were still outsinging them. Terrific support, although why we can't sing like that at home I just don't know.
The game was not the best to watch but it was a thoroughly professional and solid away performance from the Boys, particularly after the Rotherham fiasco. Goater took his goal superbly, taking advantage of some pretty awful defending. Midfield looked as solid as I have seen it for some time and Goat and Owusu were a real handful up front. The defence had a bit of a torrid time in the first half, especially towards half time. Second half was totally different. Gillingham never really looked like scoring (apart from one glaring miss). I thought Kitson did okay during his 15 minutes on the pitch, showed plenty of strength and enthusiasm. My man of the match was probably Sidwell. He controlled the midfield with some really robust tackling and his distribution was much better than of late. Marcus had another solid game between the posts and his penalty save was top class. He didn't really have anything to do in the second half.
I have to say that despite all the recent criticism of Coppell (much of it unfounded in my opinion), the tactics he employed on Saturday were spot on. Gillingham were the better side in the first half, but second half was totally Reading. He sorted them out in midfield and all the defence had to do was sweep up anything that got through. I only hope that we repeat this performance on Tuesday against Burnley and use this as a platform for the run in to the play-offs. All is not lost yet!
Tunbridge Wells Loyal Royal.

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