MATCH REPORT: 2003/2004 Season

21 October 2003: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Reading: -
Samways (4 mins).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 11,225

DIVISION ONE 21 Oct 2003
Pos Team P Pts GD
8 Millwall 15 23 +4
9 READING 14 21 +4
10 Nottm F 13 20 +9
Reading: Hahnemann, Shorey, Brown (Savage 84), Williams, Newman (Tyson 63), Murray, Sidwell, Harper, Salako, Goater, Forster. Subs not used: Watson, Ashdown, Daley.
Walker, Vincent, Ritchie, Roper, Baird, Osborn (Lawrence 79), Emblen (Matias 82), Samways (Hay 87), O'Neil, Birch, Wrack. Subs not used: Corica, Fryatt.
Reading: Sidwell.
Referee: Michael Ryan (Preston)

Last season Walsall provided us with the two dullest games of the season and this evening's encounter will surely rank as one of the worst games of the season - I hope. Surely Reading will not perform as badly as this again at home. Hahnemann was again guilty of an appalling error of judgement to present Walsall with a goal after four minutes and Reading had chances to get back into the game, most of which fell to Forster who is still struggling to regain his best form. The play-offs look a very ambitious target at the moment.

Reading started brightly and in a positive mood. Salako looked as if he sees the arrival of a new manager as his opportunity to stake a claim for a place in the starting line up. There was spring in his step that I haven't seen since he came here on loan and was playing for permanent contract. The referee made a string of very poor decisions in the first half which did not help Reading's cause but he could not be blamed for Reading conceding a soft goal after four minutes. That responsibility lies with Hahnemann. He was surprised by Samways free kick. I put it down to poor positioning as much as anything else, it was hardly a fiercely driven free-kick!

Things just seemed to go from bad to worse. Forster kept straying offside. Murray could not get past his man to get crosses in, choosing instead to drift inside and get lost in the tightly packed Walsall defence. Harper held on to the ball too long or simply lost possession with sloppy passing or through running into trouble. I can't remember a shot on target until the thirty-fifth minute when Salako forced a save from Walker. Reading struggled to find any way of breaking down a well organised but uninspiring Walsall. As early as the fifth minute the Walsall 'keeper was wasting time, as I seem to remember he did last season. It was something that the inept referee didn't spot until late in the second half. The first clear opening came when Sidwell cut out a pass on the halfway line and slipped a good ball through to Forster who had a clear sight of goal but Walker made a good save which everyone saw except the referee who gave a goal kick when it was clearly a corner.

I felt that a change was needed to freshen things up but the only change I thought worth making was to replace Harper with Watson. Watson moves the ball around with greater speed and accuracy and that might have been enough to stretch a Walsall defence that really looked comfortable most of the time. However the same eleven resumed the struggle at the start of the second half.

Within the first ten minutes of the second half, Forster had three opportunities to get the Royals back into the game. One shot was blocked the other two chances were lost due to a poor touch. Goater set him up well on the edge of the box. It was a routine training situation - one touch and shoot. Unfortunately his first touch took the ball to a Walsall defender. The other chance was lost when a heavy second touch took the ball so wide it gave a very poor angle for the shot which was easily saved.

Tyson replaced Newman and Savage replaced Brown, which was adventurous, but in the end only underlined the point that we don't have any forwards with the ability or experience to challenge Goater or Forster for a place in the team. Both players have a lot to learn and are certainly not ready for first team football yet.

Forster missed the best chance of the game when Salako floated in good cross which was flicked on by Goater and Fozzy somehow got underneath the ball and put it over the bar from about three yards. Maybe I'm being harsh but I though he should have put it away.

Coppell is too intelligent to further undermine the confidence of his players by being publicly critical of their ability but he must already realise he has a big job to and already made it clear that he need to bring players in. He is absolutely right in thinking that the current squad is not good enough to make a serious push for promotion. I get the feeling he is still taking a lot of advice from Dillon. I am sure changes will come and over the next few weeks he will gradually have a greater say in selection and substitutions as he becomes more aware of the strengths and weaknesses of his players.
Report by John Wells


God, what a way to spend an evening! Any improvement that came vs. Preston was lost tonight. ANOTHER soft goal conceded (what were Marcus & the 'wall' doing?? Samways has probably never had such an easy opportunity from a free kick!), and the midfield...AGAIN!!!! How long do we have to look woefully 2nd best in the centre of the park before a change is made in the starting 11, never mind during a game like tonight's. Osbourne & Samways gave Sidwell & especially Harper a lesson tonight. Plus points?? Hmmmm...well Salako performed well again & showed what a asset some experience in midfield can be, glory-boy Forster was much improved too & seems to be starting to re-discover that there are actually other players that play for RFC other than him. And again, there was much effort from the players. But this was never enough to even look like getting something from the game. We finally ran out of luck tonight & couldn't pull a positive result out of a poor performance. The midfield needs sorting before Sheffield on Friday, or I shudder to think what may happen. Again, vast improvements needed. COME ON......
Caversham Royal

've seen some crap in my time , but this was right up there on the" total bollox "scale . We got away with against Gillingham and Preston , but no way were we going to make it three jammy wins out of three. Mind you with a clown in goal for us that was no surprise . Walsall were gifted a goal by yet another piece of pathetic so called goal keeping , "here's what we'll do , line the wall up one side of the goal , I'll stand behind them , then let the bloke knock it in the other side of the net from thirty yards out ", pathetic . Hahnemann now deserves to be dropped , that's three games on the trot he's made howlers and on each occasion put Reading under undue pressure. The rest of them didn't do much better and looked an absolute shambles . How in gods name , can in the main , the same set of players who played Ipswich and Notts Forest off the park at the start of the season , capitulate into such a shambolic rabble . You would think after two home wins on the trot and playing a team who haven't won once away from home all season , we would go into the game with a degree of confidence and get a result again . My arse , everything tonight was an embarrassing joke, nobody wanted the ball , nobody running off the ball , no passing , no control and resorting to good old fashioned hoofing . As for Forster and Goater , well they seem to get on as a striking partnership like Saddem Hussein and George Bush ! They are clearly not suited to each others game . Welcome to the world of mediocrity , the world of mid to lower table dross , half empty stadiums , players earning easy money and taking the piss out of the supporters. I fear it has to get worse before it gets better , Coppell is not stupid and will certainly realise that . I loathe to criticise John Madejski , he is a wonderful benefactor for our club and a good man , but the squad we have got is clearly lacking in strength and quality to get where we want to go . We got away with it last season , we will not go anywhere if things stay as they are . Lots of games to go , but the eyes don't lie , unless things turn around very quickly , which I don't think they will , then its next season we have to look to and a big influx of new quality players . That's going to mean money ......
Nick Newbury

Well I got back from the Preston game to comments on this site, plus radio and press, that we had battled well, great come back etc etc when I thought I had watched a crap team only get on equal terms with a team of 10 men thanks to some strange refereeing decisions - e.g. Mackie staying on when most of east stand thought he would be sent off for stamping on player etc etc (despite which he got a positive write up for playing with a bad knee). I hope the Walsall game now persuades even the most fervent supporters that one or two things need fixing such as:
- drop Goater - nice man apparently blah blah but not delivering - reality is that we are back to having a one man forward line but have taken away a midfielder to give Goater a job - were he and Pardew in the Masons (NOT THE PUB) - are they by any chance related - problem is I see Coppell praising him up in the programme
- give Savage or Tyson a go
- bring on Watson and drop that headless chicken midfield player (what's his name ) - ah yes, remember the days when someone in midfield would get the ball, look up and then pass it to a player in space Possibilities for next two games:
Poss One - we get stuffed at Sheffield, then lose 1-0 Huddersfield, local press start getting hysterical re Reading slump etc as we slide down the table
Poss Two - Coppell changes things (by the way - what has he got them to do differently since he arrived?) - we go down fighting at Sheffield or get a gallant draw - then stuff Huddersfield and start the season again.
Poss Three - Coppell puts on those ridiculous tight shorts he used to wear and plays himself
Tails of Woodley

I totally agree with all the above comments and more. I begin to wonder if we have a new manager or does it say in his contract that his first game starts the same time as Pardew's? Where are the changes? Where are the exiting new tactics? Where is the passion? I know it takes a while for a new manager to bed in, but "Shorey" he can see that changes to the starting squad have to be made. Harper midfield general? more like midfield genital! I know on his day Harper can really influence a game, but unfortunately for the last few games he couldn't influence my mum to give him a kiss on the cheek! (and believe me she's fair game!) Frankly Harry I'm bored! Maybe a string of home games in a row doesn't help, but Tuesday I would have rather been at home, in the warm drinking a hot cup of cocoa, watching University Challenge than watching another load of over privileged knobs with their heads up their arse! Why Coppell doesn't play Watson I don't know, maybe "it's elementary"! and another thing, can some one please remove the lead weights from Goater's boots! The poor chap seems to have an inability to jump for a ball! I know he cost us a lot of money and he comes with a great CV, but that's "Shorey" not a good enough reason to play him each game when he's playing like he's just there to pick up his pay packet at the end of the week! Come on lads where's the passion? Where's the pride? If we don't pull our finger out I can see us playing Swin-ford next season! "Shorey" this can't be good! "Shorey" this can't be true! "Shorey" this will not do! please tell em' "Shorey"! "Shorey" please do!!
S Holmes

When Pardew left we all agreed he left the club in a much better state than when McGee left. Excellent young squad, an academy full of promising talent etc etc. What the hell has gone wrong? It looks worryingly like this is a rebuilding programme not promotion. Certainly anybody who has watched us will find any talk of promotion laughable. Right now I can't see us finishing within 10 points of the play offs. 2 months ago I felt we could push for an automatic spot. If this is the case, Coppell's 18months contract is not long enough. No-one can rebuild a malfunctioning team and get promotion in that timescale. That means we'll be in this position again in 18months time. Surely that means Mr Mad & the Board have seriously misjudged things. Coppell needs to look at performing some pretty major surgery ASAP. We have some big teams to play in the next month, based on last nights debacle, we could be in for a few horror shows yet. I struggle to imagine anything other than a rout at Sheffield Utd.
Paul, Thatcham Royal

Have to agree with all that's already been said but would just like to add that there was still one positive point to come out of last night and that was Andy Hughes was not missed!

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