Attendance: 5,855
Scorers: - Date: 22 April 2000
Team: Howie, Gurney (Murty), A.Williams, Primus, Robinson, Caskey, Grant (Henderson), Smith, Hodges (M.Williams), Butler, Forster.

Match Heroes:

Reading entered this match looking for their fourth consecutive away victory, and will feel unlucky to have left Wigan without a share of the points after a hard working second half fight-back. Wigan had most of the first half play creating most of the chances and looking the most dangerous - and probably deserved to be in the lead at the break. However Wigan's goal, and eventual winner, came from a controversial penalty decision ten minutes before half time. The referee, already in the habit of ignoring linesmans' decisions, judged that Adrian Williams had bought down his man inside the area, when contact was clearly outside the box. As the player cut across Williams he did his best to get inside the box before falling over to win Wigan a penalty. According to the rulebook Williams, as the last man, should have got a red card, but since a penalty was given it was only right that Adie got away with a yellow. The penalty was stuck home in the bottom corner of Howie's net to give the home side the lead.

It must be remembered that Wigan will probably be going up this season - they are one of the best sides in the division. But in the second half the Royals did more than the home side and could well have grabbed a point. With Reading playing some great football and really taking the game to Wigan there's more than enough evidence to suggest we'll be in Wigan's position this time next season. We're starting to expect the hard working battling performances from Reading, but we're also starting to work the ball around very nicely. Combine this with Pardew's spot on tactics and next season could be very interesting. Butler and Forster will almost certainly be one of the best, if not the best, strike-force in Division Two next season - and is was from these two that Reading looked most dangerous against Wigan.

With the game coming to a close Reading went on the attack to attempt to earn some points. Two strikers were bought of the bench in the shape of Henderson and Martin Williams (with Hodges and Grant being replaced), and Reading stormed forward to give Wigan a very nervous end to the match as they clung on to their single goal lead. Caskey almost stuck in one of his free-kick specials with the usual trickery to confuse the defence - however the ball went disappointingly wide of the Wigan post. Martin Butler put the ball in the net after being set up by Forster, but it was disallowed as he bundled it in. Either the referee saw handball or had a strange interpretation of the offside rule. In the last few minutes Butler again almost stuck it in again only to be denied by a last gasp tackle in front of goal. And deep in injury time Butler connected with a corner to send the ball onto the Wigan crossbar.

Final score: a 0-1 defeat. But ignore the result, it was always going to be near impossible to win away at Wigan but Reading gave it their best shot. We're due a four or five goal home win - lets hope it comes on Easter Monday against Wycombe Wanderers.

Post Match Opinions

If Wigan are one of the top two sides this season, then next season we will absolutely piss this league. Yes I know we lost to them but anyone who was there yesterday would have witnessed an absolutely appalling display of refereeing. First of all he gives them a penalty for a foul outside the box,and then he disallows a Butler goal for handball when the whole ground saw it come off his knee. And that's what divided the 2 teams, one fat incompetent tosser in black. Apart from that we played well and were all over them in the second half. Butler hit the post near the end ,and indeed had a great game,his workrate is phenomenal. A good away crowd of about 750. A word about Wigan though,they have a fantastic ground (obviously not as good as ours) but there were only 5,000 there and they are second in the league,it's staggering.They only open 3 sides of the ground,it just shows how big a club we are because I can't ever see that happening at the Mad House.
I can't wait for next season to start.
-- Russ.Essex Royal

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