(Half Time: 0-1)
Reading Scorers: Cureton
Orient Scorers: Brkovic
Date: 22 August 2000
Attendance: 2,316

Reading: Whitehead, Robinson, Viveash, Cureton, Igoe (Gamble), Evers, Gurney, Mackie, Henderson (Butler), Newman, Rougier.
Subs not used: Caskey, Haddow, Ashdown.

Leyton Orient: Bayes, Joseph, Lockwood, McGhee, Harris, Griffiths (Watts), Brkovic, Garcia, Downer, Martin, McElholm.
Subs not used: Barrett, Shorey, Parsons, Brissett.

It’s the same every year… we could almost write a script for the 1st round 1st leg of the Worthington Cup. Reading get drawn against a 3rd division club so we go to the first match expecting a bit of a walkover. Reading put out a below strength team who look for most of the game like they can’t really be bothered, and the game peters out into a 0-0 or a 1-1 draw. The only thing interesting from this year’s first round was that we didn’t draw Peterborough.

The Reading team was completely changed from Saturday’s triumph against Swindon. John Mackie was brought in at centre back for his debut, partnering skipper for the night Adi Viveash. Sammy Igoe was played on the right of midfield, with the forgotten man Sean Evers getting a rare chance in the middle. Up front, Darius Henderson was given an opportunity to impress, but it was his strike partner for the night that everybody had come to see.

The signing of Jamie Cureton probably doubled the Reading following for the night, as the acquisition of such a prolific goalscorer for such little money has sparked a huge wave of optimism amongst Reading fans. We thought we may go up before his signing, now everyone seems convinced.

Yet on tonight’s performance we shouldn’t start seeing ourselves as invincible just yet. Admittedly, it was an experimental team in what is probably the least important match of the competitive season, yet even so we were outplayed by a third division club. Leyton Orient looked far more fluent and creative than we did all night, and in the end were unlucky not to win.

First, the positives we can take from the game. A 1-1 draw away from home is never a bad result in a two-leg cup competition, and we should comfortably make the second round. John Mackie, the only one of Pardew’s signings that nobody really knows about, had a good game and didn’t miss much all night. Tony Rougier showed that he is 100% committed to playing his best regardless of the situation, as he put in his third hard-working, exciting performance for the Royals in a row.

Rougier has set up every goal we have scored this season, making two on Saturday against Swindon and one tonight. He showed great skill and determination to create one of tonight’s few openings for the Royals, allowing Jamie Cureton to score on his debut for the Royals. We were all expecting Cureton to score tonight, and the former Bristol Rovers man didn’t disappoint. As Rougier battled past his man on the left, he put in a cross from the bye-line which Cureton knocked in, via a post.

Reading were 1-0 up at half-time, and really they should have gone on to build on this lead. Yet the second half did not go according to plan, with Orient dominating from the very start and scoring a deserved equaliser through Berkovic. It could have been two shortly afterwards as a Caskey-style free-kick curled round the post of Phil Whitehead’s goal. There were numerous more chances for the O’s after that, but Reading somehow held out and will start the second leg on level terms.

This is where the negatives from the night started to appear. Sean Evers failed to take his chance, and was largely anonymous all night. Darius Henderson showed very little sign that he is the promising young striker Pardew made him out to be, showing only an appalling first touch and not winning much in the air all night. Sammy Igoe looked good in places, but as we were warned by all the Pompey fans he tended to drift out the game for long spells. While we may have a very good first team thanks to Pardew’s recent acquisitions, tonight showed that are reserves aren’t really good enough to fill their boots when needed.

There were no surprises on the night, and we all left Brisbane Road feeling mildly disappointed, but knowing we’ve been here before. According to the script which we all know so well, Reading will comfortably win the second leg 2-0, and we’ll all start hoping for someone vaguely exciting in the second round draw.

Report by Neil Cole.

Post Match Opinions

The best thing I can say about this game was that a kind steward let us out at half time to have a cheeky pint in the nearby pub. Unfortunately a different steward let us back in for the second half.
This was a very poor game, we didn't really seem interested but the league is our priority and so it seemed as though our players wanted to stay injury free. Who can blame them (just ask poor Nicky Forster). However someone failed to tell Orient, as they played very well and passed the ball about well. Whitehead played brilliantly in goal and saved a couple of certain goals. Cureton scored on his debut. An acceptable night but not too many more like that please.

-- Russ. Essex Royal

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