(Half Time: 2-0)
Reading Scorers: Williams (16 mins), Henderson (18 mins).
Wycombe Wanderers Scorers: -
Date: 22 September 2001
Attendance: 13,565

Reading: Whitehead, Murty, Williams, Whitbread, Robinson, Harper, Jones (N Smith 73), Igoe, Butler, Henderson (A Smith 81), Forster (Cureton 64). Subs not used: Ashdown, Viveash.

Wycombe Wanderers: Taylor, Senda, Cousins, Rogers, Vinnicombe, Bulman, Ryan (Brown 45), Simpson, Rammell (Carroll 63), Holligan (sent off 60), Currie (McSporran 58). Subs not used: Emblen, Walker.
Butler, Forster, Igoe, Jones, Williams (Reading); Holligan, McSporran (Wycombe).
Sent Off: Holligan (60 mins)
C J Foy (St Helens)

Report by John Wells
Two moments stood out in this eventful victory. On twenty minutes Henderson produced a magnificent header at the far post from a Murty cross to give the Royals a two goal lead; and mid-way through the second half Harper was denied by the Wycombe keeper after carving his way through the defence with a combination of slick passing, strong running, and excellent ball control.

Reading dominated the game and only poor finishing saved Wycombe from a heavy defeat. I had anticipated a tough game and was surprised how comfortably Reading coasted to victory. Pardew must take a lot of credit for his team selection and tactics. The balance looked right from the start. Henderson winning almost every header in the box, Forster worrying the Wycombe defence with his pace and Butler finding a lot space behind the front two. It didn't matter that there were only three in midfield. Igoe and Harper were full of running, and Jones anchored midfield with well timed tackles and excellent distribution.

Reading started brightly and went ahead when Butler headed on a corner and Adie Williams reacted quicker than everyone else to score from close range. Within two minutes Henderson had added a second. Wycombe never looked like getting back into the game, and after Holligan was sent off Reading were able to retain possession for long spells in midfield.

Reading's defence looked really solid again today. It was impressive to watch the way they got players around the ball whenever a threat emerged, won the ball cleanly, and then launched another attack. The only serious attempt on goal from Wycombe was a long range effort from Simpson early in the second half.

This was an entertaining match in spite of the referee doing his utmost to spoil it, producing eight cards, including two yellows for Holligan, in a game that was never likely to boil over. His decisions fluctuated from petty to absurd and he managed to infuriate both sets of fans.

This was a very encouraging performance all round. Perhaps Pardew has begun to appreciate the potential he has within his squad to vary the formation and tactics when necessary. He was certainly very positive in his selection today and had his strikers been on form he would have reaped the reward that his preparation deserved. It is a bit worrying that Forster, Butler, and Cureton wasted so many chances between them, but they are all good players and will surely strike form sooner or later.

A lot of positive features emerged from this game. Jones proved more than adequate as a replacement for Parky. Henderson continues to improve with every game, and it is along time since I've seen a Reading forward score so convincingly with his head. Murty and Igoe once again turned in very solid performances. At the end of the game Harper was the last man off the field. He knew he had played exceptionally well and clearly wanted to savour the applause he richly deserved. His confidence, athleticism and skill caused real problems for Wycombe today. There is still along way to go but things look pretty good at the moment.

Post Match Opinions

A thoroughly enjoyable game and a thoroughly comprehensive victory for the Royals. The 4-3-3 switch worked a treat, and the tendency of the team to pass rather than hoof was long overdue and very welcome. Two players in particular stood out. Darius Henderson was simply magnificent, scoring a terrific header and winning everything in the air. But fans who think he has nothing to offer on the floor are very misguided; he showed as deft a touch and ability to lay the ball off as well as anyone on the park. He also defended very well and at only 19 is a great asset. Man of the match for me however narrowly went to Keith Jones, who's performance belied his age and lack of starts this season. He controlled the midfield and seemed to be everywhere, if he keeps it up Parky will not be able to get back in the side upon his return from suspension. Elsewhere, there was not a weak performer in the team and surely we will continue with this formation, particularly at home as it seems to be far more effective than the previous tactics. Many fans would like to see the team pass it more, myself included, as we have the players with the ability to employ this style of play. Of course this division will always require a direct style of play but against Wycombe we seemed to find the correct balance. Highlight of the day bar Henderson's goal was the awesome 20-odd passes that nearly led to a goal in the second half: a joy to behold!
-- Robert Webb

At last a league performance to be proud of, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and my mind can be restored to a positive state. The performance was excellent and once again Murty for me played a huge part in this impressive display as Reading out classed Wycombe in every department. Today however was the game that Harper came of age and showed his true class, if only he had put away that chance after Reading had played keep ball. Despite my lack of enthusiasium for the coaching staff of late I have to concede that Pardews 4-3-3 formation showed some tactical invention which he has been criticised of late for lacking. Lets hope the team keep their mind on it and do their homework for Tuesday away at Bournemouth and make today's victory the point at which the Royals get a grip on promotion and start the long march to win the second division.
There is a long way to go and Bristol City being thrashed 4-1 today shows how fickle the division can be. There will be matches where we will have to batten down the hatches and others where we can show flair. Consistency is what we need now and if we get six points out of the next two games we could emerge from the pack and start putting some day light between us and the other promotion contender. I thought Jones was outstanding along side Harper and should be kept in the team if he continues this form. On another day Butler may have had a hatrick, don't worry Martin the goals will come, just keep up that work rate and keep the opposition on their toes. Last of all I would like to say that whilst Henderson looks a little agricultural he adds a dimension to the team which I feel complements his team mates and as a result Reading created far more scoring chances and had better shape and movement. He may not possess Rougier's speed and ball skills but that's not important if he is effective. Keep Darius as a foil to Butler and Cureton and I am sure the goal tally will rise.
Good luck for Tuesday lets hope, after faltering, the season now takes off.

-- Paul Finch

What a strange feeling. To come away from a game in which we dominated and won and I actually felt disappointed we didn't score more goals! That is how far Pardew has taken the club...and with a brilliant tactical decision to play three (completely different style) strikers up front Pardew has shown his ability to learn from mistakes made last season. I think Jones and Harper were fantastic in midfield...I thought Jones was good against Stoke when he came on and despite looking camp when he plays he is very effective and shows that with Parky away we certainly have able replacements in the squad!!!!! Henderson with 5000th Reading league goal.....is this guy going to be a Reading legend?
-- Tim Smith

We never looked like conceding a goal and controllled the match for most of the 90 minutes.There were some excellent individual performances, notably from Keith Jones and the effective Darius Henderson. Our defence was sound and the midfield seemed in control with Jones and Harper totally at ease with the 4-3-3 formation.The only disappointment was the lack of sharpness shown by our normally deadly duo - Butler & Cureton. Butts knows he is lacking a yard of pace at the moment and it is showing in his confidence. But as long as Pards perserveres with him he will wade in with another 20+ goals this term. Curo is much the same, a total 'confidence' striker, the sooner he starts scoring the more he will score! Meantime, Henderson adds another option, winning loads in the air and if he could improve his first touch could have a potentially big price tag on his head already. Forster's disappointment at being subbed shows how much he wants to be involved and how competitive it is now for places. All in all, a sound performance and a step toward being top of the league on Saturday 6th October when we play and beat Colchester, completing six straight wins.
-- Sussex Royal

How we did not score three or four more goals in the second half I do not know. I cannot recall seeing more chances created without success. The only reason we didn't score more was slight misfortune, and the product of having so many strikers to choose from that none of them seem fully match sharp at present, but the goals will come. The low light was the referee who gave the official from the Cardiff game a close run thing for the prize for the most inept performance I have ever seen. I thought we would not see that again for a while. The highlight was another staggering performance by Sammy Igoe, and a fantastic goal by Darius Henderson. I have a sneaky feeling that he may surprise us all in the fullness of time, and that if he starts netting regularly he may not stop. He and Butler looks a formidable new partnership, although it was great to see Cureton back in action and a little more match sharpness would have seen him pick up at least one goal. A great performance, and who knows we may even put another team in claret and blue out of the Worthington Cup on this form.
-- Gary

That was a lot better than the recent crap that's been served up the last two games and just shows how we can perform on the day, all be it against a very poor Wycombe side. Fair play to both Jones and Henderson who both had very good games with "Robocop" Henderson even making the News of the World division two team of the day! They've both had a fair share of stick but yesterday played brilliantly. Can Jones and Parky both play in midfield along side Harper? Don't think so, be interesting to see who gets the spot, I think Jonesy edges it with his passing better than Parky, though there will be many battles ahead this season where Parky will lead from the front. Murty again performed well, must get injured soon, and Whitbread deserves a mention for an outstanding performance. Nicky Forster again had chances but I worry that he's becoming a little greedy, should have laid the back on a couple of occasions yesterday, but still a cracking player. Poor Butler and Cureton couldn't hit a cows arse with a banjo yesterday though again I'm sure the goals will come. Finally, although the ref was on the whole another incompetent tosser, full marks for booking Forster and Williams for diving. As big Paddy said along side me yesterday, what the bloody hells going on, lets cut the diving out of the game and get rid of the cheats. Just wish there was consistency by the so called refs. Great chance for us now with Bournemouth and Bury coming up and most of our early rivals playing each other next week, six points would be great but four will be ok.
Lets all make loads of noise from the salubrious Tesco end on Tuesday night.... UURRRZZ.

-- Nick Newbury

Henderson has come of age big time since Luton only a month ago. He possesses good strength and is good at laying the ball off. The likes of Forster, Butler and Cureton will only benefit from having a big target man alongside them. The 4,3,3 formation was an excellent ploy by Pardew. We picked up loose balls around Wycombe’s area due to the extra man. As far as the Harper issue goes I’m in total agreement with Paul [Finch]. I felt he come of age yesterday in that he was constantly involved and very effective, unlike his usual self of drifting in and out of the game. But he's young, a good prospect but we can't expect that of him every game so an additional playmaker would be a useful buy. Generally, we have the makings of being a first division outfit and with a few more decent signings I see no reason why it won’t be this season.
-- Chris A. (Ballboy)

As some others have said I actually went away from The Mad Stad feeling a little dissapointed today.
I worry about our discipline. Far too many yellow cards again this season and often for needless things and when we had the chance to bury Wycombe and send a signal to the rest of the division (as we did last year) that we are going to score a hatful against you if you don't contain us we sat back.
Great performance, woeful finishing.
Whilst we looked in control it would have only taken 1 Wycome goal and even with only 10 men they could've been back in it. In my opinion we should have gone in at half-time 3 or 4-0 up. Instead we sat back. Admittedly in the second half we were just unlucky and could have had 5 or 6. I have criticised AP's tactical game and today he answered a lot of critics with an excellent choice of formation. Even the players looked invigorated by the way they had more space & time. As Pards said afterwards 'teams will come to us and wonder exactly what we'll do! All performances today were very good but some were exceptional. Jones - looked a great asset for the very first time Henderson - after a clumsy start is really looking good and great to see him score that goal at such a good time Harper - Looked great, after not really impressing me since he joined Whitbread - Has looked magnificent from his first game at Brentford, but yesterday he was outstanding Murty - I asked myself for two seasons how on earth we could have paid 3/4 Million on this bloke, but he is increasingly becoming a brilliant contributor week in week out. One other criticism is of Adie Williams. You can't ask for a more committed player, however I thought his gamesmanship was unneccesary and distasteful and will probably make him a marked man as the season wears on. I believe he got Holligan sent off for 2 fouls, yes bad but not sending off offences. His antics at the end were simply pathetic and he deserved to go in the book. (Again poor discipline) Looking forward to a win at Dorchester but certainly not looking forward to the journey!
Come on URZ!!!

-- Deano.

Well that shut up Pardew's critics.
Poor tactician? Not for this game at least.
Lawrie Sanchez was out thought and his team outplayed. I don't know how many people heard his post match comments, where he called into question the staff's ability to do the job (get us out of this division) One quote was "if I'd spent £5m, I would get this club up. You'll never know will you Lawrie! Not unless Mr Parry get's his wallet out. Sour grapes, methinks. Wycombe were simply second rate, while Reading proved their class. Pardew made some excellent decisions.
1) Henderson starting. The boy gets better each game. What a wonderful goal, and superb link up play. I heard somebody say he looks like the next Jimmy Quinn. It's fitting he got the 5000th goal. I think we are just seeing the beginning.
2) Butler filling the void between midfield and forwards. His work rate was brilliant. His presence meant we didn't have to hoof it.
Was it me or did our midfield play further up the pitch? A shame he didn't score. He deserved it. Keith Jones had a great game. There were sloppy passes, but his vision at times was great. Good also to see a standing ovation when he went off. James Harper - real confidence player. The fans have to understand we need to support him more to get the best out of him. He has so much more to offer. At last the strength of our squad showed. I thought we would struggle against the likes of Wycombe without Parky.
OK. Wycombe were poor. But that's only half the story. Reading could have easily lowered their game and struggled. The fact we didn't is a credit to everybody. We really took the piss with that 20 odd pass moment. If only we'd scored... The next two games are crucial. Bournemouth & Bury are already struggling. It's not going to be pretty. For these games as fans we have to be patient and make more noise. We know we can win. The players know they can win. Instead of complaining at every missed pass or mistake (East Stand right siders you know who you are) let's see more of you joining in with the band & the score board end!

-- Paul (Thatcham Royal)

What a convincing performance which after the match allowed me to gloat a little more than normal sitting in the bar after the match chatting to Wycombes captain. He admitted they were dogs#it and they were, not because they were a bad side but Reading were a class above, the only thing that prevented a full on p#ss taking onslaught was that he arranged for Parky to get me a Reading shirt signed by the players on Saturday. On the subject of Parky, Keith Jones admitted that 75mins is about the most he can make these days so I don't think Parkys position is really under threat. Everyone agrees we are in the wrong division so come on you R's we'll see you in Dorchester.
-- Mark N - London

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