READING 2 WYCOMBE WANDERERS 0 (Half Time: 2-0)
Williams (16 mins), Henderson (18 mins).
Wycombe Wanderers Scorers: -
22 September 2001
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
As some others have said I actually went away from The Mad Stad feeling
a little dissapointed today.
Well that shut up Pardew's critics.
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.
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