(HT: 1-0)
Reading Scorers: Cureton, Butler, Butler, Hodges, Butler.
Swansea City Scorers: Watkin
Date: 23 September 2000
Attendance: 11,003

Reading: Whitehead, Gurney, Viveash, Hunter, Newman, Parkinson, Caskey (Murty), Hodges, Butler, Cureton (Smith), McIntyre (Henderson).
Subs not used: Mackie, Ashdown.

Swansea City: Freestone, Howard, Cusack, Bound, Thomas, Coates, O'Leary, Price, Phillips (Morgan), Jenkins (Roberts), Boyd (Watkin).
Subs not used: S Jones, J Jones.

Bookings: Butler, Cureton, Viveash (Reading). Bound, Roberts, Thomas (Swansea).
R Olivier

It just gets better and better! In the space of 14 days Reading have now won three consecutive home games - scoring 14 goals. After the 4-0 stuffing of Brentford and then the 5-0 humiliation of Oldham at the Madejski Stadium it seemed we couldn't possibly hope for anything better than a goal or two victory - but Reading followed it up with another goal feast - thrashing Swansea City 5-1. In the last few seasons anything more than the single goal at home was a major achievement - now we've averaging four goals a game at home in the league over the season, with 19 goals scored in just 5 home league matches. The statistics speak for themselves - Reading are in shit hot form and there will be no side in the whole division who'll be looking forward to a trip to fortress Madejski.

Perhaps the most pleasing thing about another high scoring victory was that this time the opposition were of a much higher standard. Swansea, fresh from a 4-0 victory of their own over Luton Town last week, looked good coming forward and will be gutted to leave having lost by four goals after putting together a decent performance of their own away from home. However, Reading well deserved their victory - and every one of the five goals they blasted past the away side. Once again it was an all round team performance from the Royals - but special credit must be given to the front men. Having lost Forster through injury it's amazing that we still have the best strike partnership in the whole division in the shape of Cureton and Butler. Both players worked hard together to create and score chances - and Reading's goals were of the highest quality after carving the Swansea defence to pieces. And lets not forget Jimmy McIntyre playing on the right in place of the injured Sammy Igoe - he was superb. In midfield Phil Parkinson was back to his very best, and in goal Whitehead pulled off some amazing saves. But the list goes on, the Royals as a whole were simply blinding today.

The first half was a decent enough performance from Reading as they dealt with a Swansea side that seemed to be willing to settle for a draw. However, it didn't really show many signs of another goal riddled second half that was to come. The opening half hour was quite even with Swansea actually looking quite tight at the back to begin with. The away side were happy to pass the ball around their back four and occassionally pump the ball forward. Having said that in a five minute period they could have easily taken the lead. Twice they broke through down the left side, once suspiciously off-side, getting past the defence, and twice Whitehead came out well to dive to his right to make close range saves. After that a cross from the left was met well in the middle with Whitehead managing to cleanly catch a header that would have otherwise gone in.

With Reading pushing forwards we always looked capable of something. With our best chance of the half we took the lead on the half hour. Cureton passed it to Butler who held the ball up and then played a superb ball forward back to Cureton. Cureton raced past his defender on the outside, left him dead, and cut into the right side of the box. As the keeper come out Cureton buried it into the bottom left corner of the net. 1-0 to the Royals. Caskey had a couple of free kicks that could have extended the lead - one from the left edge of the box flew through a crowd of players and ended up hitting the foot of the keeper's left side post. As half time drew close it was Reading looking well on top with McIntyre creating plenty of chances with some decent crosses, and a couple of shots flying just over the crossbar. Just before the break a corner from the left saw Barry Hunter come flying in and send a header goal-bound. Unfortunately the defender on the line was in just the right place to save an otherwise certain goal.

Swansea, having perhaps come for the draw, pushed forward further as the second half got underway, and suddenly we had a decent end to end game on our hands. Reading continued to look the most dangerous through. Eight minutes into the half Butler was given the ball just inside the left side of the box from a McIntyre header. Next second he's turned on it and driven it low diagonally across the box and the keeper and into the bottom right corner of the net. 2-0 to the Royals!

The away side came right back at us though, with Parky making a great tackle with the Swansea winger cutting in towards the goal from the left. Moments after that Whitehead made a superb save after the ball was crossed from the left and the header was dipping under the bar - Whitehead did really well to dive almost backwards to tip it over the bar for a corner. In response Reading pushed forward looking to increase the lead - Caskey played it forward to Cureton and again the forward partnership paired up perfectly as the defence was split and the ball played to Butler inside the area. Butler took his time, turned a defender, twisted again, waited for the keeper to come out before driving it into the back of the net. A quality goal and Reading were 3-0 up with half an hour still to play.

Even at this point such a huge victory seemed unlikely with Swansea starting to make all sorts of chances coming forward. The Reading defence was guilty of hanging back a bit too much and Swansea were allowed to get far too close sending a shot from just outside the box hard onto the Reading crossbar. Just after that, under a bit of pressure the ball dropped to the Swansea forward in the middle of the Reading box and he looped it over Whitehead to pull one back. 3-1. There were no celebrations from Swansea though as they grabbed the ball to get the game kicked off again, intent on keeping up the pressure. A couple of attacks later and Reading got the chance to calm the game down. Smith came on for Cureton and Caskey was replaced by Smith as Reading concentrated on slowing the game up and keeping possession. And it worked a treat - from then on there was only one team likely to get anything from the game as Reading started playing to ball around on the ground - but still working it forward.

With twenty minutes to go Reading sealed the victory. McIntyre stormed down the right wing and sent over another decent cross into the box. It was far enough away from the keeper but not quite close enough to Butler who missed out on his hat-trick at that point. Flying in from the left though was Hodges who connected with the cross to make it 4-1. As the game started drifting to a close Reading started taking the piss - calmly knocking it around to chants of "It's just like watching Brazil" from the East Stand. McIntyre got a standing ovation as he left the pitch after a great performance down the right, and Darius Henderson come off the bench. With just a couple of minutes to go it was a deserved hat-trick for Martin Butler - following on from Cureton's deserved hat-trick in the 4-0 stuffing of Brentford two weeks ago. A corner from the right was knocked on inside the box to Butler at the far post who made no mistake with his close range header. 5-1 and the Reading fans were in jubilant mood for the third consecutive home match.

It's hard to believe this is Reading scoring four or five goals every home match - but it's about time we were rewarded for seasons of single goal victories, and that's if we even managed to win at home. This is obviously promotion form - especially considering we should have won at Peterborough last week but left defeated. But if we bounce back from every narrow away defeat with another five goals at home it's hard to complain. It goes without saying that we have no problems up front, but the midfield is looking a lot better now too with Parky and Hodges looking well worth their selection. At the back I still can't help thinking we might look a bit better when Adrian Williams returns in the place of either Hunter or Viveash - but this is hardly the time to complain about anything. The whole team were brilliant, again, today.


Following report by Neil Cole:

It seems Reading can do no wrong at home at the moment, as another inspired performance produced yet another thrashing at the MadStad. This was expected to be a much tougher game, with Swansea coming to Reading sitting in the top half of the division and rapidly earning a reputation for having an excellent defence. Last year’s Division Three champions started the match having conceded just three goals in seven league games, and nobody in the ground believed Reading would be able to destroy them in the same way they did Brentford and Oldham. Yet we outclassed them, and after this performance there can be no doubting that we are good enough to win Division Two this season.

Where Reading had started the game at Peterborough with the goal of containing the opposition, it is clear that at home Pardew has a very different mentality. Jimmy McIntyre was chosen to start on the left in a very attacking role, supporting the in-form strike pairing of Cureton and Butler. Darren Caskey resumed on the right, where he had played at Peterborough after the injury to Sammy Igoe. What Pardew needs to learn from the past 3 home games is that when we play in such an attacking frame of mind, we have the ability to simply tear Division Two defences apart. If we start matches away from home with the same mentality, this together with the confidence gained from home results should see us start to pick up points away from the Madejski Stadium as well.

Although it is still early in the season, I am yet to be impressed by any of the sides we have met so far. Cureton and Butler have already formed such an impressive partnership that I am convinced they are too good for any defence in this division. With these two up front, in addition to the attacking class of players like Igoe, Rougier, Caskey and Hodges, we have the strongest attack in Division Two, and need to realise this when we travel to other teams. The important thing to consider with players like these is that they thrive on confidence. If they believe they are too good for the opposition and are capable of scoring with every attack, they produce results like the ones we have seen in recent weeks at Madejski.

However, if we start games at places like Peterborough and Northampton sitting back and trying to “contain” them, it is clearly more likely to encourage them to come at us. If we then go a goal down early on, as happened at Northampton and Millwall, we find it hard to get back into the match as the players’ confidence takes a blow. I’m sure the results we have seen away this season are more psychological than a reflection on their ability. The proof of this will be when we play these teams at home and soundly beat them.

Today Reading were by far the better team for seventy minutes of the ninety. There was a scare in the first half as Swansea came at us with the match still goal-less, but after Jamie Cureton had put us in the lead following great work from Hodges and Butler, there was only one team in it. At half-time the lead was just the one goal, but Reading played in the second half like we know they can, and it was soon a case of simply wondering how many we would score this week.

The second half was all about Martin Butler, as he produced a Premiership-quality performance and scored a deserved hat-trick. His first came from nowhere, as he turned onto a ball from just outside the box and cracked home a shot that flew into the far corner with the keeper well beaten. The second was a quite brilliant finish after he had been found unmarked after a lethal Reading counter-attack. We all expected the first time finish, but instead he turned the oncoming defender and delicately placed it past the keeper. His third came near the end, with a simple header from a well worked corner. Butler had devastated the Swansea defence, and single-handedly scored as many against the Swans as seven other teams had managed between them all season.

Again Reading showed that as brilliant as Cureton and Butler are, we don’t rely on them for all the goals. Lee Hodges marked another good performance with Reading’s fourth, the goal which killed the game off. Swansea had given us a brief scare, getting back into the match shortly after Butler had made it 3-0. They then proceeded to hit the bar, as it suddenly dawned on us that maybe three goals wouldn’t be enough. Hodges’ goal, though, ended the contest and this was enough for many Swans fans, who left the ground early.

This free-flowing, free-scoring football from Reading is becoming the norm at home, and MadStad is now becoming the “fortress” we hoped it would be when it was built. Where in the past teams had been able to contain our weak strike force and catch us on the break, we now have a squad capable of sending most teams home with a trouncing. We are good enough to win this league, it really is as simple as that. All we need is to take this positive attitude to our away matches, and we will have no reason to fear anyone.

Post Match Opinions

This has been a sucessful campaign for Reading so far, so keep up the good work lads! As far as today was concerned I do feel the scoreline was a bit harsh on Swansea, they played their part in an entertaining game. We didn't play particularly well in the first half but we fans were soon to be rewarded with an entertaining second half hatrick by Martin Butler. Although Cureton hasn't got the Forster skill and speed he is proving to be extremely good value for money doing something that Forster struggled to do, namely putting the ball in the back of the net.
I didn't get the feeling that we totally dominated but it seems when the lads want to score they just go up the other end and do it. Simple as that! Having played nine games and scored 20 goals, carrying on at this rate would mean we'd score 100! I'm sure many Reading fans would settle for that. And JM would settle for a few more through the gate, at this rate he won't be disappointed!
Well done lads and well done Pards and Mad Dog.

-- Chris.

That was quality, but there is still room for improvement.
What got us to 2nd in the 1st division a couple of seasons back was our away form and if we are going to win this division we need to satrt winning away. There are no worries at home, and with Adie, Murty, Robinson, Tony and Jones still to come we are looking solid. All this without Forster, if we can score 19 goals in 4 home games without him, just think what we would have done with him. It is all looking good for at least a play-off place, and with Oxford and Swindon both doing crap it makes it all that little bit sweeter.

-- Sam

Can't quite believe these home games... we're putting away plenty of goals and I still don't think we're playing brilliantly. Just think what we'll be like when we're at full strength .... the rest of the division will be quaking in their boots!
-- S Thompson

Difficult to pick a man of the match today, although Butler was superb. Not only did he score an excellent hat trick, he held the ball up, tackled back, and linked up with the rest of the team. Whitehead deserves a mention. What would have happened if he had let Swansea back in we thankfully don't need to consider. We can all remember throwing away good leads!
-- Kevin

I reckon they must all be on drugs! Who bloody cares, that what I say!
We really are starting to look the business bearing in mind where we are with half the so called first teamers absent. If we can just hang on in there till we get those players back then promotion is definitely on the cards. I remember the great fat scotch one saying , average two points a game is championship form, so lets get something from Rotherham.
That will prove we are serious contenders. I'll be there!



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