Attendance: 11,834
Scorers: Forster, M.Williams Date: 24 April 2000
Team: Howie, Murty, A.Williams, Primus, Robinson, Caskey, Grant (Sent Off), Smith, Forster (Gurney), Henderson (Hodges), Butler (M. Williams).

Match Hero: Forster

Once again Reading overcame the odds to earn yet another deserved victory, when Wycombe looked set to earn at least a point. Reading's sixth victory from the last eight home league matches, in front of another crowd close to twelve thousand, puts the Royals comfortably into the top half of the table with two games left to play this season. Reading continue to power on to equal or better last seasons league record in a strong finish to the season that just doesn't let up. But at half time it didn't look good for the Royals after being reduced to ten men with Peter Grant's second booking moments before half time. Grant was more than a little unlucky to go after a challenge that most referees wouldn't have sent him off for - however with a re-arranged second half strike force, and Reading's usual determination to pick up all the points victory was deserved. Wycombe may have had a lot of the second half play, however they were a side who created chances but seemed scared to get a shot on target. Meanwhile Reading always looked dangerous when pushing forwards.

It was clear that Reading were going for a win from the off with a three man strike force of Henderson, Butler, and Forster - with Forster playing wide. Dariusz Henderson will be disappointed after getting his first start for Reading in front of the home fans. Although he saw a bit of the ball he didn't manage to get a shot in during his first half appearance before being replaced at half time by Lee Hodges, as Reading adjusted their formation to compensate for the loss of Grant. In the second half the formation worked a whole lot better despite the lack of a man. Forster and Martin Williams, who came on for Butler with thirty minutes to go, always looked dangerous - as soon as either of them got the ball it seemed likely we'd stick it in the back of the net.

The first half definately wasn't anything special. Reading looked like they were playing away from home with Wycombe having most of the ball and plenty of long hoofed clearances up the pitch from Primus in the centre of defence. We were keeping it tight at the back and limiting the away side's options, but I got the impression we were just playing out the first forty five minutes waiting for the second half before getting the goals to win the match. And it all looked like it might go horribly wrong when Grant got his marching orders. Wycombe had a couple more shots than Reading after having more of the possession, but Reading could still have gone in a goal or two up. Caskey could have given Reading the lead within the first ten minutes after getting the ball on the right inside the area. He seemed to have plenty of time to stick it in, but instead found the keeper. Later on in the half it looked like Butler was certain to score. Grant split the Wycombe defence with a ball straight down the middle of the pitch. Butler ran on and collected, and with a defender closing in he had just the keeper to beat. The defender caught up with him just inside the box, and Grant's tame shot was saved by the keeper racing off his line to meet Butler.

With the score at 0-0 at half time and Reading down to ten men the second half was always going to be more entertaining - and we weren't disappointed. Reading made up for the lack of a man by playing one less up front and relying on Forster and Butler to take on more men. Which they relished. Not long into the half Forster was supplied the ball down the right. With a defender on him and another one in the middle it looked hard for him. But he raced past his marker, strode into the box, momentarily looked like he might cross it, before firing a low shot right across the keeper into the far side of the net. Yes! 1-0 to the Royals, and a superb solo effort from Forster.

Wycombe then went on the hunt for the equaliser - but needed the help of a major Reading defensive cock-up to get it. The ball was lobbed forward, high to the edge of the Reading box. Howie came out looking to get it, but didn't come far enough. Stranded near the edge of the box, he stood there and watched, rather than legging it back, as Primus went up for the ball and headed it high into the air deeper into the Reading area. The ball game down, hit a Wycombe player, and with Howie still stranded bounced towards the goal, despite a man legging it back it was too late. 1-1. Reading heads didn't drop, and we continued to pump the ball forwards towards the the front men. Butler had a couple of chances but had trouble beating the last man and getting the shot in, and with the introduction of Martin Williams we looked more dangerous. Williams kept on getting in the right place at the right time and confusing the hell out of the defence - and that's how we grabbed the winner.

Neil Smith threw in a long throw from the Reading left diagonally into the Wycombe box. Adie Williams flicked it on and Martin Williams was up at the far post getting the better of the defender going up with him to nod it past the keeper. 2-1 to Reading, but plenty of time to hang on.

Once again Wycombe went on the hunt for the equaliser, but this time we didn't help them out. Despite getting the ball forward and down the wings, the away side rarely threatened to score. I lost count of the number of times they broke into the box only to fire a weak shot or cross into the side netting under no pressure at all and with time to spare. Coming down the middle they couldn't get past Adie or Primus, but with a few more accurate passes or a half decent shot they could have got something from the game. In a rare decent shot from Wycombe, Howie redeemed himself by getting down low to his right to tip wide of the post. They tried a string of long shots - all wide or high, and then won a succession of corners in the dying minutes.

But it all came to nothing, and Reading had done enough to win the full three points despite being a man short. Another great victory against a side above us in the table. We've got Bury away next week, and then it's the final game of the season on the 6th of May. The visit of Stoke City should be quite some game - hopefully the season's biggest crowd at the Madejski Stadium, in some early summer sun, and a performance to tide us over while we wait for next season's promotion campaign.

Post Match Opinions

I thought this game was a typical mid-table div 2 match. The ball spent far too much time in the air and not enough rolling around on that green stuff. However it produced another three points for the Royals and deservedly so!!! The R's have definately found a winning formula for next season and need to keep the football the same in order to secure promotion. The team today definately wanted the game more, in terms of challenges flying in all over the park (Grant!!!???) which is what is needed in a division which is not known for its Beckham 60 yards passes and the Edgar Davids flicks from the nike advert ( Which would earn him a two-footer from any number of players in the division). The royals certainly are on the up and should at least!! reach the play-offs next year, if not win the league by christmas and amass a goal tally (only rivaled by my sunday side) of 287!!. Oh no that was Theale Tigers under 11's. Keep it up. PS. how come no-one seems to be getting injured anymore, or has Mad Dog introduced an - Anyone with a worse injury than me is allowed off training for a week - Policy
-- T Sidwell

A new keeper and ten men every game and we'll definately be up next season! What has Martin Williams been doing in training? He looked more dangerous than ever and really should have had a hattrick in the short time he was on - a superb comeback. The lads really showed their spirit when down to ten men. Men of the match Forster, Robinson and Caskey (great cross for Fossy) - man of the last 20 minutes Williams - welcome back.
-- Jeff

Another good win, but we made hard work of it. Forget the sending off, forget the pace of Jermaine Mcsporran, we should have closed the game out in the first half with clear cut chances for Caskey and Butler and then gone on to win comfortably. The fact that we did not but still showed the resolve to dig in and win is great testimony to the players at the moment. The start was very promising with both sides opting for attacking formations and it looked as if we were to be in for a feast of goals.
Wycombe to their credit played some good football using the width of the pitch and leading Murty a merry dance as he struggled to keep his man under control. He stuck to the task well though perhaps without much success. The sending off of Grant was the turning point and from where I was he couldn't really complain. It was tough luck on Henderson who was understandably sacrificed to give the side the right balance. the first half ended fairly even after we had squandered those two glorious chances and it was tough on Caskey who has had a superb season and should win player of the season by a mile even though Forster has come with a good late run.
Forster's goal showed how things are going for him at the moment. He certainly seemed to have lost the ball but still managed to get his shot past their keeper. His pace will always trouble the opposition and his ability to turn in very small spaces will help us to success next season. I still don't really know what happened with their goal. The ball ended up by looping over a stranded Howie with two defenders legging it back in desperation. Whether the call was wrong, whether Howie just went walkabouts - well your guess is as good as mine. The second goal was well worked. A simple flick on from one Williams to another and the ball was in the net. Three more points, but we made it harder than it should have been.

-- Ken C

Excellent stuff ! Not the prettiest football in the second half (but what do you expect with 10 men!) Our defence finally looks confident despite one obvious omission please don't let Adie go at the end of the season he's what makes the difference (Murty did well as well). Forster was like a man possessed, I think the threat of a whack round the head with a crutch does the business. Wycombe played an Argentinean style of football (not the silky skills and deft footwork but the diving and play acting !) and deserved to lose. I heard Lawrie Sanchez's post match interview oh dear did we make the wrong decision to stay at Wycombe don't worry mate we don't want you now we've got Pards and Mad dog at the helm.
-- D Evans

You forgot to mention 'that' tackle by Darius Henderson, launching himself into the back of someone's legs from about five yards away. It led to a bit of pushing and shoving, but only a yellow card!!
-- John H

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