Team: Mautone, Bernal, Swales, Macca, Primus, Parkie, Caskey, Lambert, Meaker, Houghton, Williams.
Goal Scorers: Williams, Lambert, Primus
With the visitors being Notts Forest, relegated last season and currently clear at the top of the first division table, the game being screened live on Sky, and Reading looking to add to the seven game unbeaten run, a record attendance turned up at Elm Park on Friday night. Turning up five minutes before the kick off was not a good idea, as although they were still letting people in, we couldn't get into the crowd could only see two thirds of the pitch from the back ledge of the South Bank. Still the second half was where the action was and we had a decent view again by then to see what was a blinding half with almost everything you want from a footie match. There's no doubt that Forest went home feeling a bit hard done by. Perhaps we did have a bit of luck, but we could have gone on to win this game.
I managed to miss the first goal because of the queue. The first thing I saw was Reading taking a centre - and it wasn't to start the game off. Having watched the goals at the weekend I can tell you it was a Forest free-kick in the middle not far from the edge of the box. Reading left a huge gap in the wall - presumably to leave room for Mautone to see the shot. Mautone saw it alright - as it flew through the hole and curved into the right side of the net. 0-1 to Forest.
Forest almost made it 0-2 midway through the first half but didn't because of the most amazing miss that I can ever remember seeing. A move down the right was played into the centre, and with Mautone drawn to the other player, left an easy shot on an entirely open goal from no more than six yards out, with no defender near by. It was impossible not to score, but seconds later the ball was sailing high and wide over to the left prompting much hysterical laughter from the South Bank.
Despite Forest looking far too dangerous on the break there was no doubt that Reading were enjoying the greater possesion. However while our 4-5-1 formation was great for keeping the ball it never looked like producing any goals. With Asaba still out injured Roach was left on the Reading bench to leave Martin Williams up front as the loan striker - against a solid looking Forest defence.
After the break Forest punished Reading again within just a few minutes, with a quick move, ending with the ball bouncing off Linvoy Primus' arm. It looked like a very close decision to me. Primus appeared to have controlled the ball with his chest right on the edge of the area. But the ref thought it was both inside the box and off his arm. The penalty was powered home. 0-2 to the visitors.
At that point it seemed like Reading were dead and buried. But then the game turned with the sending off of Dave Beasant. Williams made a surging run into the Forest area, and with just the keeper to beat went tumbling over inside the area under the Forest keeper's challenge. Quite what the contact was was hard to see and the referee hesitated. However the contant flagging from the linesman sealed it and a penalty was given to the Royals. If it was a penalty then Beasant had to go for a professional foul. It took him a good five minute of moaning at the referee before he finally stomped off the pitch. Their number five took the keeper's jersey but was powerless to stop Williams straight drive into the roof of the net, as he dived to his right. 1-2. A mini pitch invasion of Reading fans trying to get onto TV was over quickly and the game restarted at a new speed.
With Forest down to ten men and without a goalkeeper, and Reading only a goal down again, the game came to life and Reading were back in it. With half an hour to go the fans were treated to some fast end to end football. Just when it looked like Reading may turn it around Forest restored their lead. A run straight down the middle of the park saw both McPherson and Primus fail to make a challenge. The Forest forward ran through the gap and stabbed the ball home from the edge of the area. 1-3.
But Reading still knew they could get something from the game and Lambert continued the come back with an even better run on goal. He jinxed through about four defenders, cut into the box, turned and fired home a blinding goal. A definate contender for goal of the season. 2-3.
And then the unlikely hero was Linvoy Primus. A corner from the right found Primus. Primus directed a scorching header from right of centre into the top left of the Forest goal. Yes! 3-3. Martin Williams looked like he'd settled it for Reading for a moment driving into the bottom left of the net, only to be ruled offside. Forest were far from out of it though and almost pulled back in front only to be denied by Mautone who tipped it over. Down at the other end there were more impressive heroics from the stand-in Forest keeper. A looping Reading shot from way outside the area looking to be looping over the keeper and into the net, but the back-pedalling keeper tipped it over the bar.
But then it was all over. A bit of disappointment that we didn't finish it off and grab all three points but I guess that would have been stretching our luck a bit too far. I'd have settled for 3-3 at half time, or even before the game kicked off. Reading stretch their unbeaten run to eight - and you can see why - some real dedication and effort from the lads.