Reading finished their home season with an amazingly easy victory of Oldham - and in doing so effectively doomed Oldham to Division Two football next season. And to be honest you could see why Oldham are heading that direction after this performance. This was little more than a kick around for the Royals and without really trying, and with seemingly nothing to play for, we could have been several up by half time. Full marks to Jim and Mick for sticking with their word and giving a real chance to some up and coming young players: Byron Glasgow and Neville Roach both stepped into the starting line ups for the first time. They both certainly played their part to reward the manager's faith in them.
There was only one team in it for most of the first half. Oldham seemed like they'd alredy excepted relegation from the kick off. They knew they were going to lose. Reading also seemed to lack any real urgency but continued to create chances as Oldham defended very badly. A couple of times through the middle we were unmarked - giving shooting chances. Archie almost put the Royals up early on. The two youngsters setting up the chance - Roach on the right played the ball to Glasgow who knocked it to the advancing Archie in the middle. Archie took a swing at it and was unlucky to see his low drive hit the foot of the left post.
Moments later a sneaky bit of work from Bodin almost gave Lambert a goal. Bodin took a quick free kick down the left wing and played it forward to Lambert who cut into the box. Lamberts rising shot was well saved by the Oldham keeper who dived and pushed the ball wide to his left. Gooding was next to find the defence nowhere and tried a long range effort which again needed a pretty nifty save from the keeper. Meanwhile Mautone must have been dropping off to sleep.
Reading eventually took the lead with about 30 minutes gone. Glasgow was giving a defender a bit of hassle - enough to make him play the ball back. But not hard enough. With the defence frozen Roach took full advantage and was first to get off the mark, outpacing his marker. With the defender closing and the keeper coming off his line Roach shot over the keeper and into the right side of the net. Yes! 1-0 to the Royals - and a great, well deserved, goal - what a way to make your debut.
Archie should have extended Reading's lead before half time after the defence were again nowhere after a ball over from Williams. He took too long, the defence caught up, and it came to nothing.
Blatherwick continued his continual improvement in form and again was magnificent. He cut out everything in the air, and combined with Macca and Bernal gave Mautone little to worry about all half.
Reading were content just to knock it around a bit more. Then Oldham appeared to score with a header only for the goal to be ruled out for, I think, a foul on Macca. It took about 5 minutes for the away fans to notice it was a goal kick and not a centre and took them another 10 minutes to calm down and stop bouncing. I've never seen supporters so happy with losing. They seemed to be enjoying it as much as us - they must have seen some really bad games this season.
The second half got underway in a very casual manner with Oldham getting a bit more of the play but still doing nothing. It seemed it was only a matter of time before we pulled further ahead. Lambert played the ball across goal from the left but no one could make contact - Archie must have been inches from the ball. And then later Archie almost connected with a header inside the area. Williams charged through down the right and into the area but saw his effort blocked. Then down the other end a cross from the right saw Bernal jump onto the Oldham forward inside the area for a penalty when there looked to be little danger.
The penalty lacked any real effort but Mautone still saved well to his left getting down quickly. What a class keeper - buy of the season I feel. Oldham somehow looked like they could equalise but it wasn't to be their day - like it hasn't been their season. With a bit of luck they could have pulled something from this game - perhaps even won it. But with a goal disallowed, a penalty saved they seemed never to get it in. They hit the crossbar and completely mis-hit a number of shots that should have at least been on target.
With 10 minutes left Reading showed how it should be done. A Bodin corner from the right and an Archie header in the middle. Roach tried to get the last touch - but Archie's goal: and 2-0 to the Royals. A straight-forward enough, but deserved win.
OK, it's a cliche - but Glasgow and Roach are definately ones for the future. They both put in some great touches, some nice passes, and set chances up. Roach took his goal well and was clearly up for getting a second. They both had excellent games - expect to see a lot more of these two next season.
The players stayed on the pitch for a while, Steve Mautone threw his shirt into the South Bank, we all applauded, and then that was that - the last game at Elm Park for a few months.
Oldham were condemned to almost certain relegation as they surrendered without a fight at Reading. The Latics looked resigned to their division two fate from the off, and it only added insult to injury when Andy Ritchie missed a penalty midway through the second half. Reading almost took the lead after just four minutes when teenagers Neville Roach and Byron Glasgow combined well to set up Stuart Lovell, whose 15-yard drive thumped against the foot of the post. James Lambert and Mick Gooding both went close to opening the scoring for Reading, before 18-year-old Roach marked his full debut with a goal on 28 minutes. The striker, who has hit 43 goals for Reading's youth and reserve sides, latched on to a poor back pass from Andy Hughes and skipped past Shaun Garnett, before curling a perfect shot past goalkeeper Gary Kelly. Roach almost engineered a second, early in the second half, when he hit a superb low ball across the six-yard box which just evaded the lurking Lovell and Martin Williams. Oldham must have sensed a glimmer of hope on 61 minutes when Andy Bernal's shove on Sean McCarthy earned a penalty from referee Uriah Rennie. But the experienced Ritchie saw Steve Mautone dive to his left to save the spot kick. Their relegation was all but sealed on 81 minutes when Lovell's deflected header from substitute Darren Caskey's corner flew past the stranded Kelly, for Reading's second.
READING TEENAGER ROACHE HELPS TO CONDEMN LATICS
Reading's teenaged goal hero Neville Roache was ecstatic, after scoring on his full debut for the team he supported as a boy, as the Royals beat Oldham 2-0. "I'm really delighted. It was a poor back pass from the defender, and I just took advantage of it," said 18-year-old Roache. "Everything has happened so quickly -- it's just a dream come true." Oldham manager Neil Warnock, meanwhile, was resigned to the drop, although his side could still mathematically stay in the first division. Warnock admitted: "We didn't get the rub of the green this afternoon, but you don't get relegated because of just one game." The Oldham boss felt a disallowed goal for Sean McCarthy may have been a turning point. "I thought McCarthy's disallowed goal was a harsh decision. None of the Reading players or fans had any complaints about it, but unfortunately the man who matters did."