(Half Time: 0-0)
Reading Scorers: Cureton (51 mins)
Swindon Town Scorers: -
Date: 27 March 2001
Attendance: 9,674

Reading: Whitehead, Robinson, Hunter, Whitbread, Newman, Parkinson, Murty, Harper, Cureton (Henderson), Butler, McIntyre. Subs not used: Howie, Jones, Caskey, Igoe.

Swindon: Mildenhall, Robinson (Invincible), Davis, Hewlett, O'Halloran, Reddy (Grazioli), Alexander (van der Linden), Heywood, Reeves, Robinson, Woan. Subs not used: Griemink, McAreavey.

Bookings: Reeves, Robinson (Swindon); Butler, Cureton, McIntyre (Reading).
Referee: D R Elleray (Harrow-on-the-Hill)

In front of the best away support of the season, Reading made up for Friday's defeat with a single goal victory over local rivals Swindon. The ground was an awesome sight, with Reading fans filling both the end behind the goal and the half of the Arkells Stand that we were allocated. Over three thousand travelling Royals made up a third of the attendance, and comfortably outsung the few Swindon fans that could be bothered to turn up.

On the pitch, it wasn't one of Reading's better displays and to be honest the players can consider themselves very lucky to have got the win. But at such a crucial time of the season, it's spirit and determination that count - and it's obvious that Reading have a lot more of those qualities than Swindon.

It was Jamie Cureton who got the winner, netting his first since scoring the only goal in our win over Swansea in February. It was the sort of goal that should show Alan Pardew exactly why Butler and Cureton should always start together when available, as the move was perfect. A counter-attack from the Royals got the ball to Butler down the right. He outpaced the Swindon defence, while partner Cureton made a perfectly timed run into the box. Butler cut the ball back at exactly the right moment, and Cureton was there to make a simple finish and give Reading the lead.

Cureton was able to celebrate in front of the masses of Reading fans, and the celebrations were justified as it could prove to be one of the most important goals of the season. It looked at times tonight that we would struggle to get anything from the game, so the win we eventually managed seems even better on reflection.

Reading had started the game very poorly, and were outplayed by Swindon in the first half. Pardew had started with the same side that lost to Bristol City except for the inclusion of Cureton instead of Rougier, who was on international duty with Trinidad. That meant Ricky Newman kept his place at right-back, with Murty in midfield and Caskey left out once again.

Swindon looked much better than their league position suggests, and made a number of dangerous moves in the first half that somehow failed to produce a goal. Ricky Newman made one vital interception to stop Alexander going through on goal, and shortly after that Whitehead was forced to save well at his near post after Ian Woan had found space on the left. There was an even more nervous moment close to half-time, as a shot from the Swindon right found its way through a crowd of players and flew past the post.

Reading had created nothing in the first half, and despite a brief spell of pressure towards the end of the half the Royals failed to produce a worthwhile shot on goal. Fortunately that changed in the second half, as Cureton's goal came just six minutes after the re-start. Despite having had just one chance all match, we were in the lead and Swindon were somehow on the back foot.

It should have been two later on, as Cureton and Butler combined well again to put Cureton through on goal. He somehow blazed over the bar though, ensuring yet another incredibly nervous end to the match. It was all Swindon for the last fifteen minutes, which seemed to drag on forever as Reading tried to hold out. There were plenty of goalmouth scrambles, as Reading resorted to defending in mass numbers to keep hold of their lead. Yet the Royals just couldn't clear the ball, and on one occasion Swindon had four shots at goal in one attack, as every blocked effort seemed to find another red shirt.

There was surprise introduction for Darius Henderson towards the end, making his first appearance in a long time as he came on for Jamie Cureton. Unfortunately he didn't have much to do, as the ball remained in the Reading half for the rest of the game.

Reading managed to hold out, helped considerably by the weakness of the Swindon attack. If the Robins could find some strikers as good as their midfield, they would be pushing for promotion instead of fighting relegation. We were also indebted to Phil Whitehead, who was man of the match after two outstanding saves in the last ten minutes. One was the kind of reflex save that only top class keepers make, and ensured that Swindon failed to score yet again and Reading had another massive win.

Millwall could only draw at Wycombe, and with Rotherham not playing we made up some ground on the top two. Saturday sees another big challenge as play-off hopefuls Notts County come to the Madejski - hopefully we'll make as much noise then as we did at Swindon, and spur Reading on to another win.
Report by Neil Cole.

Post Match Opinions

This was a great result for Reading after last Friday's loss against Bristol City. However, they picked up where they left off, and in the first half it was the same sort of performance: misplaced passes, gaps at the back for their woeful strikers to exploit and lots of huff and puff. There wasn't a lot of sexy football out there! The only thing to get the pulse going was the potential trouble in the corner between the fans. This also faded away to nothing. Half time and we're starting to get wet. Pards must have thrown a few tea cups around at half-time because in the second half it was much better. On 51 minutes Cureton got on the end of an excellent Butler cross and in it goes. "1-0 to the Blue and Whites". The fans were more relieved than ecstatic, and considering this was a "big" local derby, I thought the atmosphere was pretty tame. The big man in the yellow away shirt tried all evening to get the fans going behind the goal, but it never really happened. Top marks for trying though mate, whoever you are.
With Millwall dropping points at Wycombe tonight it made the wet drive back up the M5 more bearable.
Come on you RRRRs!

-- Telford Royal

Poor little Robins, tweet tweet! Totally outplay us in the first half, had about a millions shots, all saved by the mighty Whitehead in superb form and end up losing to the mighty Royals who end up taken six points off our so called bitter rivals.
A classic smash and grab by Reading if ever I've seen one.
Great goal by Cureton who could have well wrapped the game up for us with the other great chances he had . All that matters though is for the remaining matches to go just as what happened last night, we all don't give a toss about the football played as long as we get the three points. In saying that the fact we couldn't pass the ball three feet in the first half and find another Royal was very worrying and will have to be addressed. Whitehead really was the hero, with a string of stunning saves. It was hard to see from behind out goal standing out in the monsoon, where one wouldn't have been surprised if a lifeboat had come on as a sub!
All the lads worked their nuts off so no stick to anybody in particular, though Twizzle again tried very hard to get a mention! Millwall must be bricking themselves now... we all know how important Saturday is... as every game will be till the end of the season...

-- Nick Newbury

It is, I suppose, churlish to be criticising the management of the club when we are in such an impressive position in the league but I am finding it increasingly more difficult to agree with anything Alan Pardew does. I was at the game at Swindon last night and to be very honest Swindon were well and truly robbed. They are clearly a poor side, as their league position suggests, but without an exceptional performance by Phil Whitehead, we could have lost by 3 or 4 goals.
The long ball game is appalling to watch and, I am sure for the players, destructive to their careers to play in. Take Martin Butler; he was superb until the long ball was introduced and apart from his goals at Wrexham, has by his standards been very poor. He is not an out and target man, he clearly needs the ball at his feet. The same applies to Jamie Cureton; what use is a ball aimed at his throat. He is probably the best striker in the lower divisions - with the ball at his feet. He gets dropped from the side if he doesn't score even if he has not received a single pass.
At the beginning of the season statistics suggested that we had more shots at goal than any other team - that is no longer the case, we are struggling to shoot let alone score. We appear to have far less possession than the opposition because we give it away so easily. Alan Pardew has denied that he has changed the way we play and that he endorses the long ball game. If that is the case then watch Mad Dog the next time we play. He used to spend the match winding up the opposition and urging the Royals on. Now he makes arc-like motions with his hands encouraging the players to hoof it forward.
Poor James Harper, clearly a great prospect, but nobody ever passes to him. Finally, and yes I know I go on, what is Pardew doing to Darren Caskey. He had his contract talks stopped until we sold players. Since then we have signed other players and given contracts to Pardew and Allen (I'm not criticising Allen by the way). Caskey, is probably the best midfielder in the division - 23 goals last season 8 more this, selected by fellow pros as PFA div 2 representative and voted player of the year by Reading fans. Caskey's goals last season probably saved Pardew's job. He has been dropped again for the second time this season and is clearly being dumped by the club. Caskey himself admits that he loves the club and the town - so why are they so keen to get rid of him. A suitable replacement will cost a million pounds. It just does not make sense.
If we go up I am happy to accept that my criticism of the management is slightly premature but I am not sure how long the supporters would be prepared to watch this alien style of hoofball if we stop winning.
Why do the Reading fans never sing Alan Pardew's name - because in the main they do not like him or his economical use of the truth. Yeah, yeah I know some of you people out there like him - but I think he has a lot to do to get it right. Alan Pardew, the man who criticised Mark McGhee (the man who managed the greatest ever Reading football team).

-- Tony Spackman, Cholsey.
Supporter for 40 years and current season ticket holder. (I only say that because I feel it entitles me to an opinion).

What is it with Reading supporters? The team gets a sniff of success and all the part-time supporters emerge from the Berkshire backwoods and start whinging about the way the team are not playing a passing game. What is this mythical passing game? The one that kept them in the bottom half of the league for 55 years straight I suppose?
I started following Reading in 1983 and I very soon became accustomed to what I would call the Tilehurst Ender. There was one of them sitting next to me on Friday night for the Bristol City game, you know the type – ‘Arrghh, that would ha’ been a goal in my day’ when a forward mugs the keeper and carries him and the ball into the net. The Tilehurst Ender always has a refrain, a dumb comment that he makes five or six times until somebody tells him to shut up. This one’s was ‘He hasn’t got a clue’ every time Parky was in possession.
Two points to note here.
The choice is always a long serving player ‘cos he’s the only one the T. Ender recognizes from the last time he watched the team and (two) the remark is patently untrue to anyone who knows what the hell they are talking about. (I’m not talking about the last miserable twenty minutes of the game here either but the first half when Parky was playing out of his effing skin (as usual)). The result was awful but nothing like as bad as the remarks coming from the bloke next door. Which brings me to Tony Spackman’s comments. You are absolutely right to say ‘It is churlish to be criticising the management when we are in such an impressive position in the league.’ I didn’t see the game but I don’t give a toss that we didn’t play like Brazil and they did or whatever, what bloody delights me is that we scored and stopped them from scoring. At this stage of the season that is bloody perfect.
As for Caskey, some rough-and-ready statistics, 15 goals in 130 appearances for Reading prior to Pardew’s tenure, 29 goals in 70 while AP has been in charge. So Pardew doesn’t know what he’s doing? This little diatribe isn’t meant to be directed at you, Mr Spackmen, its just that your remarks set me off. Keep the faith.

-- Walthamstow Dog

I totally agree with Tony.
We are in the position we're in in spite of Pardew, not because of him.
His team selections are often totally baffling, and his treatment of Caskey and Cureton has been disgusting. Under "Pards", Reading have become the kind of long ball team we all used to despise when we were a decent passing team managed by McGhee. I seem to remember that team actually entertaining the fans.....

-- Crowthorne royal

I agree with all of the above comments. The atmosphere was very tame, even before we all got drenched.
It must be soul destroying being a Reading striker, I thought Butler and Cureton worked really hard and never stopped running but why we couldn't realise that after the 10th long ball had skidded off the greasy surface and out of play that this was probably the wrong tactic, is beyond me. Robinson seemed well off the boil and we were second to the ball throughout the whole of the first half. Whitehead was outstanding and I thought Cureton's goal was brilliantly finished off - when we got back to the car the guy on BBC Radio Berkshire said it was the easiest goal he would ever score - maybe it looked different from behind the goal. Without doubt Caskey, in the middle is a quality player - it is little wonder that his form is inconsistent when the Managing of him is inconsistent.

-- Chris B, GCS

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