SWINDON TOWN 0 READING 1 (Half Time: 0-0)
Cureton (51 mins)
Swindon Town Scorers: -
|Date: 27 March
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
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.
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.
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.
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 totally agree with Tony.
I agree with all of the above comments. The atmosphere was very tame,
even before we all got drenched.
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