MATCH REPORT: 2003/2004 Season

28 February 2004: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Reading: Shorey (25 mins), Goater (34 mins, pen).
Sheff Utd:
Gray (10 mins).
Half Time: 2-1
Attendance: 15,545

DIVISION ONE 28 Feb 2004
Pos Team P Pts GD
7 Sheff Utd 33 52 +8
8 READING 33 52 -2
9 C Palace 34 50 +5
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty (Newman 85), Williams, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Hughes (Murray 65), Sidwell, Harper, Salako, Goater (Kitson 78), Owusu. Subs not used: Brooker, Young.
Sheff Utd:
Kenny, Kozluk, Page, Jagielka, Whitlow (Allison 89), Robinson (Peschisolido 74), Montgomery, Tonge, Gray, Ward, Parkinson (Ndlovu 71). Subs not used: Cryan, Shaw.
Reading: Owusu, Sidwell, Williams.
Sheff Utd:
Montgomery, Page, Whitlow.
Referee: M Clattenburg (Northumberland)

Following report from John Wells:
Roared on by incessant chanting from three sides of the stadium throughout the closing stages of the game, Reading secured three hard earned points against their fourth placed rivals. Reading were the more enterprising team in the first half and deservedly lead 2 - 1 at the interval. Then through sheer grit and determination held on for vital win in spite of their opponents attempts to intimidate and some extremely poor refereeing. I had been looking forward to this game and I was not disappointed.

United were given a scare early in the game when Sidwell swept a free kick across to Shorey who immediately delivered a good early ball into the near post which gave Goater a half chance and had Kenny scrambling to gather. In the opening ten minutes Reading stamped their authority on the game and then against the run of play conceded a goal. It came from United's most effective ploy - the long throw. The ball fell to new signing Gray who hammered the ball home through a crowded area. There was not much anyone could have done to prevent it. The reaction from Reading was admirable.

Spurred on by Harper and Sidwell in particular, who were dominant in midfield, the Royals went about their task with purpose and determination. It was Harper's tenacity which forced United to stop his progress with a trip on the edge of the box. Shorey curled the free kick inside the post with a superb left foot strike. Reading were prepared to match United in the physical battle to gain control and eight minutes before half time, it was another Harper surging run which produced a penalty. Goater stepped up and drove the ball high in to the net to the 'keeper's right. As hard as the visitors tried they could not force Reading onto the back foot. The referee was worryingly looking out of his depth and making some strange decisions.

Play became stretched in the second half as United pressed for an equaliser. Reading were looking dangerous on the break but failed to make the most of some promising opportunities. Reading found it hard to keep the ball but were not allowing United time on the ball so possession was being lost frequently by both sides. United increased the pressure on the Reading defence towards the end of the game but when Gray's header hit the post on seventy six minutes I began to feel it was going to be our day.

Reading seemed to sit back to protect their lead and had to endure some unpleasant challenges and poor refereeing. The referee was quite happy to allow Salako and Shorey to be elbowed in the head right under his nose, and yet saw fit to book several players for what appeared to be petty offences. Ironically all this helped Reading in the end. As we know it takes a lot to get the Madejski crowd going but, the anger at United's tactics, the injustice of the refereeing, and the gritty response from the Reading team, brought the home crowd to the boil. Today I am sure the noise they made inspired the players and intimidated their opponents. It was a pity that Kitson, who came on for Goater for the last ten minutes, did not put the icing on the cake when he only had the 'keeper to beat, but I have a feeling his time will come.

United must have found it very difficult to play against Reading today. Ingimarsson and Williams solid at the back, Shorey and Murty a threat going forward, and Goater and Owusu combining well up front. In the centre of midfield Sidwell and Harper were superb. Sidwell won possesion so convincingly and so often there were occasions when some United players seemd to lose their appetite to compete with him. Harper's work rate was phenominal and his attitude was an inspiration to everyone. He really wanted to win, a feeling he expressed in his play and in the way he commincated to everyone around him. If there was weakness it was Hughes. He provided defensive cover intelligently when Murty surged forward but times he just didn't seem to know what to do on or off the ball, so it was no surprise when he was replaced by Muray for the last twenty five minutes.

This was a very important and satisfying result which keeps us in play-off contention. What was encouraging was the attitude within the side today. With some really tough games coming it is determination that is going to count as much, if not more , than playing good football. However as United found to their cost today, you can't kick your way into the promotion places. They simply did not have the guile or the power to overcome Reading. The result at Rotherham upset quite a few people, but maybe that performance has taught us a lesson. We have picked up seven points from three very tough game since then.

Following report by Matthew Williams:
After a match against Burnley on Tuesday night which needed a last-gasp hoof up the field to earn a draw, the Reading fans had every right to be expecting the worst before yesterday's match. Sheff Utd were much better placed than Burnley were going into their respective matches with Reading, and to most Reading fans Sheff Utd looked like the team most likely to be victorious. So what a nice suprise it was for all the fans when the referee finally blew his whistle after 94 hard-fought minutes.

After a fairly even opening 10 minutes Sheff Utd scored a route-one goal as Ward used his strentgh to control a (foul) throw from Kozluk. He played the ball back to new signing Gray, who thumped an unstoppable shot passed Hahnemann. The fans knew that it would be how Reading reacted to this goal that would determine the rest of the game. Too many times this season have we seen the players drop their heads and play cluelessly for the remainder of the match. Maybe it was because Reading were playing a highly placed team, maybe it was because Warnock was managing the opposition side, or maybe it was something else, but Reading stayed positive and got on with playing the game at their pace and the rest of the half was dominated by the home side.

Fifteen minutes after United took the lead Harper, who was showing signs of last seasons form, managed to win a free kick about 25 yards from goal. Nicky Shorey stepped up and memories of his free-kick versus Walsall earlier in the season came flooding back as the ball sailed into the top corner. The next big question for the Reading fans was how Reading would react to this equaliser. Would they relax after clawing their way back into the game or would they continue with this upbeat tempo? Even before I had sent my jubilant 'we have equalised and are still the best team in the world' text the question was answered. Reading won the ball back and much to the crowds delight attacked again, and again, and again. This part of the game pushed memories of Burnley out of every fans mind, and when Harper produced another mazy run into the box Reading had a chance to double the lead after he was tripped by a United defender. Now penalties haven't been one of Reading's biggest strengths this season but Goater slammed the ball home confidently, putting Reading ahead for the first time in the game.

The second half was nervy, and United pushed for an equaliser, but even when the referee joined United's attack they still couldn't find a way through. Hahnemann produced one excellent save tipping a shot over and although my vision was obscured by a crowd of players I'm also pretty sure that United hit the post towards the end. But Reading hung on well as the defence looked more solid with Williams back. Kitson could have even put the game beyond doubt in the final minutes but Kenny stopped him opening his Royals account. So, with almost the whole crowd uncharactaristically joining in with a chant of blue-army that sent shivers down my spine, the referee finally gave up on trying to force an equaliser and ended one of the best team performances of the season.


That's more like it! It may have been like the Alamo in the second half with us being battered by the Blades but three points it is and six this season against one of the top teams in this mad division. The atmosphere was incomparable to Tuesday night and I'm sure that had an effect on the players, not sure if the song sheets given out before the game had any effect but don't knock anything that has a go at raising the noise at the Mad Stad. We're still clearly not good enough to go up, but as long as we stay there or there abouts around the play offs who knows . Good to see Ade Williams back but he continues to fart about like Beckenbauer and often puts us in trouble, but his good points far out weigh the bad. Another good game from Harper who did his best to boss the midfield and played his heart out, including the most blatant penalty you'll see all season. Poor Hughsey, I'm starting to feel sorry for him now, why does Coppell persist with him, god knows, as his passing has now deteriorated into the Barry Hunter Giraffe class. Sign Owusu Mr Mad as he continues to do well and wins so much in the air, fair play to the Goat who looks a bit better, fitter and is worth a good hour each game , Fossie can't come back quick enough. Preston next, will be very tough , very , and a point will be a great result. It's a funny season, we're in a great position in the league, but in our hearts we know we're not going up this year, but like a little terrier, we wont let go, funny game you know,ask Mr Warnock! Urrzz
Nick Newbury

Great game, great team work and a well deserved result. Can we make the play offs..YES, but we need to improve in a few areas. Firstly, stop the unnecessary bookings, Williams, Sidwell and rather harshly Murray all booked. Great to show commitment but we need these players available not suspended. John Salako? Brings experience but not really capable of 90 mins. Keep him as a sub, ideal to bring on last 20mins. The Goat...gets goals but needs to be more physical in the box....hurry back Nicky Forster. Marcus, good keeper but now needs someone to challenge him for his place...that will bring the very best out of him. Steve Coppell? Doing Ok but only OK, certainly got the team together for the Sheffield game but what about Rotherham, Preston and Burnley to name a few? Don't forget he took over a good side and Pards( sorry to mention him) always seemed to get the best out of them. Come on Steve be positive quotes like ' it was a good result for us' after Ipswich? If we are to get any where we need to win at home and build on our already good reputation. It was a good result for Ipswich we dropped 2 points. Ok enough moans, I think we are on the right track for the play offs, team spirit seems to be returning ,well done the Royals. I will continue to make my 200 mile round trip for home games.

Got an opinion? E-Mail us at
Appropriate submissions will appear on match report pages

Quick Links:
  [Match Reports Index]   [Match Previews Index]   [Current League Table]

Link to Hob Nob Anyone? Home Page
Copyright Hob Nob Anyone? © 1994-2004

The Original Reading Football Club Internet Site