Match Report vs Stoke City

29 November 1997 (League Division One)
Stoke 1 READING 2

Att: 11,100

Team: Hammond, Booty, Swales, Lambert (Hodges), McPherson, Primus, Parkinson, Houghton, Asaba (Thorp), Morley, Williams (Caskey).
Subs Not used: All used.

Here's the report from the Evening Post, by Clive Baskerville:

TWO-GOAL Trevor Morley helped Reading rediscover winning ways on Saturday but it was keeper Nicky Hammond who ensured they held on to all three points. The former West Ham striker showed there is still plenty of life left in his 36-year-old frame as he converted a penalty and then slid in a second goal from close range as Royals dominated the first hour. But it took several top-class saves from Hammond to keep their noses in front as Stoke staged a grandstand finish that threatened to undo Reading's good work. The win, only Royals' second away in the Nationwide League Division 1 this term, was their third at Stoke this decade and lifted them three places up the table. Morley said: "We made hard work of it towards the end, Nicky played superbly. "After last week's 4-0 home defeat by Ipswich it was imperative we got a win and we bounced back well. I was pleased to score twice, although credit for the second must go to a great ball from Martyn Booty. But the whole team battled well for the points against a difficult side. Morley finished with a few bumps and bruises,but it didn't bother him".He said: "The body takes longer to recover as I get older but I'm sure I'll be okay in a couple of days. I'm just glad to be back fit after my knee operation in April, although I still reckon I've got a bit more sharpness to come. The main thing is I still have the desire to play".Hammond, 30, is also revelling in his return to the side after a year in the wilderness following a back operation.

He said: "I was pleased with some of my saves, but I thought we owed the fans that performance after last week's display. Despite that loss, I didn't think I played too badly against Ipswich but it was nice for things to go right against Stoke. Hammond mixed a couple of acrobatic saves with some brave blocks as Stoke finally found their feet in the closing stages. Top of the stops was a full- length dive to deny substitute Danny Tiatto, although Hammond also made three good saves from former Swindon team-mate Peter Thorne. There were plenty of other good performances in Royals' team to savour". Phil Parkinson gave a typical gutsy display in midfield alongside the influential Ray Houghton, who knitted Royals' passing game together well. Martin Williams was back to his best on the right, setting up both goals with his own brand of pace, power and trickery before fading in the closing stages. The defence looked far more confident and assured than the previous week, with Booty making a telling contribution on his return at right back for the injured Andy Bernal. James Lambert was reinstated on the left at the expense of Darren Caskey, who was relegated to the bench, as Reading reverted back to a 4-4-2 formation. Also on the bench were Lee Hodges and Michael Thorp, making his first senior appearance in a Reading shirt since the Coca-Cola Cup tie at Leeds in January 1996. For the Reading fans who braved the wet weather, the trip to Stoke's spacious new ground proved a rewarding, if somewhat cold experience. Although it's less than a mile from the old Victoria Ground, the all-seater Brit-annia Stadium is situated on a hill with precious protection against a wind that whips in off surrounding hills and through gaps at the sides of the stands.

Stoke, who have aspirations of reaching the play-offs, had the wind in their favour in the first half but couldn't get their game going at all. Reading won most of the loose balls in midfield and played almost all the good football in the first half. Williams proved the main cutting edge down the right, where he set up most of the telling attacks. His first contribution came on 15 minutes when he hit a fine far-post cross from the goal-line and Morley got up well to nod just wide. Stoke responded with shots wide from Richard Forsyth and Graham Kavanagh before a flick from Williams after a free kick by Houghton forced Muggleton to make a diving stop.

Williams then set up Morley, who shot wide following a quick turn. The opening goal arrived on 31 minutes when Royals were awarded a penalty after Williams had been tripped by Stoke centre-back Larus Sigurdsson. MORLEY made it 11 successful spot kick attempts in a row when he thumped the ball high into the net. Stoke should have equalised on the stroke of half-time but Paul Stewart, who had a nightmare afternoon, was denied by a brave save from Hammond.

Morley had a good chance to add a second goal three minutes after the restart but sliced wide after Carl Asaba had flicked on Booty's cross. MORLEY made up for that miss by sliding in from a similar position on 59 minutes after Williams and Booty had linked up down the right. Stoke, who had already squandered several good chances, were denied twice in two minutes. Hammond made an excellent save from Tiatto, while Booty cleared a Sigurdsson header off the line. Muggleton made a good stop from an Asaba drive on 71 minutes, but Stoke had most of the pressure near the end. It culminated in a goal for THORNE on 81 minutes after a run by Forsyth and cross by Neil Mackenzie. The closing stages were hectic as Stoke piled forward but no one could deny Reading's early good work had earned them the right to all three points. Booty and Swales were booked for Reading, while Stoke's Thorne and Forsyth were also yellow-carded.

STOKE CITY: Muggleton, Pickering, Griffin, Sigurdsson, Tweed, Keen, Forsyth, Andrade (Tiatto 58 mins), Thorne, Stewart (Mackenzie 72 mins), Kavanagh. Sub (not used): Whittle

READING: Hammond, Booty, Swales, Lambert (Hodges 79 mins), McPherson, Primus, Parkinson, Houghton, Asaba (Thorp 90 mins), Morley, Williams (Caskey 82 mins).

Referee: Trevor Jones (Barrow). Attendance: 11,103.

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