MATCH REPORT: 2004/2005 Season

14 September 2004: LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Kitson (11 mins), Forster (34 mins, 85 mins).
Healy (45 mins).
Half Time: 2-1
Attendance: 11,857

Pos Team P Pts GD
4 West Ham 8 16 +2
5 READING 8 15 +3
6 Watford 7 13 +7
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Williams, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Hughes (Convey 74), Sidwell, Harper, Brooker, Kitson, Forster. Subs Not Used: Sonko, Goater, Newman, Young.
Preston: Lonergan, Mawene, Curtis, Lucketti, Alexander, McKenna (Skora 64), Lewis, Etuhu, O'Neil, Healy, Cresswell. Subs Not Used: Daley, Smith, Lynch, Ward.
Reading: -
Alexander, Mawene.
Referee: R Beeby (Northamptonshire).

Two excellent goals by Nicky Forster helped Reading to a 3-1 home victory against Preston North End tonight. The result - Reading's biggest win of the season and the fourth straight home victory - was enough to lift the Royals to fifth in the Championship table. Dave Kitson gave Reading the lead after just eleven minutes when a Brooker cross saw the Preston defence in all sorts of confusion. The keeper appeared to get lost in his area and a shot ended up being a pass to Kitson who stuck it home from deep inside the area. Kitson could have had a second but put his shot over the crossbar, however Forster doubled Reading's lead just after the half hour mark when a Brooker through ball saw Forster run past his marker and finish well. Just before the break a Preston free-kick on the edge of the box had it 2-1 off the foot of Hahnemann's right post. The second half was a scrappy affair as Preston enjoyed a fair bit of possession without ever looking that dangerous. With the visitors contained and looking unlikely to pull level it was up to Forster to finish the scoring inside the last five minutes - and it was an impressive end to the goals. Forster picked up the ball well inside the Reading half and ran free shrugging off a couple of Preston defenders, continuing deep inside the Preston half before driving the ball low past the keeper to make it 3-1.

Following report from John Wells:
Two fine goals from Nicky Forster provided Reading with a valuable three points in a game which hung in the balance for most of the second half. The Royals attacked with style and purpose in the opening phase of the game and threatened to finish off their opponents by half time after taking a two goal lead. On the stroke of half time their lead was reduced when the referee was conned into awarding a free kick on the edge of the box which Healy drilled into the bottom corner past an unsighted Hahnemann. It set up a tense and scrappy second half. The result was ultimately settled by a superb solo effort from Forster five minutes from the end.

Reading's play in the first half demonstrated their attacking potential. They swept forward quickly and incisively. Kitson could have scored twice in the opening three minutes. A glancing header from a Shorey cross flew wide, and a wild swing which sent the ball high over the bar after an excellent first touch. Shorey again supplied the ball. The breakthrough was not long in arriving, courtesy of a misunderstanding in the Preston defence. Lonergan dropped the ball after colliding with his own defender and Forster poked the ball to Kitson who slid the ball into the net unchallenged. There was not much of a response from the visitors and it was no surprise when the Royals went further ahead through Forster. Brooker threaded a good ball down the middle which Forster controlled and turned smartly before hammering the ball across the keeper with his left foot.

The referee, who for some reason allowed fouls on Kitson to go unpunished all evening, then gave Preston a free kick for a slight nudge on Cresswell by Ingimarsson and Healy took advantage by burying the ball in the bottom corner. Unjust for Reading, and encouraging for the visitors.

The second half was an uninspiring spectacle as Reading seemed intent on containment, which they did well, but was frustrating for the home fans as possession was often conceded too easily. It is hard to say if it was a lack of confidence or a lack of ambition but either way Preston had a lot of the ball. Ethutu was allowed to dominate midfield. Things were not helped by Harper having an off day. Too often Reading chose the option of rolling the ball back for Hahnemann to launch forward only to see Preston's centre backs (after pushing Kitson out of the way) head it back into Reading territory. It got monotonous for a while! Then, shortly after North End came close to equalising through a Cresswell header, Forster finally put them out of their misery allowing many of the travelling fans to make an early start to the long journey home. The goal was worthy of three points. Fozzy picked the ball up deep in his own half and set off on a run. Luckettti toyed with idea of bringing him down as he set off, but changed his mind and just had a nibble at his ankles, a decision which he probably regretted afterwards, although he must have been mindful of his earlier yellow card. Persued by several different opponents Fozzy just kept accelerating towards goal and ended his run with a great strike, this time with his right foot into the corner of the net. It was classic example of great pace and clinical finishing. The goal provided Reading with the opportunity to spend the closing minutes passing the ball around in the way they should have done more often.

It was a far from flawless performance, but good defending and sharp finishing sound very much like a recipe for success to me.


Anybody seeing this result would have thought, well played Reading good result. Good result it certainly was but well played it certainly wasn't. How in gods name we scored three goals I'll never know. This was a truly awful performance by every single Reading player bar one, and out of the dross emerged one true piece of class and that was Nicky Forster who scored a quite outstanding goal to secure the three points. Having picked the ball up deep in our half he set about running at the Preston defence beating four players before drawing the keeper a cooly slotting the ball home, brilliant, simply brilliant, you won't see a better goal all season. Apart from that not a lot more to say, sloppy passing, big hopeful hoofs up front, poor control, no passing, inability to hold the ball and midfield way too deep. I know it seems hard having won 3-1 but it really was poor. Still three points it is and we find ourselves up to fifth with a great chance of another three points on Saturday against Gillingham to maybe go top three. With Stoke topping the league to me it just proves how open the league is this year with most teams being all of the same, pretty crap in the main. Watching the Champions league after the game on Sky you'd have thought we were watching another sport compared to what we pay to watch. If Forster had scored his goal in the Champions league they'd showing it for over and over, sadly only those that were there tonight witnessed it first hand. Must play better Saturday, sure we will, won't we? UURRZ
Nick Newbury

Possession of the ball is meant to be the key to success in today's modern football. Well Reading keep rewriting the rule book. It is hard to know how to evaluate such a performance. The defence were superb and the forwards scored thre goals, but why do we have so little possession? The key to thius must be the midfield who are emphasing their defensive role far too much. This combined with a game where Marcus's kicking can best be described as appauling! The game started well with both teams giving it a go and with pace. The fact that we got into a two goal lead should have bred confidence. Both goals were well taken and Brooker was involved in both. The free kick from which Preston scored just before halftime looked dubious but it almost seemed inevitable that they would score which is what they did. If you saw the Sunderland game then that was the second half. Preston had the better possession but did not work the keeper - in fact I only remeber Marcus having to make one save and they had a header in the second half when they might have done better. Our strikers becaome isolated, Kitson seemed more concerned about trying to win a free kick than the ball and Forster was largely anonymous till he scored the goal that will be remebered for many a long time. With Goater warming up to replace him (An honest confession from the manager afterwards), he got the ball in his own half and off he went, not stopping till he had calmly slotted the ball in the bottom corner - a terrific goal. Then the game was over, but such a strange game. The defense is obviously working well as a unit and because of this offer less going forward. In midfield Harper worked hard but his distribution was poor and Preston were excellent at closing people down. I thought Sidwell had a better game and Brooker is improving with each game. Whilst the front two can be pleased with their individual games, I still did not see much of them working as a pair, but if they score three goals between them every game who cares?
Ken C

Didn't hear Coppell's comments after the game but if he is satisfied with the performance he is deluding himself. Apparently he has been complaining about players giving the ball away. This was happening so often last night it was embarrassing. There was no skill factor in the midfield at all, just hard work and this won the game plus a goal keeping blunder and two excellent finishes from Forster. The team is missing a Watson type player to lead the passing game (is it coincidence that Colchester are doing so well?). This a big season for Harper and Sidwell. They work very hard but do they have premiership potential or are they just run of the mill second division players?
Chris Tubb (Swansea based Royal)

Plus points from the game;- 3 points, both strikers on the score sheet, some good passing & movement at times, Reading stay very much in the thick of things near the top of the table. Negatives;- defending too deep AGAIN in 2nd half, giving the opposition too much room in the midfield (allowing them to turn, run at defence, etc) AGAIN in 2nd half, & far too much aimless hoofing of the ball in the 2nd half (felt like the home fans should be singing 'Ian Brandfoot's Blue & White army' at times). When Reading kept it on the deck, they showed they can be a threat going why resort to all the long ball (and not especially good long balls most of the time) stuff??? So many times someone at the back would hoof it aimlessly upfield only to see the ball come straight back again, with us immediately conceding possession. If it is indeed true that the team are not being told to play that style, then why do they keep reverting to it so often in games? Despite all this, Reading remain in an excellent position in the league & to be fair have played better footy this season without getting anything in return (West Ham, Millwall). But improvement is still needed along with getting the results. And to the twit who text in at the end of 'Good old Berks' phone in saying some rot about 'if you don't like long ball, go and play on a Play Station for entertainment cos we're getting results', or some such rubbish... Reading's goals came in their decent passage of play in first half ON THE GROUND, & from Forster having a run at Preston on his own. So the long ball got us.....NOTHING. So go and watch Paul Brayson in the Conference or have a go hoofing the ball about in the park if you like long ball so much you prat, or is that what you were doing Tues eve??? COME ON....
Caversham Royal

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