MATCH REPORT: 2003/2004 Season

Reading: Kitson (35 mins, 52 mins).
West Ham:
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 23,314

Pos Team P Pts GD
6 Sheff Utd 40 63 +11
7 READING 40 63 -1
8 Wigan 39 62 +12
Reading: Ashdown, Murty, Hughes, Ingimarsson, Newman, Brooker, Harper, Sidwell (Watson 89), Salako, Morgan (Owusu 73), Kitson. Subs not used: Gordon, Goater, Young.
West Ham:
Bywater, Repka, Melville (Hutchison 71), Dailly, Harley, Harewood (Nowland 28), Reo-Coker, Carrick, Etherington, Connolly (Deane 56), Zamora. Subs not used: Srnicek, Mullins.
Reading: Newman.
West Ham:
Reo-Coker, Repka.
Referee: Phil Joslin (Newark)

Perhaps the fans turning up intent on abusing Alan Pardew for deserting the Royals ought to reconsider their response. After today's fine performance they should be thanking him for creating the vacancy which allowed us to bring in a manager who is gradually proving to be more than his equal. " We've got your manager" sang the Hammers fans before the game. Suits me. Coppell is more articulate, more experienced, more intelligent, and played at a far higher level. Today the Hammers came to the Madejski with a squad clearly equipped for automatic promotion and left with their tails between their legs having been soundly beaten by a relatively low budget team superbly organised and highly motivated. Reading played throughout with passion and flair, and were by far the better team. This victory was a tribute to Steve Coppell's tactics, selection and judgement in signing good players.

The cornerstone of this excellent victory was the virtually flawless performance of Dave Kitson. Not only did he take his goals well, but his all round play was outstanding. His touch, passing, ability in the air and tackling were a class above the likes of the highly acclaimed Bobby Zamora. It was however, far from a one-man show. The entire team were right on their game and played really well collectively and individually. Basically Reading gained control of midfield and rarely wasted possession. The defence snuffed out danger quickly and efficiently and Kitson and Morgan caused problems all afternoon with their ability to hold the ball use it well. Morgan looked positive and confident and constantly sought to threaten the West Ham goal. The Hammers were restricted to two chances in the first half. Harewood must have thought he had scored from a well worked free kick but Ashdown, who it must be said inspired greater confidence than Hahnemann has all season, produced a fine save to turn his shot round for a corner. Connolly also went close but Ashdown was off his line quickly, and did enough to force the striker to put it wide. Reading constantly looked dangerous. Morgan fired in a couple of shots, Murty had a long range effort saved and Salako had a shot blocked. Pardew made a strange, and possibly desperate, tactical change after half an hour which ultimately did more harm than good when he replaced a puzzled and disgruntled Harewood with Nowland. Ten minutes before half time Kitson showing brilliant judgement and anticipation when he latched onto a Murty through ball. He ran behind Melville, and when the ball ran past the defender, he tucked the ball away with great composure. The stadium erupted.

The second half continued in much the same pattern as the first half and it was not long before Reading doubled their lead. The Hammers defence failed to deal with a Harper cross and when the ball fell to Kitson he smashed it high into the net. It was a lead which Reading never looked like losing and with Morgan and Kitson keeping the ball so well, a high percentage of the play was in the visitors half. It was a time for Reading fans to sit back and enjoy. Harper produced s highly entertaining piece of showboating flicking the ball over a lunging Hammer and beating three players before losing possession. Soon after, Hughes, not wishing to be upstaged, repeated the trick. It was party time. Salako had a good chance to really rub it in with about ten minutes to go but his shot was tame. The final whistle came amidst the home fans celebrations with most of the Eastenders already on their way back home.

Today the Royals played like a team with nothing to lose. Having shaken off their inhibitions about losing they looked capable of beating anyone in this division. The next home game against Norwich should be another cracker. I hope I've got my voice back by then! Shhh - don't mention the play-offs.
John Wells


I got in the ground late and didn't know the team selection til they ran out. I have to confess I thought Coppell had screwed up, leaving BOTH Goater and Owusu on the bench. From the minute we kicked off, it was obvious I was wrong. The selection, and formation (4-5-1 Alan, you remember that don't you?) worked flawlessly. The whole team played superbly. From Kitson who the West Ham backline struggled with all afternoon, to the 5 man midfield which totally dominated their primadonna opposition, to the defence which was solid throughout. Ashdown set the tone of his afternoon with an early save from their free kick. well worked, but bettered by Ashdowns save. After that, he didn't have to do much, which shows how well the team worked in front of him.
I honestly expected to lose when I considered they had arguably the most potent attack in the division, and we have so many players out. To go on and stifle such an expensive side, then dominate them is a feat in itself. To do that to Pardew was a dream.
The whole day was magnificent, the crowd, the performance, the result. Superb. Unfair to pick a man of the match when they collectively delivered the performance of the season. I felt Kitson deserved that accolade, he has improved so much. However, leaving the ground I was swayed by so many people that it should be Andy Hughes. I didn't go to Coventry so I had to believe the commentary when they said Hughes was fantastic as left back. Considering he played out of position, and the performance he delivered, I'd say he deserved it. I used to feel Hughes got better the further forward he played. The defensive position seem to suit him. Maybe he doesn't feel the pressure of launching the perfect cross. He seems more composed and doesn't rush things, he certainly tackles more.
Somebody behind me said we would have to hang on for the last 10 minutes. I looked at the scoreboard to check the time, then I noticed half the West Ham fans had gone already. They had already realised it was all over.
Unbelievable effort lads. Let's see more of the same for the next six (or will it be 9) games. URZ
Thatcham Royal

It don't get much better than that!
Packed stadium, best performance of the season with the return and somewhat humbling return and humiliation of Pardwho by the players he walked out on. That would of really hurt him to stand there for ninety minutes and watch his team of so called stars be utterly outplayed not only in all departments on the pitch but also but shear guts and determination. If we could only produce that sort of performance every week with that amount of noise and support then we really would be a serious proposition for the Premier league. The game started well with the helicopters which nobody could not have been moved by and as the atmosphere built up it so reminded me of the classic Wolves games at Elm Park when McGhee came back. We started well and continued to get better, boy did we play well and boy were there some quite outstanding performances. Harper never stopped running, Ricky Newman had a blinder at centre back but won't get much credit, Morgan for such a youngster showed great glimpses of what he can produce. Kitson - what can you say, surely the best game the lads ever played in his life, all over the park, winning lots in the air and two great finishes, most fans man of the match, but not mine. Salute Graeme Murty, I can't think of a better captains performance for such a long time which was typified in the second half right in front of the East stand when he won a tremendous sliding fifty ball. You could see there was no way on earth he was going not to win the ball even though he looked second best, absolutely brilliant, as were every other Reading player and the fans.
West Ham were very poor, they've no chance of going up with that type of gutless performance and even if they do scrape up, they've as much chance of staying up as we have signing Henry. Must mention the referee, what a change to say well played ref, must be a freak because I thought he had a blinder.
Great day, one of those days you'll always remember and if we don't make the play offs, this one game will keep you happy over the summer and coming months till the next encounter. Well played Reading! UUU F'ING RRRZZZZ!!
Nick Newbury

Don't really know what else to say. Kitson - superb. Hughes - superb. Murty - superb. (Remember that he was an attacking midfielder until he joined Reading.) The rest of the team - superb. The crowd - superb. West Ham - spineless and shambolic. West Ham's fans - spineless and shambolic (and, after 70 minutes, heading out the door in droves). Just a pity we couldn't have locked them in for 15 minutes to complete the ritual humiliation. One to savour for a long, long time.
Kris, Muswell Hill

Despite the very patronising, politically correct & totality unnecessary 'it's only a game of footy, move one........' rubbish pedalled by club (DON'T believe them!) and media (BEN RICE 107-may commentate on RFC but is Liverpool {oh, what underachievers AGAIN!!} supporter & that bimbo who presents the news, Emma someone... ah, she doesn't know the offside rule so she doesn't count) have whittered in such a dull way in the past week, there was still a hostile & intimidating atmosphere at the Mad Stad that I'm sure had the required positive effect on RFC & negative effect on West Ham over-paid ponses that helped us to inflict the just result Mr Parjudas deserved on his 1st visit 'home'. The whole team put their all into the game, and got the outcome they so deserved. Mention must go to Kitson (finally got his goal rewards for his efforts in recent games), & the back five (Ashdown included) who dealt with West Ham''s supposedly 'star-studded' forwardline so well (Hughes & Newman still playing out of position). This was such an important result, in terms of the league position & in terms of pride & the team didn't let us down when push came to shove. Well done RFC & get lost Ben Rice & 107. Commentate on your team... Liverpool NOT winning ANYTHING & leave RFC to those who care about them & are NOT PAID to seem as if they do. HA! COME ON!!
Caversham Royal.

Not sure if anyone else noticed on Saturday, but we clearly have the biggest "choppers" in the first division by far! Great to see the Hammers fans leaving with their tales between their legs!
Chris Larkin

This really was a game of two halves. That is, half the players on the pitch who came expecting to win and rather gave up on the game after their beautifully worked out set-piece free kick failed to produce a goal; and the other half, a Reading team who battled for every loose ball and came forward with such passion and commitment that it was no great surprise when the first goal went in. One expected some sort of fightback after the interval, but Reading were so determined that West Ham were never allowed to settle and the second goal - as well-struck anything you're likely to see outside the premiership all season - effectively finished the Hammers off. For the Royals, Dave Kitson will rightly be singled out for praise but this was truly a team performance, with the visitors' forward line frustrated, their midfield outfought and their defensive weaknesses exposed. If this is the shape of things to come for Coppell's men then anything could happen between now and the end of the season.
Highland Royal

Must say this is the best performance Ive have ever seen us played. And the atmosphere were at least just as good as the Bolton game 97 at Elm Park, when Quinny were goalie the second half. The Viking Royals obviously has a bit trouble going to a lot of games, but this was clearly the one to pick I will never forget the laughs at Pards, or the way the crowd, us, cheered at every little thing that went our way. We could do this, together, as a club. So please on our behalf, go to the games, get behind the boys as you did Saturday. Cheer your throats out, and we will meet again at the 30:th of May!
Magnus Carlund (One of three Viking Royals at the North Stand)

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