MATCH REPORT: 2003/2004 Season

8 November 2003: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Reading: Hughes (69 mins).
Wigan Athletic:
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 13,819

Pos Team P Pts GD
9 Preston 18 27 +5
10 READING 17 27 +5
11 Millwall 18 27 +3
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Williams (Newman 27), Ingimarsson, Shorey, Murray (Savage 45), Hughes, Harper, Salako, Goater (Watson 82), Forster. Subs not used: Ashdown, Henderson.
Wigan Athletic:
Filan (sent off 90), Baines (Roberts 84), Breckin, Jackson, Eaden, Liddell, Jarrett, Bullard, McCulloch (Teale 77), Ellington (Walsh 90), Horsfield. Subs not used: Mitchell, Dinning.
Reading: Hughes, Murray.
Wigan Athletic:
None.(Filan sent off)
Referee: Paul Robinson (East Yorkshire)

Wigan arrived as league leaders and left in fourth place. Reading turned in a very encouraging performance, kept a clean sheet in a league match for the first time since August, and picked up an extremely valuable three points. On this showing Wigan's league position is a little flattering as the home fans gleefully pointed out near the end.(Top of the league? You're having a laugh!) There was a lot of pre-match talk about Wigan as a potent strike force, but they were contained well by a Reading back four that was resolute and calm at all times, in spite of losing Adie Williams mid way through the first half. His replacement, Newman, had an excellent game and alongside Ingimarsson snuffed out the threat of Horsfield and Ellington.

It was clear from the start that Wigan believed they could win the game. They passed the ball well at times and were quick to break from defence to attack. Reading however looked more confident than in some recent home games and although the passing was not slick they kept their shape well. They certainly did not push Murty and Shorey forward as often as usual. On a couple of occasions the back four held back on the half way line marking just the two Wigan strikers. It was a cautious and evenly matched first half with a few half chances going to each side.

I assume Murray picked up an injury because he was replaced by Bas Savage at the re-start. The second half began with a series of errors from both teams but as the game progressed the desire for a win created a bit of momentum and a goal was looking likely. It could have gone either way but it was reading that broke the deadlock. With just over twenty minutes to go Hughes launched himself at a Salako free-kick whipped in from the left and he scored with a fine header.

Wigan were then forced to commit to all out attack and the game opened up. With a bit more thought and composure up front Reading could have had a couple more goals. Hahnemann had one important block to make to prevent an equaliser but the Royals kept their heads, won their tackles, and played their way out of defence with simple accurate passing. The game ended with a controversial incident which had no bearing on the result whatsoever. Forster ran onto a long ball which was met by Filan just outside the area. There was a moments hesitation from the linesman before putting his flag up to indicate that the Wigan 'keeper had handled the ball. I couldn't tell if it was the correct decision and I had good view of the incident. The Wigan players and management were overwhelmed by feelings of injustice (and possibly frustration at imminent defeat) and raced towards the officials. The red card produced even more anger and I got the feeling the referee may have got it wrong.

This was the most convincing victory I have seen (I have not seen any away games) since Coppell took over. There were some good performances today. Apart from Ingimarssson and Newman in the centre of defence, Murty looked good going forward in the second half, and Salako was much more effective in what appears to be a much freer role. Hughes typically had a fairly quiet first half, scored a great goal then was guilty of some appalling distribution. I think Coppell's influence is beginning to have an impact. As for Wigan - not bad side but I don't think they will finish above Reading at the end of the season.
Report by John Wells


Great result for Reading and overall a good performance , after all you can't complain after beating top of the league and in Wigan I thought we saw the best team so far to visit the Mad Stad this season . Wigan played some lovely football at times and we found it hard to get the ball . When we did get it , we often needlessly gave it away , and though he scored a great goal , Hughes was the worst culprit . He really does exasperate the fans , does all the hard work , then makes a right balls up of crosses and passes , he's now an honorary member of the Barry Hunter Giraffe Academy of Passing ! Murty did well on his return and Ingi Iceman had a good game too and looks a good buy , we're going to need him with Ade's injury . Three players who continue to perform well below expectations are Shorey who seems totally to have lost the plot , Murray though unlucky to go off injured has really failed to produce the goods , so much for being a legend as I boldly predicted at he start of the season , I still have faith though , and the Goat ! Sorry but I've seen enough , get rid . Millwall should be fun next week and with Alan Patridge continuing to make a complete arse of himself at West Ham , we're now only a point behind , maybe we're quietly getting the show back on track.
Nick Newbury

Today we beat the league leaders. OK it may not have been the most fashionable team to wear that name, but that is what they were, and had we been there we would have said it was on merit. Wigan certainly played with a great deal of confidence and we hear so often what that means in the professional game. To show what it meant to us, you just had to see the contrast in our performance after we had scored. It was then that we moved the ball around with confidence and more importantly, pace.
The goal itself was a triumph for two individuals. Firstly it was a superb cross by our best player, namely, Salako. He scarcely gave the ball away at all and showed what experience has taught him. He also popped up occasionally in places that would not have been allowed under the previous regime. That the cross was put in by Hughes was a triumph for persistency. In truth he had a poor game, but he did what he always does, and that is gave 100% for the cause. He was asked to perform a different role again, that of containing the Wigan midfield. the fact that we did not let Wigan score shows that he did that well along with Harper, but neither of them offered much in the offensive part of the game. Hughes keeps going, Harper well.......
To keep a clean sheet was a major triumph for the back four and those playing in front of them. Given that we lost Williams, our outstanding player this season, was a great testimony to them all, especially Newman when he came on. It was also good to see Murty back and he had a fine game, even weighing in with a couple of subtle passes. He must have been learning whilst doing the commentaries! This was a terrific result. There really is so little between many of the teams in this division, that can be seen by our results. A good run by any team in the top half would have a dramatic effect, so why not us? Ultimately it will be because we are still too dependent on Forster to score. We are still not getting the best out of The Goat and I do not know if that is our play or his. If Salako keeps getting the ball into the box like he did today then more will follow for him, but he needs to win more on his own account as well.
The real big plus today was the performance of Savage. Yes he did miss an easy header, but if you had said this time last year that he would have come on and played like he did, then nobody would have believed you. The result was everything today - even better than the West Ham result!!
Ken C

Once more Reading follow up a disappointing result with very good one against strong opposition. Although I'd say there was no way Wigan 'outplayed' us, as many of their texters on 'good old Berks' seemed to think, Reading didn't completely convince with their display. The midfield was.....the usual. I hope the management are going to buy someone with experience & presence to sort out the middle of the park now Watson is transfer listed. Hughes showed both the positives & negatives of his game; constant running, popping up with a vital goal vs. awful passing at times & again costing us a couple of good opportunities with his carelessness. Surely he (like Harper) could benefit with playing with someone organised & creative. Full credit to Newman for the way he stepped in for Williams & played such a full part in shackling Wigan's supposedly 'deadly' strike force. Savage did pretty well, although he's obviously not suited to the wing. It's also disappointing to see Tyson transfer listed having, like Watson, had little chance to prove his worth. Despite the concerning aspects of the performance, Reading have once again proved themselves capable of competing with & beating one of the leading sides in the division. And Pardew still hasn't won a match yet. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! COME ON.....
Caversham Royal

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