READING 0 WIGAN 2 Attendance: 7,708
Scorers: no way Date: 16 October 1999
Team: Whitehead, Hodges, Bernal, Casper, Primus, Gurney, Parkinson, Smith (Brayson), Caskey, Williams, Forster (McIntyre).
Audio: Nope / Not yet Match Heros:

Things have changed so much over the past few seasons that we now expect to lose at home against teams like Wigan. And when we did on Saturday it hardly caused a ripple across the East Stand. The second half was probably the quietest the Madejski Stadium has ever been. Although in the first half there was plenty of promise it all evaporated in the second as Reading played out time without an idea of how to get back into the game. Passes didn't find targets, players didn't find space, and defensive problems were back once again as Reading seemed clueless as to what to do. To make it even worse this was the first league game this season that we haven't scored a goal. It seems we have problems in all departments all of a sudden, and there is little sign we're moving the right direction - yet. Pardew has a very tough job ahead of him, this season could well turn into a relegation fight unless he can at last get us playing like a team.

However there were some bright moments in the first half. For the first 30 to 40 minutes we had the vast majority of the possession, but Wigan played a very controlled game with a packed defence, and our possession only rarely troubled the Wigan defence. Hodges and Forster looked like they might combine as well as they did towards the end of the Wycombe game with Hodges playing wide left to supply Forster. Unfortunately they couldn't find the space unlike they had before. As we pushed forward we did manage to win several corners and threatened from a couple of them. From a corner on the right Parky found himself with a great chance as the ball past a couple of players and arrived just in front of him. His volley was directly at the keeper for an easy save. Forster had another similar chance that again was shot directly at the keeper. Caskey was the only other Royals player to have a shot in the half - a decent effort but way over the bar.

Although Reading had looked the better side to begin with it was probably only because of the away side's game plan. They'd come for a one goal victory and always looked likely to get it by playing very deep and marching forward on the break. From Wigan's first corner they almost too the lead. The ball was played in from the right and fired towards the top corner of the Reading net with Whitehead nowhere to be seen. Caskey stuck himself in the way and the ball flew across to the other corner where Skippy headed the ball clear. Moments later and just before half time Wigan took the lead. They simply strode past the centre of defence with Casper again having a weak game in the middle, broke the offside trap, legged it forward, played the ball to the left inside the area where it was soundly headed past Whitehead and into the back of the net. 0-1.

The second half went steadily downhill as Reading lost their way more and more. Wigan got more and more into the game without really putting in too much effort - they didn't need to as Reading rarely threatened. In the first half we'd been passing it around quite nicely at times and at least looking like going in the wrong direction. But at 0-1 down it seemed that heads dropped, the concentration went and we just got steadily worse as it all went a bit dull. To Pardew's credit in his first game in full-time charge of the Royals he made an early decision to change it around a bit.

Forster had taken a knock in an earlier challenge and was replaced by McIntyre. Smith who has been almost non-existant throughout was replaced by Paul Brayson - yet to have a real look-in this season. The substitutions made a lot of sense and were done with time to take effect - add more strength up front. However there simply wasn't any supply to the front men, nice idea, but it simply didn't work. Williams was putting in a fair bit of effort winning balls on the wings, but as soon as the ball was played into the box he'd fall over once again. Brayson only got one real chance as did McIntyre who was guilty of a couple of truly appauling balls.

The frustration soon set in as Reading picked up 3 bookings within a few minutes. Parky's summed it up as he went two footed in when the ball was already running out of play to conceede the free kick and earn some disciplinary points for himself. But then even the aggression faded out of Reading's game.

It seemed inevitable that it would be Wigan grabbing a goal and not us. Whitehead made a great save when our defence was sliced in half once again. It was one on one but Whitehead, making his home debut, came out, stood his ground and made a great save It took Wigan until the final minutes to add to their single goal. They chased the ball into the box on the left, Whitehead came out the player dived over him, and despite Whitehead's protests the penalty was awarded. Not that it mattered at this stage. Up they stepped and drove it into the net with no problems. 0-2 to Wigan. Wigan were simply the better team.

On Wednesday Reading face Bury at the Madejski, in a game which promises another low turn out. If we lose we could go bottom. Time that corner was turned please Alan.


Post Match Opinions
The first twenty minutes we looked like a good side, but for the rest once we had conceded a goal it was horrific. On this form we will have the best stadium in Division 3. Now to add insult we have a tough game against Yeovil. Will Pardew need a spin doctor to write the excuses? -- Pete Turner
A positive to come out of the game was the goalkeeper who looked much more assured than his predeccesor (Not difficult I Know). Although Howie is young and a good shot-stopper, I was constantly amazed at his lack of calling and lack of confidence on crosses when the goaly coach was a World Cup Quarter Finalist. However, now Bonner has gone we have a decent goally. The defence will improve, now they have confidence in the man behind them. Whitehead's influence will be crucial as Reading seem set for alot of defending this season! Confidence throughout the team is at a low but a good win on weds could be the catalyst we need. Look at what a 2-0 win at Walsall did for us last season. -- David Spencer
Martin Williams - you promised so much at the start of the season. I know you've done little as the Burnsmeister wouldn't really give you a look in, but now you're on, please show a little more effort, heart.....and balance! -- James, Sandhurst
we need a chosen defensive formation as at present the defence gets changed every week and players are unsure what their role is and whether they are playing this week. We need to appoint someone as our defensive captain...I suggest Barry Hunter and choose a system which suits our players and if we stick with a system we will improve. Too many changes have created uncertainty and led to a lack of confidence and has contributed to our woeful defence!! -- Tom Gordon
Wigan were not a good side in a footballing sense they just wanted it more than Reading. Player for player Reading probably have the best squad in the division. Unfortunately they haven't got a clue as to how to play as a team, that is something that is in-built. We haven't seen things improve since Burns went and I am afraid they will not. Not until the Chairman realises you need a manager with a track record, someone you know has done it in the past or is doing it now, what had Burns ever done except get the sack from Celtic? I think Burns was right about one thing, the people who run the business don't have football at heart. -- Chris Maskell
first half we at least tried to push foward and looked as if we could score; although why were all the shots and headers straight at wigans goalie??. it would seem very obvious that the team simply does not belive in themselves. second half saw some woefull passing and recieving of the ball..... schoolboy stuff really. the crowds and the atmosphere is fading the quality of football is at an alltime low and we can only go up from here. (dangerous statement) get behind the current management rightly or wrongly there are here to stay for a while at least. move on to the bury game ( didn't they get 5 away from home against blackpool yesterday) can't really see anything positive to come out of this; we are faced with a hard fact of lack of quality in the players, new management team on a steep learning curve; players who are all suffering mentally from lack of confidence and a stadium which will be about 3/4 empty . come on you Royals!!!!!!!!!!!. -- the pessamist from Basingstoke.

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