MATCH REPORT: 2002/2003 Season

21 September 2002: LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
Reading: Hughes (58 mins)
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 25,560

DIVISION ONE  21 Sep 2002
Pos Team P Pts GD
10 Bradford 9 13 -1
11 READING 10 13 -1
12 Preston 9 12 +2
Reading: Hahnemann, Mackie, Williams, Upson, Murty, Watson, Hughes, Newman, Salako (Henderson 90), Rougier, Cureton (Forster 66). Subs not used: Whitehead, Shorey, Igoe.
Murray, Irwin, Naylor, Lescott, Butler (Cooper 64), Ingimarsson, Rae, Ince, Newton, Ndah (Blake 74), Sturridge. Subs not used: Feuer, Miller, Edworthy.
Reading: Hughes , Rougier. Wolves: Irwin , Ndah , Newton .
Referee: Michael Ryan (Preston)

Alan Pardew stuck to his formation that caused him so many problems just three days before and came away with what might be the best result we'll get this season. There's not much better than winning away at Wolves, and this was quite simply a stunning result. It just didn't compare to the 0-2 home defeat to Norwich, as Reading oozed confidence to pull off a classic 1-0 away victory. Wolves seemed to a poor side playing out of form, but Reading deserved so much credit for a comfortable and determined performance. The only change to the game before was the introduction of Newman in place of Igoe, but Reading were transformed with a sold defence and a assured midfield game.

The first half saw Wolves frustrate their home fans with a complete inability to get a shot in on target. A packed Molinuex saw the home fans quickly silenced by a Reading side that were quick to chase the ball down and more than happy to make tackles to prevent the home side causing much danger. Upson and Mackie seemed transformed and looked solid as ever alongside Williams in the defence. The addition of Newman seemed to make Reading that little bit harder as we picked up more than our fair share of possession. We were working the ball forward well too, and it was only in the last part of the pitch where some excellent Reading moves broke down. Rougier was determined and giving their keeper loads of hassle - forcing him to drop a couple of ball that we nearly managed to poke home.

The game was settled midway through the second half with the goal of the season so far from Andy Hughes. Hughes had a couple of attempts in the first half to stick Reading ahead but perhaps didn't do quite as well as he should have done - but he capped an excellent performance with a stunning goal on 58 minutes. Hughes picked the ball up mid-way through the Wolves half and just hit it. It went steaming into the back of the net giving the keeper no chance. The away fans went mental and continued to go mental to the final whistle. Wolves so nearly equalised but Hahnemann was in top form to tip the ball over the crossbar - and just after Reading scored the post came to Reading's rescue to keep us ahead. With time running out for Wolves it was Reading that finished the stronger side with Nicky Forster creating all kinds of problems in the Wolves defence as we nearly scored the second to settle it. An excellent performance and a fantastic day out.

ken c
If ever there was a performance to justify the manager's decisions, this was it. Fans had been scathing about the new formation against Norwich, today it was completely vindicated. Pardew had said that he trying to bring more height into the team and to help the attacking options. It worked a treat today. There was only one change from the team on Wednesday with Newman coming in for Igoe. Whilst Hughes will get the plaudits for a superb goal, it was Newman who typified the performance. He gave the midfield greater security which enabled Hughes to make more of those runs that we love to see. I thought that we started a bit nervously and Mackie gave away an unnecessary early foul. After that all three centre backs gave of their best. On paper Wolves looked good but they rarely threatened in the first half which marginally belonged to Reading. We had half chances, but what was impressive was the work rate and commitment. The second half saw more opportunities and the best were ours. There was a good strike from Watson, Roug went close and when the goal came it was a beauty. A good move was followed by a superb strike by Hughes, who when he does things by instinct, looks a very good player. You are at your most vulnerable when you have scored and this proved to be the case for us. Immediately after our goal, Wolves went the closest they came and hit the post. Reading went onto to play with confidence however, and the best chances fell to them. Forster might have scored but took one touch too many which meant the angle was too narrow and we always looked good on the break with Hughes showing considerable energy. Wolves did not really create and when they did have an attempt at goal Magnus was able to deal with them. It was a terrific result. A triumph for the manager in front of good away support again. Everyone played their part. we looked solid. We lacked width going forward as both Murty and Solako concentrated more on their defensive roles , but both did well. It was good to see Solako winning tackles in his own box! As with last season our best performances are starting to come away from the Mad Stad. It really was a good day today!
nick newbury
This game of football never ceases to amaze. Just like women, you just never know what's going to happen next, especially supporting Reading FC. What a fantastic result this was, from the despair of Wednesday to the ecstasy of an away win at arguably one our toughest away games we will encounter this season. I think it's fair to say that Wolves were a poor side yesterday and have as much chance of being promoted as I have becoming the next Pope, but let there be no doubt, this was a great performance from Reading, this was the day we showed the fight and spirit that we know is there, this was day Reading FC said to the rest of division one, we are back.
The defence yesterday were the stars, Murty, Williams, Mackie and Upson stood strong and all had super games. Upson showed what he can do and in my opinion at a massive game. Midfield worked like Trojans and Hughesy continues to confound his critics. The guy deserves a medal for his workrate alone, his ability to go past players is also a great asset and will only get better, from fluffing a great chance in the first half that Delia Smith would have done better with, he produced a strike for the goal that would have graced any football ground in the world.
Our gang had the pleasure of being driven to the game by Bully a Wolves exile down south, and we enjoyed the hospitality of the infamous Red Lion a stones throw from the ground dedicated to Wolves FC where even the bog paper was orange! Full to the rafters of Wolves fans we had a great banter with their lads before the game, however we thought it prudent not to go back after the game! Just hope everybody else as part of the magnificent travelling fans all got away from the ground safely. Yet another big game next week against horrible Stoke, play with the guts and fight we showed yesterday and three points will be no problem... well played UURRRZZZ!!
telford royal
The joy of playing Wolves and picking up 3 points was a reality again for Reading after a 4 year break. Wolves were simply awful and there are big problems at Molineux. As for Reading, their topsy turvy season plods on. A fantastic freak goal by Hughes which sealed the points in a poor game. There may not be many points between these two at the end of the season.
Play up Biscuitmen!
ian glendinning
So only one change from the shambles against Norwich, producing the right result. Full marks to Pards courage in sticking to his guns despite widespread disapproval of the midweek tactics. Newman added a biting performance to the midfield, and I guess holding out for 10 minutes from the start gave the squad a chance to settle in to Pards preferred 3:5:2 formation, but not a great performance by either side. Upson seemed closer to anyone's notion of an Arsenal centre-back this time, Adi was solid again, and Watson was really up for it with much more attacking ball-winning, passing and running. Despite scoring his spectacular goal Hughes was in fact pretty anonymous for most of this game. Also, with most of the crowd indicating they would still have preferred to see Shorey on as the left wing / back, Sal put in a great performance for the full 90 minutes, spending most of the second half operating as the left back with few if any runs down the wing.
Rouge covered a lot of ground with the ball at his feet and played the target man to Hahnemann's upfield rockets - he still needs some combination of confidence and coaching to exploit what he creates when in sight of the opposing penalty area. Biggest disappointment would be that Rouge success as target man, means Hahnemann's tactics now seem to exclude throwing out to the wing / backs - pity.
Fozzy should have had his run sooner too, because he certainly shook-up the Wolves defence when he came on - in fact the Wolves seemed quite rattled by their failure to conjure up much danger in the last 15 minutes, and probably 20% of their fans had left by the final whistle.
michael mackay
Well Played Reading however there was something that was not right. We were going through the game with no real wide play at all. When you play 3-5-2 it is better to play this with two wing backs or at least wingers. On Saturday we had one fully functional wing and the other left a lot to be desired. However I have great belief In John Salako. I know he can challange and run at players cos he did that whilst on loan.
Anyways well done lads you played your hearts out.
Just need to start creating chances. Message to all Wolves fans: Alright Skip! (in a high pitched Midlands accent)
Let me say up front that I am a gigantic fan of Rouge. Now with that out of the way; those who are always criticising him for his seeming inability to score must ponder on this: how many of the other strikers on the team must first work their way through the opposition with the ball and then have an attempt on goal? None. Rouge breaks down the opposing team's defense then lays of the ball to one of the free strikers. Why are they free? Because the defense is concentrating on Rouge. Remember December 26th 2001 and beyond when Reading seemed like spending another year in the 2nd division? It was turned around with the introduction of the Rouge! He ripped the opposition to shreds and made the lay offs for the "stars" to score. Pardew is just doing the right thing earlier this year. Criticise, but be balanced.
muswell hill
I too would have liked to see Shorey in a wing-back role, exploiting the width of the pitch going forwards, and spent the first half wondering why he wasn't on the pitch. Goodness knows what Pards said to Salako at half time, however, but something seemed to kick him up the backside. Particularly for the last twenty minutes, when we needed to defend (which is even less of a Salako quality than attacking), he was unrecognisable. All credit to him for that, but could we have some more of the same please, next weekend and the one after?
Full marks too to Rouge for a battling performance that also made me question why he can't turn it on like that every week. Finally, I thought Curo, Fozzy and Ricky Newman were outstanding as well: this morning's Times described them as being "on a different planet to Wolves' ponderous plodders".
Who's famous now, Mr Ince?
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