READING 2 OLDHAM ATHLETIC 2 (Half Time: 2-1)
Mackie (8 mins), Parkinson (45 mins).
Oldham Scorers: Duxbury (31 mins), Smart (75 mins).
23 March 2002
Reading: Whitehead, Murty, Williams, Mackie, Shorey, Hughes, Parkinson, Watson (Branch 69), Salako (Rougier 83), Forster, Cureton (Henderson 64). Subs not used: Talia, Viveash.
Oldham Athletic: Goram, Holden, Armstrong, McNiven, Baudet, Colusso (Smart 62), Murray, Appleby, Duxbury (Carss 77), Eyres, Adebola (Corazzin 58). Subs not used: Clegg, Sheridan.
Bookings: Baudet, Eyres, Smart (Oldham).
Reading's fourth draw from five league matches made the automatic promotion race just that bit tighter this afternoon. Brighton were also held to a home draw, but with Brentford winning during the week and Stoke and Huddersfield both getting wins, there's plenty of pressure building up with just five games of the season left. Reading wasted the opportunity to pull two points further ahead from Brighton after Oldham Athletic twice came from behind this afternoon at the Madejski Stadium. The nerves are certainly starting to show around Reading Football Club as we move closer and closer to the end of the season.
This 2-2 draw was a disappointing result in front of another big crowd of over 15,000. It was particually disappointing after it looked like Reading were going to comfortably win this match earlier on. After a superb period of opening play from the Royals we quickly faded away as nerves, and a careless defence, got the better of us. As the game continued Oldham looked more and more likely to get something from it as they realised Reading couldn't quite complete the job.
With Murty back after missing the trip to Chesterfield, Hughes moved forward to take the place of Sammy Igoe on the right wing. It meant that new signing Michael Branch was left on the bench. It all made plenty of sense, although we were to find out later that Hughes immediately looks better in the centre of midfield rather than playing out wide. The slight changes to the team meant that Reading looked like they'd continue where they left off at Chesterfield - we all expected a comfortable home win.
As the game got underway the pre-match talk of a big win seemed justified. Oldham had a bit of the ball without really doing anything with it and Reading were able to easily win possession and play some nice football on the deck. Watson in the centre of midfield was outstanding earlier on with the ball being sprayed all over the pitch - and always right to someone's feet as the Royals pushed forward. Everything was going to plan when John Mackie gave the Royals the lead after just eight minutes of play. A short corner on the left saw Kevin Watson put over a superb cross to the far post where Mackie headed the ball across the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
With Reading a goal up, it looked like we might do a Cardiff and stick a whole load more past Oldham. However, the linesman's flag had other ideas as it prevented Forster running clean through when he seemed to be clearly onside. We thought we had scored a moment later after another good move involving Watson and starting from the centre of the field resulted in Hughes crossing for Cureton to fire into the net off the crossbar. The goal was ruled out for offside - yet another in a whole series of frustrating decisions from the linesman. However, the referee and his assistants could not be blamed for Oldham getting right back into the game.
Reading seemed to ease off a bit, and a couple of poor balls led to the play slipping away from Reading with a few long hoofs up pitch rather than playing the proper football that had done us so well for the first part of the game. Oldham won a few corners and started to look dangerous for the first time in the game. Oldham won a corner on their left which really didn't look like a corner. Williams was judged to have headed the ball out of play, but he wouldn't stop protesting - along with 15,000 Reading fans who thought the ball went cleanly out of play from an Oldham head. The ball was floated into the middle and headed home in the middle of the box. The defence failed to pick up the man and Whitehead was picking the ball out fo the back of the net. 1-1.
With the game level Reading upped a gear again and Jamie Cureton really should have done a whole lot better after he was delivered a free header well inside the box, but his header failed to find the target. Moments later, in the one minute of injury time at the end of the first half, Reading were ahead again after Forster did all the hard work down the right wing, weaving in and out of players before cutting in and playing a short low cross. Superb play from Forster and Parkinson provided the finish with a simple tap in from a few yards out.
After starting the second half 2-1 up we really should have gone on to win the game, but failed to keep the momentum going. We should have guessed we were going to let the game slip after neither side managed to take control of the game. Instead we were treated to plenty of hoofs and some terrible shots way over the bar from Oldham as the game got a bit scrappy.
With Reading still 2-1 up, we made two substitutions. Henderson replaced Cureton and Branch made his Reading debut replacing Watson. Watson had faded out during the second half after a great opening 45 minutes, but it was disappointing to see him replaced. Branch failed to add anything to Reading's game apart from a couple of poor balls into the area after being delivered the ball out wide. Reading fans are becoming increasingly dismayed to see Cureton replaced before the end when he's always capable of scoring, and Henderson also failed to pick Reading's performance up. Instead of Reading finding the extra edge we found Oldham pulling level. A cross from the right again found the Reading defence all over the place and the ball drifted to the far post where it was cut back into the area, and headed home without a challenge. 2-2, and the three points had slipped away.
Pardew got Rougier off the bench with seven minutes left on the clock - but it was hard to remember Rougier doing anything in the short time he had. However, Nicky Forster could have won the game late on for the Royals after winning a free-kick right on the edge of the Oldham area. His free-kick had the keeper well beaten as it flew over the Oldham wall, but it didn't quite manage to beat the crossbar. If the free-kick had been a few inches further out it then it would probably have been the winner, but instead it bounced away to safety and the score remained 2-2 at full time.
Reading's huge lead at the top of the Division has now nearly all faded away
- but we still have a massive advantage. As each game goes past we're one game
closer to promotion. We only have to keep this place in the table for five more
games - but to do that we need to start picking up more points. Reading have
earnt seven points from the five most recent games - we'll have to do better
than that over the final five games to guarantee a place in Division One.
Following report from John Wells
Regardless of what the Reading players and fans perceive the impact of this result to be, one thing is certain, Brentford, Stoke and Huddersfield will have been greatly encouraged by our failure to pick up three points at home. It wasn't just the players that had an off day today. I thought Alan Pardew dropped his share of clangers with his selection and substitutions. The inclusion of Hughes, Parkinson, and Watson in midfield meant Reading were solid defensively but there was no real spark. Branch seemed the obvious choice to fill Igoe's role. It would have been better to give him a chance from the start and pull him off if it didn't work rather than throw him on when we were struggling. Then in the second half when Reading were still a goal up and needing to keep possession he took off Watson, whose defensive work and distribution had been almost faultless, and moved Hughes, whose passing is often poor, into the centre of midfield. I'm certainly not blaming Hughes for the second Oldham goal but it did come from a free kick which he conceded with the sort of rash challenge that Watson would probably not have made. He also took off Cureton and replaced him with Henderson presumably for his height in attack and in defending set pieces. I can't help thinking that Cureton might have been able to convert some of the chances that came from pressure late in the game.
Low on confidence from a drubbing at home to Cardiff last week and fielding possibly the least agile 'keeper in the league, Oldham looked ripe for a thrashing. Their new signing Adebola didn't appear to present much of a threat either. Although he managed to get his head to quite a few high balls he spent a lot of time spinning around trying to work out where the ball had gone after striking his head. However the crowd were subdued and the Royals appeared apprehensive.
Reading created some early pressure and took the lead in the sixth minute when Mackie headed in firmly at the far post from a corner. Cureton and Forster were clearly looking to find each other with short sharp passing around the box, which was good to see, but if anything they were over-elaborating and losing possession. The game was almost dull until the referee brought it life with some awful decisions which wound up the players and the crowd.
First Williams gave a very convincing impression of a man being pulled to the ground in the penalty area only to have a fee kick awarded against him. I'm not sure anyone understood that decision - certainly not Williams who was still questioning the decision long after it happened. Soon after Williams again was astonished to see the referee award a corner after he had made contact with a ball that had already gone for a goal kick beyond the far post. To rub salt into the wound Oldham equalised from the corner. Then the referee and his assistant combined to stop Forster who had easily beaten the offside trap by giving Cureton offside when he was clearly not going to be involved in the move.
Shortly before half time Cureton got on the end of a superb cross from Murty but he headed wide. It was a great chance wasted. The plump Goram never even looked like moving for it. Some sort of justice came on the stroke of half time when a typical Forster run produce a cross which Parky, surging through from midfield, helped over the line from close range. Forster is by far the most devastating and exciting player in this division when he turns and accelerates past defenders. So we went in a goal up. Surely now that we had been given our warning we would go on and finish them off.
The twenty minutes after half time was not very inspiring but Reading still looked capable of adding a third goal especially with Oldham forced to push more men forward. Then came the puzzling substitutions, a moment of slack defending from a free kick, and the Oldham equaliser. When Forster hit the bar with a well taken free kick, you knew it was not going to be our day. There were chances before the final whistle but the best man to finish the job was watching from the bench and wondering why he was there - along with the rest of us.
The announcement that Brighton had also had drawn at home was of little consolation. Brentford are the team gaining ground at the moment and that last game is beginning to grow in significance. We could have done without McMahon giving them a helping hand by fielding his reserves earlier in the week. (Why is he so desperate to win a competition most clubs are happy to be eliminated from as soon as possible ?) We have to face up to the fact that our automatic promotion spot depends on winning at least one of three very tough away games - that is assuming we can beat Northampton and Peterborough at home. What was lacKing today was the sense of urgency and team spirit that has been so evident in some of our away performances this season. Pardew is right - we are good enough - but we still have to prove it!
Post Match Opinions
Yesterday I had the pleasure of a hernia operation, and to say I'm
feeling very sore today is putting it mildly, being axed in the groin
may be an apt description of the pain. However, it pails into insignificance
compared to the agony I endured today listening on the radio as yet again
when it really comes to the crunch Reading FC twice throw away a lead
at home. What the bloody hell is going on? Three consecutive home draws
is simply not good enough. Just heard Salako on the radio and he's spot
on with his post match analysis."We were just not up for it, we're unprofessional
and we're giving away diabolical goals at the back." I'm so pissed
off with players and commentators saying "it was just one of those days
when things didn't go our way"! What a load of bollocks! Instead of taking
this league by the throat and cruising to promotion, yet again we are
going have to endure weeks of nail biting, heart attacks and nervous breakdowns.
After the Bournemouth debacle I questioned whether the players and the
management have the nerves and balls to do it? Who in God's name can honestly
believe we have that desire with our glorious record of capitulation and
failure at the final moment? What does it take to win at home at this
stage of the season when twice in front? Why did Pardew take Watson and
Cureton off? Reports from the game said this was a dreadful decision by
Pardew. Rougier couldn't score in a brothel at the moment but while Cureton
is on the park we have a chance of goals. This is going to go right down
to the last game believe me. I'm not going to consider not getting automatic
promotion. That thought is just incomprehensible. At the end of the day
it comes down to the players on the pitch. Quite simply do they have the
belief, ability and the bollocks to do it? I honestly don't know .
As one of Pardrew's biggest supporters it hurts to say we got this
one wrong and threw away two points. Forget Brighton only drawing, it's
automatic that counts.
Inept, pathetic, gutless, unbelievable.
'Big Paddy' summed up my sentiments today, and 'Big Paddy' sums up
Pardew! Was I watching a different game? Or is the view from the West
stand completely different from the East? Why oh why did super Alan make
those tactical changes today or has he got a perverse and warped intriguing
sort of mind and just wants to let are nerves jangle right to the very
end? Come on Alan I get enough stress from work, 'er in doors and the
kids combined! I don't want to endure more agony on a Saturday afternoon,
that's my time to unwind! The only person out of the whole team that possibly
needed subing today was Hughsey who was having a mare out on the right.
Surely a straight swap for Branch was the right move, after all we were
2-1 up and the team only needed slight tweaking not a spanner in the works!
Anyway lets not be too down beat were still "top of the league, top of
A good opening, with a well taken goal, followed by typical end of
season nerves gave the Mad Stad faithful our third home draw on the trot.
I don't know what has happened to the flowing passing football that the
likes of Murty and Shorey were displaying only a couple of months ago.
I still don't think we have actually played well since before the Notts
County game. (With the obvious exception of the brilliant Stoke match).
The midfield is lacking in tenacity. Parky is finally starting to look
past his best. Hughes is not a winger. Watson will be great when he can
last the full ninety minutes, and Salako is quite frankly not at the races.
We were outplayed in the middle of the park at times today, and in the
end, a point was as much as we deserved. Whiehead is still an excellent
stopper, but where was he for their first goal? Just like Bournemouth,
he was undone by a corner from their left. Up front, Forster continues
to inspire. Trouble is, he decided to pass on a couple of occasions today,
which totally confused the rest of the team. Cureton did his usual, racing
around all over the place, just waiting for the inevitable substitution,
to a standing ovation from the crowd, and indeed from the manager who
insists on taking him off early every game. I really don't know what he's
done! Adie had a mare, and Mackie shaded my Reading MOM. Man Utd lost
today, Man City have lost one, and drawn one, in their last two. We are
not unique, but we must get a grip soon.
Message to Nick Newbury. Get well soon mate, I had a hernia op two
years ago, just dont be alarmed when you wake up tomorrow with black testicles.
It is apparently perfectly normal, albeit quite shocking. At the best
of times bollocks are not attractive things, when they are black & blue
and shaven they are bloody hideous!
Wonderful beginning, desperate ending. We started brilliantly today.
The ball was knocked around, we looked sharp and incisive and scored a
good goal. Then it stopped. I don't know if it is nerves or what, but we
simply stopped doing the things that we do well, get the ball down and
move it. It was good to see Watson making his home debut, and
understandable that we started with Hughes wide right. He has energy and
drive, what he does not have is a simple passing ability. Having had
such a bright start, with a well worked goal from Mackie, we should have
gone on to win this comfortably, that we did not was down to our inability
to keep the ball and to a greater desire from Oldham to move the ball. We
also gave away two goals, which is unusual. Both cane from set pieces. One
from a corner where we just did not pick up properly and the second from a
quickly taken free kick where it looked like Murty was asleep as the ball
was delivered to the far post and nobody reacted to the ball back across
the box. There were chances too for Oldham to add to their tally as there
were for us. Cureton should have scored with a header, and given how high
up the pitch Oldham defended we really should have got round them with
Forster's pace. The problem was we were too hurried, the distribution was
awful and therefore the ball kept coming back.
I don't have a problem with Cureton being taken off each week if
there is a reasoning for it and I don't think it means the end of his
career with Reading, but yesterday it was a poor decision. Henderson had
not looked impressive recently when he has come on and again threw out the
approach of the team. Hughes playing on the right does not work, we know
that from the way he was playing before he moved to the middle, so why
sign Branch on loan if he is to be third choice there behind Igoe and
Big Paddy gets it exactly right. What is Pardew playing at? Watson
is the classiest player we have, maybe ever. The best player on the field.
Noone else in midfield can hold a candle to him. Parky still puts in some
great tackles, but doesn't look comfortable on the ball and needs twice as
long as Kev to decide what to do. As for Salako and Hughes they might as
well not have turned up. Last week Hughes gave the ball away so many times
I lost count and on Saturday he carried on where he left off. Salako
complains about the attitude of the players but his looks worse than
I don't know if you post messages from away fans to this site, but
here goes. I was at the game yesterday, fabulous stadium you've got
there that definitely deserves Div 1 football if not premiership, and top
notch steak and kidney pies too.
- George Town
I am an older fan but now live some way from Reading. I have been to the
new ground, well done. Now for Div 1. Bristol should be a draw, score will
be 2-2. We will then have three more wins and a draw for the last match.
Up we go at long last. All the very best.
Whitehead seriously damages any chance we have of playing decent
football with absolutely abysmal distribution. The ball from his hoofs had
snow on it and were aimed in the general direction of that giant Cureton,
giving the ball to Oldham so the midfield are working from scraps. Its no
coincidence that our best run came when we had a keeper, probably not as
good shot stopper as Whitehead, whose distribution was excellent. Wasn't
Whitehead or the management team watching him.
I'm writing this late as I thought I would try to be objective.
Problem is I am still stunned at what I see. This isn't a wobble, it's a
catastrophe. 5 games, 1 win. What is going on? We could have won this
I'm glad to see that none of the other comments i've read have
dwelled on poor decision making by officials...the bottom line is that
Reading performed terribly.How can you lead a game like that (twice) and
not hold your own...at home...in front of 15,000 fans....at a crucial
stage of the promotion race?...Simple...mental strength, attitude.....in
other words- bottle.
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