Team: Howie; Gray, Primus, Parkie, Bernal, Crawford; O'Neill, Lovell, Caskey, Lambert; McIntyre (Fleck (Brayson).
Man Of The Match: Parkie.
Following on from the Wolves game - this was once again a game that Reading could have won. Up until three minutes from the end the hope was always there - until Chris Bart-Williams at last found a way through Reading's defence to score the goal that sends Reading into Division Two. But we battled. Hard. Defensively it was probably our best performance of the season, and going forward we made enough chances to have won the game. With a bit more luck Brayson - our third centre forward for the game - could have sealed the points for us before the goal that sent us down. Considering we were bottom, they were top, and we were away, we were nothing short of brilliant. Reading are a reformed side under Tommy Burns but it's all been too late. Two wins in 17 games was always going to see us finish bottom. Perhaps if Burns had arrived earlier we'd have been saved. It's all ifs and buts - but we're looking good for next season. Taking what we've got and adding a few new players and we've got to be looking at an immediate return to first division football.
The first half didn't deliver the most exciting football you'll have got this season at Forest. Or even at Elm Park for that matter. It was always going to be a tense game and it was. The Forest fans were silent - while Reading's travelling fans made all the noise.
The best chance of the first half fell to Reading and McIntyre. McIntyre found himself with a one-on-one with the Forest keeper, McIntyre legged it into the box of the left, got in close, and shot only the find Beasant standing up to his shot to make the save. Reading looked nervous to start with - Caskey guilty of some truely woeful hoofs forward that were going nowhere. But after we won a few corners we settled down.
Where really succeeded was at the back. Before kick-off you'd have expected Forest, with their crazy goal rate, to score a hatfull against the league's weakest defence. But no. Primus and Parkie were giving it everything at the back. Parkie somehow managed to avoid a yellow card despite a fair few over enthusiastic tackles and some serious shirt pulling. Parkie was tackling everything that moved - and with success too. Primus was like a wall across the Reading area. Nothing was getting through. Primus wasn't quite as lucky with the cards though - getting booking within 10 minutes for an over-enthusiastic challenge. It wasn't just our two centre back though - the entire team seemed to be marking up in seconds. Each Forest ball found the recipient with a man on him instantly - and as a result the most Forest could muster up were long range efforts flying over the bar. When Forest did brake through Howie was there - legging it out of his area to head the ball clear.
Before half time McIntyre went off injured after a collision and on came Fleck. Into the second half Fleck was to have the same treatment from the same Forest man - and limped off to be replaced by Brayson who scored his first for the club at Wolves last weekend.
The second half had a different feel about it as both clubs went looking for the victory they both needed - Forest to go up, Reading to stay up. After another quiet start the game came into life in the last quarter. Howie pulled off a couple of decent saves - again mostly from long range efforts. Forest threatened with a free kick on the edge of the box - but with Linvoy "Wall" Primus in the wall it wasn't going anywhere. Then Reading almost scored through Brayson. Brayson let fly with an effort just left of centre outside the box. His powerful low effort beat Beasant in the forest goal as his dived to his right - but not the post. The ball hit the inside of the foot of the post and bounced away to safety.
Reading continued to look for victory - and so almost grabbed it. We started to look pure quality. Caskey sorted out his passing and then gelled with the rest of the team. Lots and lots of smooth on the floor passing found Reading moving their way forward. Forest's similiar attempts found them working backwards as we pushed everything at them. Some of our passing found Lambert on the right where he whipped in a low cross. It came across with such speed that any connection could have seen it spin off into the net - but instead it hit the wrong side of a boot to go out for a goal kick. Brayson again came close with a header inside the box that needed a save from Beasant.
Then with the game seemingly ending a draw, Forest scored the goal that sent Reading down into Division Two. A piece of individual skill from Bart-Williams was all it took. Twisting through the defence in the area, wide out to the left, to fire past Howie. And Reading's Division One days were over - for now at least.
Here's looking forward to the final game at Elm Park next Sunday. It'll be nice not having to worry about trying to stay up. Lets just go out there and stuff them to end the season in the right way.