Cureton Brace Gives Royals Victory

Last updated : 14 August 2002 By Rob Cooper
Reading got their first victory of the season last night, they defeated Sheffield Wednesday thanks to two second half strikes from Jamie Cureton.

Having not started on Saturday, Curo was keen to prove Alan Pardew was wrong to leave him out.

There was just one change from the side that lost 3-0 at Derby on Saturday, Sammy Igoe dropped to the bench and was replaced by the afore mentioned Jamie Cureton.

With an extra striker on the field Pards dropped Saturday's negative tactics; switching from a 4-5-1 formation to his prefered 4-4-2.

The Royals made a bright start to the game, early on the passing and movement was excellent, Nicky Shorey and Martin Butler were looking particuarly impressive.

During their good spell Reading created several half chances. Andy Hughes flashed a volley narrowly wide early on but the best chance fell to Butler who tried to flick the ball over Pressman from eight yards but could only shoot over the bar under pressure.

The good performance was not to last, Gerald Sibon fired the visitors into a seventeenth minute lead with an excellent strike from outside the box.

The highly-rated Dutchman should never have been allowed to get his shot away, James Harper and Adie Williams should both have stopped the move before it developed.

The goal was a catalyst for an avalanche of chances for the Owls. The Royals played some of their very worst football in that spell, the sort of play that saw them concede three goals in quick succession at Derby last weekend.

Former Stockport player Shefki Kuqi should have got his name on the scoresheet, he shot narrowly wide from an acute angle. Sliding in Simon Donnelly was unable to get a toe on the ball to turn it into the net.

Irishman Alan Quinn then fired a yard wide of the post following a moment of defensive uncertainty.

After having made such an excellent start to the game Alan Pardew's boys were booed off at half time for an inept performance - in truth they should have been applauded for managing to concede only one goal.

Phil Whitehead's kicking was atrocious, John Salako was isolated for large periods of the game and James Harper couldn't complete a simple pass. Things weren't looking good at half time.

The second half saw a much improved performance from the Royals, whatever was Alan Pardew said to the team in the dressing room at half time it must have worked.

James Harper was brought off and replaced by Sammy Igoe at the break, little Sammy responded immediately winning the ball by the corner flag, before playing the ball back to Murty, who ppassed it into Hughes; Hughes fired a low ball across the box for Cureton. Curo's dispatched his low shot from ten yards past Pressman.

The goal was just what was needed, suddenly Reading were on top again and started playing good football once more.

John Salako thought he should have had a penalty soon after the equaliser went in, he appeared to be tripped inside the box. However, the referee waved play on. On closer inspection there was indeed contact, but, Salako went down like he'd been shot.

There were alarm bells ringing in the Reading defence when Alan Wuinn's cross was powered against the crossbar by Leigh Bromby, but by and large the defence did well to resist the Owls attacks in the second half.

Sammy Igoe could have put the home side ahead but after breaking from inside his own half upon bursting into the box he hit a woeful shot that would have flown miles wide had it not deflected off a Wednesday defender. In the end Pressman did well to stop it flying past him.

With twelve minutes remaining Jamie Cureton got what proved to be the decisive goal. Almost identical to the first; Murty played the ball into hughes, who crossed for Curo who hit an identical shot into the net.

There were a few finger nails being bitten in the final few minutes, Whitehead did well to stop a deflected long-range shot, Graeme Murty got in just in time to scramble the ball away.

The visitors pushed forward and thoguth they'd equalised when Tony Crane powered Alan Quinn's corner into the net. However, the referee spotted that Crane used his hand to punch the ball in.

The Owls fans went mad thinking that they were level, as 'goal' proivder Alan Quinn protested he managed to talk himself into a yellow card. With seconds of the game remaining the 23-year-old received his marching orders for a late-lunge on John Salako, borne completely out of frustration.

It was a good, if slightly lucky, victory. The next game is at home to Coventry City on Saturday.

The 13,568 strong crowd provided excellent support throughout - even if the club had earlier predicted a 20,000 gate.