Pardew's Unwise Tactical Change Triggers Royals Collapse

By Rob Cooper
Last updated : 10 August 2002
Ravenelli Fires in a Free Kick
Ravenelli Fires in a Free Kick
Alan Pardew's second half tactical gamble cost the Royals in their first Division One game for five years.

After an excellent first half Pards chose to switch from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2, brining off Sammy Igoe and replacing him with fan's favourite Jamie Cureton.

With the midfield comprimised in favour of the attack Derby veteran Rob Lee and midfield accomplishes Boulder, Murray and Morris began to dictate the game and helped set up three quick Derby County goals.

Club captain Phil Parkisnon was somewhat surprisingly dropped from the starting line-up in favour of youngster James Harper. Harps has spent the summer training hard and on the day of the game put in a good performance.

Martin Butler started on his own up front, despite scoring a hat-trick against West Ham on Monday Jamie Cureton was only on the bench. There was no place for Nicky Forster either, last season's top scorer had to sit out with a viral infection.

In the first half Reading played some good football and managed to create some half chances.

The Rams signalled their intent in the tenth minute when Lee Morris fired a dangerous ball across the Reading six-yard box but Mackie put the ball behind for a corner.

After an assured opening from the Royals they failed to close down Italian Fabrizo Ravenelli on the edge of the box, the Italian swivelled and hit an excellent shot that Phil Whitehead did well to save.

The home side pressed but the Royals battled, Nicky Shorey did well to block Bolder's twenty-seventh minute shot that may have found its way past Phil Whitehead.

Adam Murray was guilty of firing wide from the edge of the box soon after when he really should have done better. At the other end of the field a long ball was flicked on for Butler, the striker got to the ball before Derby 'keeper Poom but clipped him as he went past resulting in a free kick for the Rams.

Ravenelli came closest to breaking the deadlock in the first half, his twenty-five yard free-kick hit the post as Royal's shotstopper Whitehead stood motionless.

Reading went in at half-time with their heads held high, the fans, who gave excellent vocal support, were certainly impressed, the team had more than held their own against an ex-Premiership side.

Derby came out for the second half all fired up and created some excellent chances early on.

Butler battles for the ball
Butler battles for the ball
Boertein's forty-sixth minute corner was met by Ravenelli, who had an excellent game, but Phil Whitehead did really well to block the Italian's effort.

Shortly afterwards Ravenelli met another corner. This time his header beat Phil Whitehead, fortunately for the Royals Kevin Watson was on the line to block the effort and frustrate the Rams.

On fifty-one minutes another Ravenelli inspired attack ended in a missed oppertunity, former England under 21 striker Malcolm Christie screwed his shot wide.

Cometh the hour cometh Jamie Cureton. Alan Pardew's substitution brought a standing ovation from Reading fans but barely they barely had time to sit down to see the Rams fire in their sixty-first minute opener.

Former Newcastle midfielder Rob Lee received the ball from Lee Boertein twenty yards out and controlled it before rifling a low shot past the unsighted Whitehead.

The Royals defence all looked at each other knowing that one of them should have closed Lee down and not allowed him the time and space to get his shot in.

Ravenelli jumps with Williams for a header
Ravenelli jumps with Williams for a header
Three minutes later Fabrizio Ravenelli got his name on the scoresheet. Malcolm Christie twisted and turned his way into the penalty area, and when blocked by captain for the day John Mackie the former Supermarket Shelf Staker squared the ball for 'The White Feather' who smashed home the second goal.

The Royals threatened to get back into it, John Salako's excellent long-range drive was blocked by Mart Poom as the Derby defence held firm.

But just eleven minutes after they had got their first goal the Rams got their third. Andy Hughes poorly gave the ball away to Raqvenelli on the edge of the six-yard box and the Italian squared for Christie who had an empty net to smash the ball into.

With the home side so far out in front the game petered out in the final stages, but to be fair the scoreline was maybe a little flattering for the home side.

Following the game Alan Pardew was disappointed with his tactical errors and also on the field mistakes which had cost the Royals. You can read Pards' comments here.

Kevin Watson meanwhile was a little more optimistic, suggesting that Reading had played well and will see the rewards in future matches. You can read 'Super Kev's' comments here.

The Royals' next fixture is on Tuesday, they entertain Sheffield Wednesday in what will be the Madejski Stadium's first Division One fixture.

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