Royals Battle From Two Goals Down To Draw 2-2

Last updated : 07 April 2002 By Rob Cooper

Reading battled back from two nil down to draw the seventh out of their last eight games. The result sees the Royals leapfrog Brentford and move into the second automatic promotion spot. Brighton are now promoted, and a win over Swindon next week will guarantee them the Championship.

Seagull's chief Peter Taylor told Sky Sports News “We are delighted to have secured promotion. This is fantastic for the club, they are trying to get a new stadium and prove how big the club can be. We are now in Division One and this can only help”.

Brentford meanwhile face a crunch game against near neighbours QPR at Loftus Road. A win for QPR and a win for Reading and the Royals will be up, otherwise it will go down to the wire, Reading face Brentford on the final day of the season. QPR are on form as well, they have won their last four games.

The Royals made just one change from the side that was frustrated by Northampton on Monday, Jamie Cureton who has been poor of late, was replaced by Trinidad & Tobago international Anthony Rougier. Rougier hadn't scored since 28th October 2000.

Tranmere, who had no need for the points, certainly played above themselves. But it was a spirited performance from the Royals. The opening stages of the game were scrappy to say the least. The first shot of the game was fired in by Graeme Murty, with six minutes on the clock. At the other end Simon Haworth curled a twenty-five yard effort over the bar.

After just a dull quarter of an hour played Tranmere goalkeeper John Achterberg was replaced by Joe Murphy, Achterberg had sustained an injury. The Royals could have taken the lead after twenty minutes but Murphy was in great form to turn a sizzling twenty-five yard drive from Nicky Forster over the bar. Minutes later Murphy did well again, turning away a goalbound cross from Nicky Forster.

Tranmere were pressing with Simon Haworth with the Prenton Park based sides best chances. Haworth fired wide of Whitehead's goal from the edge of the box on the half hour before another effort seven minutes later was easily claimed by the Reading goalkeeper.

A John Salako shot from the left hand edge of the penalty area was well parried by Murphy who proved to be a more than able deputy before Tranmere went up the other end of the pitch and opened the scoring through Stuart Barlow. Whitehead could only parry Andy Parkinson's drive from the edge of the box. Gareth Roberts crossed it back into the box and Barlow was there to head it over the line and give the home side the lead from the edge of the six yard box.

Kevin Watson shot over the bar in first half stoppage time, ensuring the Royals went in 1-0 down. Tranmere had played some good stuff at times but Reading were a little lucky to be behind, Nicky Forster had had two good efforts very well saved.

At the start of the second half it was disaster, Reading went 2-0 down and suddenly promotion hopes appeared to be in tatters. Phil Parkinson had forced a good save out of Murphy but at the other end Tranmere Rovers Man of the Match Simon Haworth beautifully lobbed Whitehead from outside the penalty area.

But just as the game appeared to be slipping away Anthony Rougier pulled a goal back, it was his first strike since 28th October 2000. It had been a long time coming but combined with John Salako's late effort could save the Royals season. Kevin Watson played a free kick out on the wing into the box, Phil Parkinson headed goalwards and Murphy was only able to parry it out to Rougier who was there to nod the ball into an empty net.

Forster had a shot blocked when he had a chance to make it 2-2 and at the other end Alan Navarro shot over from the edge of the box. After some good attacking play and in particular plenty of good crosses into the box from John Salako, Salako himself scored twenty minutes from time with a header into the bottom right hand corner of the goal off a Kevin Watson free kick.

Both sides pressed for a winner but it never came. It was a tense finish to a tense game but Reading held on for a draw. If we beat Peterborough next week and QPR beat Brentford then we will be promoted. Otherwise automatic promotion will be decided on the last day of the season when we travel to Brentford.