Can Forster unlock Blues' defence again
NICKY Forster, Reading's 29-year-old striker, scored a hat-trick against Ipswich Town at the Madejski Stadium in October. His pace rattled the Ipswich defence yet, amazingly, Royals' boss Alan Pardew is appealing to fans to “get off the back” of his 11-goal top scorer.
NICKY Forster, Reading's 29-year-old striker, scored a hat-trick against Ipswich Town at the Madejski Stadium in October. His pace rattled the Ipswich defence yet, amazingly, Royals' boss Alan Pardew is appealing to fans to “get off the back” of his 11-goal top scorer, writes Tony Garnett.
Forster joined Birmingham City for £700,000 from Brentford. He moved on to Reading for £650,000 and was named in the PFA Division Two side last season.
Reading's consistency has been one of the surprises of the season. It has reflected great credit on 41-year-old Pardew, who is now rated amongst the brightest of the Nationwide League bosses.
The Reading defence is solid with plenty of experience. American goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann joined from Fulham, where he became third choice on the arrival of Edwin van der Sar.
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The vastly-experienced Welsh international central defender Adie Williams is doubtful with a knee injury which may be a relief to Pablo Counago, who was shown the red card for over-reacting in a tussle with Williams in the autumn.
Matthew Upson, now at Birmingham City, was on loan to Reading from Arsenal in the previous meeting. Now Reading look to Steve Brown (14 seasons at Charlton) but John Mackie, who started his career with Sutton United, starts a three-match ban tonight for making racist comments in the match against Sheffield United.
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Right-back Graeme Murty is hardly a household name, yet he cost £700,000 from York City and was voted player of the year by Royals' fans. He was also in the PFA Division Two side.
Nicky Shorey is an Essex boy who cost £25,000 from Leyton Orient. He signed a four-year contract with Reading just over a year ago.
Andy Hughes, a shrewd capture from Notts County, is a key man in central midfield while 22-year-old James Harper is a Chelmsford-born former Arsenal trainee. He is a good passer of the ball and seems to be a bargain at £400,000.
Twenty-year-old Nathan Tyson has plenty of pace. He is a Reading lad who was allowed to gain experience in loan spells at Swansea and Cheltenham last season. It seems a toss-up between the speedy Tyson and the far more experienced former England international John Salako on the left-wing.
Ipswich have come across Steve Sidwell already this season in the 1-1 draw with Brighton at the Withdean Stadium. Sidwell is a 20-year-old who found the path to progress blocked at Arsenal by foreign superstars.
Salako may be on the bench together with former Rotherham United midfielder Kevin Watson.
Tony Rougier is on loan at Brighton while Jamie Cureton (ex-Norwich) is on the fringes although out of favour since recovering from a bout of gastro-enteritis.
Pardew feels that he has a young team with no fear which goes into games in super-positive mode. Even a pay cut has not dampened his enthusiasm which he hopes will eventually lift him to the very top of the management tree.
One of Reading's greatest past players, goalkeeper Steve Death, is a West Suffolk lad from Beyton.
Death set a League record of 11 successive clean sheets in the 1978-79 season. He held out for a total of 1,103 minutes before Stewart Henderson put an own goal past him. Death also made 156 successive League appearances between April 1978 and April 1981.
It's impressive but comes nowhere near to matching Matt Holland at Ipswich.