<< Season 2002-03 >>

Nicky Forster In their first season back in the First Division, Reading exceeded all expectations by reaching the play-offs once again. Alan Pardew met the demands of the higher division by switching from 4-4-2 to a 4-5-1 formation built around the speed and skill of Nicky Forster up front. American international goalie Marcus Hahnemann was a key signing in a tight defence that kept seven successive clean sheets. Matthew Upson, on loan from Arsenal, also impressed during this run, to the extent that he won his first call-up to an England squad, but Murty, Shorey and Williams were outstanding all season, as was Steve Brown, who was brought in to replace Upson. In midfield, James Harper matured into an effective play-maker, particularly in another run of five successive wins in February, which also featured another ex-Arsenal man, Steve Sidwell, and Luke Chadwick, on loan from Manchester United.

In the play-offs, Reading produced an excellent performance for an hour at Wolves, going ahead through a Nicky Forster effort. However an injury to Forster disrupted the system, and a resilient Wolves team fought back to take a 2-1 lead into the second leg. In front of another record Madejski Stadium crowd of 24,060, Reading dominated the return fixture but could not break through a well-organised defence, and Wolves hit the only goal late in the game to secure a place in the final, where they secured a far more comfortable win over Sheffield United.

Division 1 (4th, Not promoted after play-off)

       Derby County      A  L  0-3
       Sheffield Wed     H  W  2-1         Cureton 2
       Coventry City     H  L  1-2         Cureton (pen)
       Leicester City    A  L  1-2         Cureton (pen)
       Burnley           H  W  3-0         Cureton 2, Butler
       Walsall           A  W  2-0         Hughes 2
       Rotherham Utd     A  D  0-0
       Wimbledon         H  L  0-1
       Norwich City      H  L  0-2
       Wolverhampton W   A  W  1-0         Hughes
       Stoke City        H  D  1-1         Rougier
       Grimsby Town      A  W  3-0         Hughes, Forster, Pouton (og)
       Ipswich Town      H  W  3-1         Forster 3
       Preston NE        A  L  0-1
       Bradford City     H  W  1-0         Shorey
       Millwall          H  W  2-0         Forster, Hughes
       Gillingham        A  W  1-0         Rougier
       Watford           H  W  1-0         Watson
       Crystal Palace    A  W  1-0         Forster
       Brighton & HA     A  W  1-0         Salako
       Portsmouth        H  D  0-0
       Sheffield Utd     H  L  0-2
       Nottingham F      A  L  0-2
       Coventry City     A  L  0-2
       Derby County      H  W  2-1         Tyson, Cureton
       Sheffield Wed     A  L  2-3         Forster, Butler
       Walsall           H  D  0-0
       Leicester City    H  L  1-3 *       Hughes
       Burnley           A  W  5-2         Sidwell 2, Salako 2, Henderson
       Gillingham        H  W  2-1         Chadwick, Salako
       Millwall          A  W  2-0         Forster, Henderson
       Sheffield Utd     A  W  3-1         Forster 2, Williams
       Rotherham Utd     H  W  3-0         Harper, Hughes, Forster
       Wimbledon         A  L  0-2
       Norwich City      A  W  1-0         Kenton (og)
       Wolverhampton W   H  L  0-1
       Crystal Palace    H  W  2-1         Brown, Harper
       Ipswich Town      A  L  1-3         Forster
       Bradford City     A  W  1-0         Forster
       Brighton & HA     H  L  1-2         Cureton
       Preston NE        H  W  5-1         Forster 3, Shorey (pen), Henderson
       Nottingham F      H  W  1-0         Hughes
       Portsmouth        A  L  0-3
       Grimsby Town      H  W  2-1         Little, Hughes
       Watford           A  W  3-0         Rougier, Henderson, Cureton
       Stoke City        A  L  0-1

       * earlier match abandoned with score 0-0

Division 1 Table

                        PL  HW HD HL  HF  HA  AW AD AL  AF  AA  PTS
 1. Portsmouth          46  17  3  3  52  22  12  8  3  45  23   98
 2. Leicester City      46  16  5  2  40  12  10  9  4  33  28   92
 3. Sheffield Utd+      46  13  7  3  38  23  10  4  9  34  29   80
 4. READING+            46  13  3  7  33  21  12  1 10  28  25   79
 5. Wolverhampton W+    46   9 10  4  40  19  11  6  6  41  25   76
 6. Nottingham F+       46  14  7  2  57  23   6  7 10  25  27   74
 7. Ipswich Town        46  10  5  8  49  39   9  8  6  31  25   70
 8. Norwich City        46  14  4  5  36  17   5  8 10  24  32   69
 9. Millwall            46  11  6  6  34  32   8  3 12  25  37   66
10. Wimbledon           46  12  5  6  39  28   6  6 11  37  45   65
11. Gillingham          46  10  6  7  33  31   6  8  9  23  34   62
12. Preston NE          46  11  7  5  44  29   5  6 12  24  41   61
13. Watford             46  11  5  7  33  26   6  4 13  21  44   60
14. Crystal Palace      46   8 10  5  29  17   6  7 10  30  35   59
15. Rotherham Utd       46   8  9  6  27  25   7  5 11  35  37   59
16. Burnley             46  10  4  9  35  44   5  6 12  30  45   55
17. Walsall             46  10  3 10  34  34   5  6 12  23  35   54
18. Derby County        46   9  5  9  33  32   6  2 15  22  42   52
19. Bradford City       46   7  8  8  27  35   7  2 14  24  38   52
20. Coventry City       46   6  6 11  23  31   6  8  9  23  31   50
21. Stoke City          46   9  6  8  25  25   3  8 12  20  44   50
22. Sheffield Wed       46   7  7  9  29  32   3  9 11  27  41   46
23. Brighton & HA       46   7  6 10  29  31   4  6 13  20  36   45
24. Grimsby Town        46   5  6 12  26  39   4  6 13  22  46   39

    + after play-off

Position Graph

Position Graph

Division 1 Play-offs

SF(1)  Wolverhampton W   A  L  1-2         Forster
SF(2)  Wolverhampton W   H  L  0-1 [1-3]
FA Cup
R3     Walsall1          A  D  0-0
R3(R)  Walsall1          H  D  1-1 *       Aranalde (og)

       * after extra time, lost 1-4 on penalties
League Cup
R1     Cambridge Utd3    A  L  1-3         Upson

Top Scorers

                        LG  FA  LC  MC  ALL  PEN  HAT    RATE
 1. Nicky Forster       16   0   0   1   17    0    2   0.386
 2. Jamie Cureton        9   0   0   0    9    2    0   0.281
    Andy Hughes          9   0   0   0    9    0    0   0.191
 4. Darius Henderson     4   0   0   0    4    0    0   0.160
    John Salako          4   0   0   0    4    0    0   0.087
 6. Anthony Rougier      3   0   0   0    3    0    0   0.136
 7. Martin Butler        2   0   0   0    2    0    0   0.083
    James Harper         2   0   0   0    2    0    0   0.050
    Nicky Shorey         2   0   0   0    2    1    0   0.042
    Steve Sidwell        2   0   0   0    2    0    0   0.133
11. Steve Brown          1   0   0   0    1    0    0   0.040
    Luke Chadwick        1   0   0   0    1    0    0   0.059
    Glen Little          1   0   0   0    1    0    0   0.143
    Nathan Tyson         1   0   0   0    1    0    0   0.038
    Kevin Watson         1   0   0   0    1    0    0   0.030
    Adrian Williams      1   0   0   0    1    0    0   0.024
17. Matthew Upson        0   0   1   0    1    0    0   0.067
18. Own goals            2   1   0   0    3    0    0   0.059
    Line
    Totals              61   1   1   1   64    3    2   1.255

Most Appearances

                        LG    FA    LC    MC    ALL     SUM
 1. Nicky Shorey        43     2     1     2     48      48
 2. Graeme Murty        43+1   2     0     2     47+1    48
 3. Andy Hughes         41+2   0+1   1     2     44+3    47
 4. Marcus Hahnemann    41     2     1     2     46      46
 5. John Salako         33+10  0+2   1     0     34+12   46
 6. Nicky Forster       35+5   1+1   1     1     38+6    44
 7. Adrian Williams     38     0     0+1   2     40+1    41
 8. James Harper        34+2   2     0     2     38+2    40
 9. Kevin Watson        24+8   0     0     0+1   24+9    33
10. Ricky Newman        21+7   2     1     0+1   24+8    32
11. Jamie Cureton       13+14  1+1   1     1+1   16+16   32
12. John Mackie         20+5   2     1     0     23+5    28
13. Nathan Tyson         9+14  2     0     0+1   11+15   26
14. Steve Brown         21     2     0     2     25      25
15. Darius Henderson     1+21  0+1   0     2      3+22   25
16. Martin Butler       12+9   2     1     0     15+9    24
17. Anthony Rougier     13+7   0     0+1   0+1   13+9    22
18. Sammy Igoe           8+7   2     0+1   0     10+8    18
19. Luke Chadwick       15     0     0     1+1   16+1    17
20. Steve Sidwell       13     0     0     2     15      15
21. Matthew Upson       13+1   0     1     0     14+1    15
22. Glen Little          6     0     0     1      7       7
23. Phil Parkinson       0+6   0     1     0      1+6     7
24. Adrian Viveash       4+1   0     0     0      4+1     5
25. Phil Whitehead       4     0     0     0      4       4
26. Jamie Ashdown        1     0     0     0      1       1
27. Darren Campbell      0+1   0     0     0      0+1     1
    Peter Castle         0+1   0     0     0      0+1     1
    Alex Smith           0+1   0     0     0      0+1     1
    Line
    Totals              46     2     1     2     51      51