WE ARE PROMOTED!!!
The game was a sell out, They even had a big screen at the Madjeski for the thousands who didn't have tickets. Nick had to pay fifty quid to get in.
I was glued to the internet coverage.Called Nick at the final whistle and he held the phone so I could hear the crowd and join in with the singing!!
Went out and got very drunk later.|
BRENTFORD 1 READING 1
The sorcerer's apprentice just about pulled off the trick at Griffin Park, yesterday, as Alan Pardew's Reading recovered to snatch the point they needed to gain automatic promotion back to the First Division, where they last played in 1998.|
Pardew's mentor Steve Coppell and Brentford, who had to win to go up, were thus condemned to a play-off semi-final against Huddersfield Town, from whom they have taken four points in a season of no small achievement.
While Reading were the bookmakers' championship favourites from the outset, Brentford were nobody's idea of contenders. Fourteenth last season, with no money to strengthen the squad and the chairman Ron Noades desperate to move home - he has tried Loftus Road, Kingstonian and Woking among others - their progress has been extraordinary.
Scarcely less remarkable, you might say, than Coppell's in taking Crystal Palace to third place in the top division and the FA Cup 12 years ago, when Pardew and Reading's midfielder John Salako were in his team. Last night Coppell was using all his experience in allowing Brentford to grieve, before reminding them that they have finished third in the table, as the division's top scorers. "In 23 home games we've won 17 and had only one defeat and I'm proud of them," he said. "Now, like an alcoholic, they've got to hit rock bottom tonight, then get it out of their system and bounce back."
The problem with yesterday's goal, by Martin Rowlands, was that it came at a time, soon after the interval, that encouraged Brentford to think they could retreat and hold onto it. "As soon as we scored, we sat back and they pushed on," Coppell said. Lloyd Owusu, the club's leading scorer with 21 goals, created the chance, bursting onto Ijah Anderson's pass down the left and cutting the ball back perfectly for Rowlands to drive low past Phil Whitehead.
Steve Sidwell, on loan from Arsenal, was one of the few home players happy to put his foot on the ball and use it constructively. He might have doubled the lead almost immediately, and the chants of "we're going up" were heard for the first time. But there was a long way to go, and Reading were at last committed to attack. The Bees suddenly found themselves swarming backwards, Phil Parkinson's header straight at the goalkeeper after 53 minutes bringing the visitors' first effort on target.
Jamie Cureton, the scorer of 30 goals last season, but a substitute recently, was sent on for a midfielder, Sammy Igoe and although Nicky Forster nominally dropped a little deeper, Cureton and Salako on the flanks often turned the formation into a 4-4-2, as time ticked on.
Pardew's ploy paid off within 10 minutes. Parkinson rose highest to a diagonal free-kick from the left and his flick left Cureton in a position to keep his head with the coolness of a natural goalscorer and lob Paul Smith into the far corner of the net. Brentford heads went down, on the pitch and in the stands, before a final fling in which the Icelandic defender Ivar Ingimarsson shot over the bar and Paul Evans' free-kick was headed away by Adie Williams.
Frustratingly, they had made what few chances there were in an angst-ridden first half. The referee, Frazer Stretton, sensibly laid down the law early on and got his first yellow card in after only five minutes, cautioning Brentford's Anderson. Just as the visitors seemed to have weathered the opening quarter of an hour without alarm, however, Brentford began to find their range, and remained the more dangerous side until half-time.
The best opportunity came in the 45th minute, when the normally reliable Owusu was sent clear by Rowlands, but chose an indecisive cross-shot that was neither fish not fowl, the Royals' Graeme Murty reaching the ball first.
After the final whistle, there were potentially unpleasant scenes as a number of home supporters made their way onto the pitch, without managing to reach either the 2,500 Reading fans or players. Before the intruders had been persuaded to leave by a posse of police horses, the visiting players had to make their way through them to the dressing-room, but sportsmanship prevailed, and handshakes, rather than fists, were offered.
The vital equalizer at Griffin park
And the ensuing celebrations
The fans before the game
Waiting for kick off
Nicky Forster in action
The chairman gives Jamie a hug...
...and gets a little carried away
Players celebrate in the changing room
The club coach arrives back at the Madjeski
Party in the town centre on sunday