Reading v Posh Nationwide League Div 2 – 13 Apr 02
Venue: Madejski Stadium, Reading
Score: Peterborough Utd 2 v Reading 2
Officials: David Cricks, Ian Bentley, Iain Williamson and G. Chapman.
Leon McKenzie notched his 18tyh goal of the season to deny promotion hopefuls Reading the three points in front of over 20,000 spectators at the Madejski Stadium, in a match that saw 17 year old goalkeeper Luke Steele play a starring role on his professional debut.
The Madejski Stadium atmosphere was nothing short of electric prior to kick off but the assistant referee’s flag quashed Reading’s hopes of an early goal.
Luke Steele did well to parry a Tony Rougler shot in the third minute, and although Nicky Forster was on hand to turn the ball in from close range, the attack was adjudged offside.
Posh looked to silence the home crowd with an attack of their own on 12 minutes, but Alan Kimble could only direct his header straight at Royals goalkeeper Phil Whitehead after Leon McKenzie had crossed from the right flank.
Neale Fenn tried his luck from a set piece just outside the penalty area moments later after McKenzie had been felled, but again he sent his shot fizzing over the target.
Posh were out to spoil the promotion party and found themselves a goal to the good with 29 minutes on the clock, Matthew Gill unleashing a beautiful strike from 30 yards that Whitehead could only help on its way into the net.
The home side began to exert some pressure with a couple of John Salako corners, but on each occasion Posh were the dominant force firstly through Andy Edwards and then young debutant Steele.
The pressure was beginning to tell among the Reading players and with the home side supporters becoming very tense, Barry Fry’s men were well worth their one goal lead going in at the interval.
Former Cambridge Utd striker Martin Butler and attack minded midfielder Sammy Igoe were introduced a half time as Alan Pardew sent his troops out to attack the Posh rearguard, but it was to be the visitors who came out on top.
Steele produced a hat-trick of outstanding saves with 20 minutes remaining, firstly to deny a header from Butler and then to palm away two blistering strikes from Forster.
The former Birmingham City man was able though to go one better in the 73rd minute lashing a shot beyond Steele following a neat through ball from Igoe.
Butler almost put Reading in front less than 60 seconds later but saw Gill clear his low shot off the goal line.
The 77th minute saw the Royals win an indirect free kick inside the penalty area after Steele picked up an adjudged back pass from Dennis Pearce, but Butler could only strike against the defending wall.
Reading got themselves in front with 79 minutes on the clock, Forster heading home following Salako’s lobbed cross into the danger area.
But Posh were to frustrate the promotion favourites further four minutes later, McKenzie hooking the ball past Whitehead from close range after substitute Andy Clarke had produced a wicked run and cross in the penalty area.
David Oldfield who had only just come on as substitute for Matthew Gill tried his luck with a volley as stoppage time approached, but Whitehead was equal to the test.
Posh: Luke Steele, Matthew Gill (sub David Oldfield), Andy Edwards, Marc Joseph, Dennis Pearce, Helgi Danielsson, Jimmy Bullard, Richard Forsyth, Alan Kimble, (sub David Farrell), Neale Fenn (sub Andy Clarke) and Leon McKenzie.
Unused subs: Dan Conor and Gary MacDonald.
Reading: Phil Whitehead, Graeme Murty, John Mackie, (sub Ady Williams, sub Sammy Igoe), Adrian Viveash, Nicky Shorey, Andrew Hughes , Kevin Watson, Phil Parkinson, John Salako, Nicky Forster and Tony Rougier (sub Martin Butler).
Unused subs: Jamie Cureton and Frank Talia.
Goal scorers: Matthew Gill 29 mins and Leon McKenzie 83 mins (Posh). Nicky Forster (2) 73 mins and 79 mins (Reading).
Bookings: Graeme Murty – Reading. Leon McKenzie and Marc Joseph – Posh.