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Another one to tick off the list…

15 January 2016

A look at our new away days in recent seasons

We’ll be playing our first ever competitive meeting away at MK Dons on Saturday – and we had already surpassed the 2,500-mark for tickets sold for the away end as of Friday morning!

No doubt many of you travelling Royals will be relishing the prospect of ticking a new ground off the list, visiting a new stadium for the first time.  A few will have travelled to our pre-season friendly in 2008; for most, it'll be a first ever trip to stadium:mk.  If you haven't got a ticket yet, you can still buy on arrival at the stadium - click here for ticket information.

Of course, our visit to Wembley in 2011 to face Swansea City in the Championship play-off final was also a first trip to a newly-built stadium.  We had been to the previous incarnation on two occasions before, for the 1988 Simod Cup win against Luton and the First Division play-off final defeat to Bolton in 1995.  For the sake of this article, we'll keep our focus on our away days, rather than our visit to the national stadium!

Regular ground-hopping followers of the Royals have had a few first-time away visits to stadia in the last few seasons.  We look at the last 6 grounds that we have visited for the very first time in competitive action…

Weston Homes Community Stadium (Colchester United)
Tuesday 11th August 2015

Our midweek visit to Essex earlier this season gave us our first ever visit to the Weston Homes Community Stadium.  The U’s new ground opened in 2008, ending a 98-year stay at Layer Road – a ground that the Royals had visited plenty of times on their travels historically.  An impressive 595 supporters made the long midweek journey to get behind Reading in our Capital One Cup first round fixture – and they got an extra 30 minutes’ worth of value from their match ticket, as Chris Gunter’s goal deep into extra time settled the game.

New York Stadium (Rotherham United)
Tuesday 28th April 2015

The New York Stadium – so named because it was built on the site of a foundry that constructed the Big Apple’s distinctive fire hydrants – is a stone’s throw from where Millmoor used to lie.  We never travelled to Rotherham during their years in exile at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield, but we faced them in Championship action on their new patch for the first time at the back end of last season – despite Ollie Norwood’s late strike, the hosts won 2-1.  210 supporters made the midweek journey up to South Yorkshire – the game was meant to take place a month earlier, but it clashed with our FA Cup semi-final trip to Wembley.

Huish Park (Yeovil Town)
Saturday 31st August 2013

Yeovil have been at Huish Park since 1990, relocating from their home for the previous 70 years at Huish Athletic Stadium – but only once have we ever been their visitors.  That came two seasons ago, during their first and only ever campaign in the second tier of English football.  The Glovers, who had recently won the League 1 play-offs, were our third away hosts after we had dropped down from the Premier League; Adam Le Fondre’s late penalty gave the whopping 2,103 travelling fans plenty to cheer about as it ended 1-0.  Amazingly, Huish Park could host non-League football next season – the Glovers suffered consecutive relegations, and now sit 23rd in the League 2 standings.

Broadfield Stadium (Crawley Town)
Saturday 5th January 2013

Crawley were our FA Cup third round opponents in 2012/13 – ten years prior, they had been a Southern League proposition.  The Red Devils, then a League 1 side, knocked non-League sides Met Police and Chelmsford en route to round three – but that was where their tournament ended.  Nicky Adams had the hosts ahead within a minute, but Adam Le Fondre notched twice and Noel Hunt scored one as we progressed to the next stage.  Hope Akpan was in the home dressing room that day – three days later, he signed for Reading.  1,955 Reading fans made the trip to Sussex, making up more than a third of the attendance, on our only ever competitive fixture against Crawley.

American Express Community Stadium (Brighton & Hove Albion)
Tuesday 10th April 2012

We have visited Brighton's new home in Falmer on four occasions already – the first of those four trips came as recently as the 2011/12 season, when Ian Harte's deflected free-kick gave us a 1-0 win and all three points in front of 2,733 Royals supporters.  Throughout the history books, we had visited the Seagulls on numerous occasions at the Goldstone Ground and Withdean Stadium (but not at Gillingham's Priestfield Stadium, when that was used as a temporary home in the late 1990s).  We were one of four teams to beat Brighton on their own patch in the Championship during their first season at the Amex – our latest fixture there has been moved to a Friday evening for broadcast live on Sky Sports.

Broadhall Way (Stevenage)
Saturday 29th January 2011

Two seasons before our Crawley visit, Stevenage – in their first ever Football League season – had their remarkable FA Cup run ended when we visited Broadhall Way in the fourth round.  MK Dons, AFC Wimbledon and Newcastle all took an early exit from the competition at the hands of the Boro.  Darius Charles had pegged back for the hosts after Mikele Leigertwood’s first-half goal, but Shane Long’s 87th-minute goal sealed a 2-1 win for Reading and the 1,392 Royals supporters that had joined us on our first competitive trip to meet Stevenage.  A year later, Stevenage had their vengeance – an FA Cup third round fixture at Madejski Stadium saw an upset as Charles fired in the game’s only goal from the edge of the area.

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