Reading 4-2 Wolverhampton Wanderers, 18th December 1994Reading Football club was very much at crisis point in December 1994. Promotion from Division Two had been achieved in spectacular style at the end of the 1993-94 season, but the charismatic coaching team of Mark McGhee, Colin Lee and Mike Hickman had suddenly resigned en bloc on the Wednesday before the Wolves fixture.
They had all left to join Leicester City, and with no immediate successor available, Chairman John Madejski had appointed a committee of four senior first team players – Mick Gooding, Jeff Hopkins, Jimmy Quinn and Adrian Williams – to coach, select and run the first eleven.
Mainly due to the controversy surrounding the managerial upheaval at Elm Park, plus the fact that both teams were challenging for the promotion spot, the Reading versus Wolves game was shown live on ITV.
The home team were still trying to get themselves organised when England centre-forward Steve Bull gave the visitors the lead on nine minutes. A corner kick taken by Darren Ferguson reached the unmarked Bull, who headed powerfully past Shaka Hislop from close range.
Reading gradually forced their way into the match and deservedly levelled on 24 minutes. Stuart Lovell sent a long, raking pass out to Scott Taylor on the left and when his cross came into the Wolves area, midfielder Simon Osborn directed a firm but looping header over the dive of goalkeeper Mike Stowell.
Reading took the lead seven minutes before the break. Phil Parkinson created the second goal, holding up the ball wide of the Wolves goal until Quinn – 25% of the player-management team – arrived in support to head Parkinson’s accurate cross past a bemused Stowell.
Wolves introduced a third striker, Lee Mills, at the start of the second half, and Reading were grateful to Hislop, who made brave, diving saves from Bull and Mills, to protect the Royals’ lead.
Reading hit back as Osborn’s 25-yard volley thudded against Wolves’ goalpost, but the visitors drew level on the hour mark. Ferguson’s quickly taken free-kick was intercepted by Quinn as Don Goodman challenged, but Quinn’s attempted clearance was misheaded and he only succeeded in deflecting the ball past Hislop for an unfortunate own goal.
Within three minutes Reading had regained the lead. Stuart Lovell tricked his way past John de Wolf and shot for goal. Stowell looked to have the attempt covered, but the ball slipped under his dive and Michael Gilkes ran in at the far post to slide home Reading’s third goal.
Danger man Goodman twice tested Hislop from corners as Reading’s marking slackened but the home side made the game safe with a fourth goal in injury time. Substitute Uwe Hartenberger beat de Wolf for pace before slipping a pass out to Quinn. His centre reached Gilkes and although his initial shot was blocked, his was able to sidefoot home the rebound to give his team a 4-2 victory in a game which certainly did not lack on thrills!
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