Looking back now, it seems strange to say that Reading were in the same league as Oxford just 15 years ago, but on April 17 2001. Reading went to Oxford on a Tuesday night and took a big step in what looked like was going to be Reading's promotion to the Championship, after a 2-0 win gave us the bragging rights against our local rivals.
Going into the game, it seemed inevitable that Reading were going to pick up the 3 points. Oxford were the first team in England to be relegated that season and also became the first ever to be relegated before Easter. Reading, on the other hand were chasing promotion, and with a win looked like they were going to get it should results go our way.
The game itself showed the quality between the two sides, and many fans have compared the game to when we beat Grays in the FA Cup that same season. The difference between the two sides was a huge gap and you could tell which end of the table both teams were (that's without a doubt because let's face it... we're much better than "them").
Attendance-wise there was 6,886 fans in the ground, and unsurprisingly for that season, we sold out and brought 2,500 fans to the short trip of Oxford. The Royals would start the same side that played against Bury the weekend before (where we won 4-1). Judas (sorry, I mean Alan Pardew) therefore gave a start to Anthony Rougier ahead of the unavailable Jim McIntyre.
Oxford showed us exactly what they are capable of at the start of the game. The corner flag was in grave danger due to a few wayward shots to say the least.
The first attack of the game for us though came just after the 20 minute mark and lead to another Jamie Cureton goal, and put us 1-0 up. It clearly meant so much to all the fans, who could probably be heard all the way back in Reading celebrating the goal. Oxford did have a decent chance in the second half though, after a mistake lead to the Oxford striker living up to expectations: missing from six yards out.
Recently returning Nicky Forster came on off the bench just after half time too, to replace the goal scorer Cureton. He also got on the score sheet and the ref gave it... but moments later the lino gave a foul for the Oxford defender who was widely acknowledged as having no one around him.
We did get that second though when Martin Butler scored in the 71st minute and Reading held out for a 2-0 victory. In an all-round solid performance from every player on the pitch.
With the win Reading would just need Rotherham to lose away at Wigan (who were trying for the play-offs too) and we would be up, second to leaders Millwall. But sadly as we know, Reading would go on to lose the play off final to Walsall, after missing out on automatic promotion.