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This Week In Reading FC History: Play Off Drama Of 2000-01

In his latest Reading history entry, Higgy recounts one of the most famous nights at the Madejski, a playoff win against Wigan Athletic.

Christopher Lee/Getty Images

With one win, we'd be in the play-off final in Cardiff. After a draw at Wigan the week before, all we needed was one win and we did it in one of the most emphatic ways possible. Losing one minute... to winning the next. Oh and did I mention it was in the last minutes of the game?

Scene

As I said, all we needed was to win here at the Madejski. The scene itself was perfect, with 21,000 fans packed inside the ground. Everyone was coloured up and the atmosphere was the best that the ground has ever witnessed. Fireworks were let off on the pitch before the game and the players looked more determined than ever.

Match

The game itself was eventful; the first real notable thing to happen though was when the ref had to stop play, due to there being so many blue and white balloons surrounding Roy Carroll, who was in goal for Wigan that day.

Straight from the get go it was clear what Wigan's mentality and game was, and that was to sit back and try to sneak in an odd goal. Their plan looked as if it may play out. 25 minutes in, Ady Williams giving away the free kick, just outside our box. This was his first game back fully fit, after being on the bench last week. The tackle seemed clean, but the ref thought otherwise. The free kick itself made us suffer. Wigan's midfielder Nicholas scored the goal, slotting it just past the wall and all our hopes and dreams were fading.

The second half produced more chances for Reading, but again no goal. Butler had his shot cannon off the cross bar and wasted several chances. With it becoming late in the game, it seemed like all hope would be gone. Nicky Forster then came on for Jimmy McIntyre - this might be one of the best subs in our history.

With just 10 minutes to try and make an impact Forster knew what he had to do. We had minutes left, or the dream would be over. Forster had other ideas. He ran down right wing, getting past two Wigan defenders in the process. He whipped the cross into the box, it wasn't cleared well and then Butler sent the ball flying into the back of the net! IT WAS 1-1! The place erupted and the fans were given hope that we could go on and win the game in extra time. Forster on the other hand had other plans.

In injury time, Fozzy went on another run, this time being brought down in the box. Penalty. Naturally Jamie Cureton stepped up, he missed. The penalty itself wasn't bad, the keeper just made a good save. What came next though, completed maybe one of the best comebacks of its time. The keeper spilled the ball and Nicky Forster, the man who won the penalty, scored! We were winning! In the 90th minute Nicky Forster had put Reading 2-1 up and we were on our way to Cardiff.

The next few minutes were the longest minutes of any Reading fan's life. But then the whistle blew, and we knew we had done it. The pitch invasion happened and as soon as we were cleared off the pitch, the players were back out and so were the champagne bottles. We were on our way to the play off final!

Line Ups

Reading

Whitehead, Gurney, Viveash, Williams, Robinson, Parkinson, Caskey(Harper), Igoe (Forster), Cureton, Butler, McIntyre (Rougier).

Subs not used: Howie, Hunter.

Wigan Athletic

Carroll, Bradshaw, Sharp, McGibbon, De Zeeuw, Nicholls, Beagrie, Green, Martinez, Haworth, Liddell (Ashcroft)

Subs not used: Stillie, Roberts, Sheridan, Griffiths.