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All in the past - Reading

February 16 2010

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace matches at home to Reading are anything but run of the mill, writes Simon Pophale.

Matches against Reading have been, in the last 30 years, been something of a novelty. With only eight meetings at Selhurst in this period, it belies the rich history between the two clubs, which goes way back to our debut in the Third Division in 1920/21.

First, the Third for the first 57

Our past with Reading can be neatly split into two divisions – the Third tier under different names and the level above, with different names. Palace and Reading have never met in the top or bottom flight and also never met in the League Cup.

From 1920/21 until 1948/49 season, Reading would have view a trip to the Nest or Selhurst Park with the knowledge that it was not going to yield many, or any points.

Eight wins, four draws meant we kept up a very long unbeaten home record against The Biscuitmen, as Reading were then known. The matches were always fairly close and our biggest win in this period was a 3-0 triumph in the 1925/26 season.

January 1949 saw Reading win their first ever match at Selhurst Park with a single goal victory. Over the next 29 years, Reading won six times at our place with a couple of 3-0 wins (1950/51 & 1952/53) and also winning a seven goal thriller back in the 1960/61 season by the odd goal.

Between 1948 and 1953 we played 12 matches in total, 10 of which were in the League and the best we could manage at home was a single 1-1 draw from our five League games.

Between 1954 and 1977 the record improves with three wins (our best being the 4-1 thrashing meted out in 1963/64) and four draws and only two defeats.

At the end of the 1976/77 season, we moved into the Second Division and never darkened (so far) the Third Division since. This brought a gap of 10 years to the next time we would cross swords with The Royals.

That one below the Premier League

When called the Second Division, our record against Reading was woeful. Two matches, two defeats and we shipped three goals in each one.

We were soundly beaten 3-1 in the 1986/87 season before going one better, but still losing, in 1987/88. With Reading being relegated in 1988 and ourselves, promoted the following season, it would be seven years before the sides would meet again.

With Palace in transition following relegation from the top flight after a number of high profile players leaving and new ones coming in, the side would take some time to gel and a number of inconsistent displays in 1995/96 saw Reading came to Selhurst in November and register a 2-0 win, which saw our winless home run extended to six matches.

With our one season in the “Endsleigh”, the new sponsors were “Nationwide” and a change of sponsor brought us a victory in the 1996/97 season by 3-2. Steve Coppell had returned to the club and was in the midst of conjuring up another miracle as we were promoted, via the playoffs at the end of the season.

By the time we had descended from the farce that was our Premiership season, Reading had also descended into the third tier again so it would be five years before the sides met again.

The matches in the Noughties at Selhurst brought more draws than M&S as Reading last managed a win in 2002, but since then it has been honours even. Nicky Forster scored the only goal on November 26 2002, with both Danny Butterfield and Shaun Derry the sole survivors from our losing team.

Our promotion season of 2003/04 saw Reading come to Selhurst in the middle of our epic run to the play-offs and although it ended honours even with a 2-2 draw (Freedman and Johnson for us, Owusu twice for them), it did little to halt our resurgence up the table.

Season 2005/06 saw the boot firmly on the other foot as Reading were on an epic run of their own, with 28 unbeaten games behind them.

AJ, with a trademark penalty, put us in front but Reading equalised almost instantly through James Harper and it finished 1-1. Reading ended up winning the title with a record number of points and goals and Steve Coppell was a hero again.

Last Time Out

Reading’s relegation back to the Championship saw a 0-0 draw with us failing to capitalise on Reading being reduced to 10 men with 20 minutes left.

This match, given the FA Cup exertions of both sides at the weekend, a fourth successive home draw against the Royals could be the likely outcome.

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