Arsenal 1-0 Reading
League Cup Third Round - October 11, 1967
By Bryan Horsnel, Reading-based football historian and writer
Reading return to Highbury, this evening, for the first time since they played the Gunners in a League Cup Third Round tie, 38 years ago.
At that time, Reading were one of the leading teams in the old Division Three, having already had a 3-0 home win over Bristol Rovers and a 3-1 victory against First Division West Bromwich Albion at Elm Park, in the opening two rounds of the 1967/68 Football League Cup competition.
This was the Berkshire club's first-ever visit to Highbury and the prospect of playing against the mighty Arsenal really captured the imagination of the Reading players and fans alike.
Most local Reading factories, firms and businesses decided to make it a night to remember and they booked-up a fleet of coaches to make the short trip up to North London.
It was evident, to me, that hundreds of coaches and cars would all be heading in the same direction, to North London, during the evening rush hour, so I decided to 'let the train take the strain' and travelled up by rail from Reading to Highbury via Paddington and the Underground.
When I took-up my seat in the West Stand (Price 20/(£1), in those days) just before the kick-off, the stands and terraces, allocated to the Reading fans, were almost empty. I wondered what had happened to the 10,000 Reading fans that were expected to make the trip!
Included in the Reading team that night was Colin Meldrum, who older Gunners fans may remember had been with Arsenal earlier in his career. Also in the Royals line-up, was Denis Allen, brother of Les (ex-Chelsea and Spurs), uncle to the other 'Allens' Bradley, Clive (a former 'short term' Gunner) and Paul and father of Martin Allen, the former QPR and West Ham midfielder, who now manages Brentford.
Reading threw everything forward to unsettle the Gunners, right from the kick-off, and soon a long shot from teenage centre-forward Peter Silvester skidded just past the goalpost. Frank McLintock kept his head to steady the defence, during this opening onslaught, to enable the Gunners to get back into the game, in the pouring rain.
After 19 minutes, a corner from Jon Sammels was only partially cleared by the Reading defence and Peter Simpson drove the ball through a crowd of players, into the Reading net, to give the Gunners a 1-0 lead.
But this didn't deter Reading and, in the 30th minute, the lively Silvester's header beat Jim Furnell in the Arsenal goal, hit the post and was cleared off the line by Peter Storey. In the remaining 15 minutes of the first-half, Reading gave as good as they got and it was noticeable that the stands and terraces, allocated to the Reading fans, were filling up, too!
At half-time, I spoke to many of the Reading fans who had arrived during the game and they told me the roads from Reading to North London had been gridlocked and thousands of them missed most, if not all, of the first-half and some didn't even reach Highbury until well into the second-half. They had abandoned their coaches and made their way to the game by foot and had no idea where they would pick-up their coaches for the return journey!
Early in the second-half, Reading's Silvester was injured and replaced by Rodney Thornhill, but Arsenal had a bit of a scare, after 60 minutes, when George Harris 'scored' from an Alan Scarrott corner, only for the goal to be disallowed for a foul on Furnell.
The wet and heavy conditions suited the visitors better and, after 75 minutes, Reading full-back Ron Bayliss unleashed a 20-yard piledriver which crashed against the Arsenal crossbar and rebounded onto the roof of the stand.
But this was to be Reading's final effort, as the Gunners superior skill and fitness began to tell and Simpson hit the foot of the Reading goalpost, again, just before the final whistle.
However, the Gunners still won the tie 1-0 and went on to reach the 1968 League Cup Final, losing 1-0 to Leeds United, at Wembley.
Furnell, Storey, McNab, McLintock, Neill, Ure, Radford, Simpson, Graham, Sammels, Armstrong.
Wilkie, Bayliss, Spiers, Meldrum, Chapman, Yard, Foster, Scarrott, Allen, Silvester (Thornhill), Harris.
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