MATCH REPORT: 2006/2007 Season

1 October 2006: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: Ki-Hyeon (2 mins).
West Ham Utd: -
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 34,872

Pos Team P Pts GD
6 A Villa 7 13 +5
7 READING 7 13 +2
8 Arsenal 6 11 +4
Reading: Hahnemann, De la Cruz, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Ki-Hyeon (Hunt 79), Harper, Sidwell, Convey (Gunnarsson 77), Lita (Long 67), Doyle. Subs Not Used: Stack, Bikey.
West Ham Utd: Carroll, Spector, Dailly, Gabbidon, Konchesky, Benayoun, Mullins, Reo-Coker (Harewood 85), Etherington, Cole (Zamora 72), Tevez (Sheringham 71). Subs Not Used: Green, Mascherano.
Reading: Ki-Hyeon, Long.
West Ham Utd: Cole, Carroll, Konchesky, Sheringham.
Ref: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).

This was a classic away performance from Reading. An top drawer early goal to set us on the way, followed by a first class defensive performance to earn three points over Alan Pardew's West Ham United. Perhaps the two key moments of the game were in the opening two minutes when Seol Ki-Hyeon put Reading ahead and in stoppage time at the end of the second half when Sidwell's defensive header prevented a late equaliser. Although the home side enjoyed most of the possession and had nearly all the shots, both on and off target, Reading looked comfortable in defending their way to another impressive Premiership victory.

Just before kick-off the rain turned torrential, but it didn't dampen the sprits of the travelling Royals who filled the away end - and stood for the entire match to support a side already riding high in the Premiership table. The conditions led to a lively opening to the game with the ball and players skidding around the surface. Within the opening minute Reading won a free-kick mid-way inside the West Ham half which Convey played short to Seol. Seol seemed to be given plenty of space and he twisted and turned past two players before unleashing a powerful effort from way outside the area that flew across the keeper and into the back of the net. 1-0 to the Royals. The game immediately opened up with both sides venturing forward looking for goals in a lively start. After a bright period from Reading, West Ham started to enjoy most of the ball and the emphasis was very much on our defensive qualities with Seol and Sidwell both coming back to slide in with perfect tackles. Once again Sonko and Ingimarsson were perfect. Their positioning and precisely timed tackles shut the door everytime, and with the midfield tracking back when needed it was like trying to break into Fort Knox for the Hammers.

The half time break saw more rain pour down on an already saturated pitch and we started to remember that game against Leicester that was called off. Thankfully the rain eased off at the start of the half as Reading continued their defensive operation. It was the same forumla that had denied Manchester United last week. The home side were restricted to long range efforts - Tevez especially struggled to make an impact with a whole string of poor efforts that flew wide of the target. Tevez was taunted with chants of "fat Maradonna" but failed to respond and was poor throughout before both him and his ineffective strike partner Cole were replaced as Pardew looked to turn the game around. The frustration was clear as Carroll came charging out of his area to bundle Long off the pitch in order to get the game moving - he was lucky to escape with a booking.

Things opened up for West Ham when De la Cruz went on a suicidal run into the middle of the pitch in the Reading half and lost the ball when he should have hoofed it clear. The ball was played wide into the space where De la Cruz should have been allowing a rare opportunity in the Reading half. The resulting cross from the left was nearly slid home but thankfully there was no contact as Reading held their lead. Hahnemann was called on to make a number of decent saves, but in reality they were easy saves for the American as he was rarely troubled. Gunnarsson and Hunt came on to help hold the lead but Reading seldom looked like letting it slip. Gunnarsson sloted in a treat with De la Cruz down the right, who suddenly looked a better player. After a difficult first half and a near fatal mistake he finished the game on form, making a number of great tackles as West Ham were pushed back.

In the dying minutes West Ham at last found some pressure with a couple of corners that saw goalkeeper Carroll come forward to add to the massive number of bodies already in the area. As the ball came free Reading looked set to add a second goal before a cynical challenge on the half way line with the West Ham goal empty. Moments later and it would probably have been either red card or a good opportunity to run through with an open goal. Right at the end the home side nearly found a point when the ball was chipped over the defence and Hahnemann and looked to be heading into the net before Sidwell appeared to head the ball over his own crossbar for the corner. In all honesty, West Ham's inability to break Reading down costed them a share of the points and it was a good job done by the Royals who remain just three points from the top of the Premiership table.


It's hard to remember the last time I got so wet, left a match so hoarse, or had such sore knees: when you're not used to standing for a game it can really take it out of you! A real gritty performance, one or two near-suicidal moments (the defence seeming to forget how easily a good Premiership player will nick the ball off your toe), but a triumph of team spirit and collective self-belief over primadonnas (both fat and thin) and poor cohesion. This season just gets more exciting as each day passes with the dawning realisation of what this team has the potential to achieve. Realistically we're not going to finish seventh. We could even lose the next 31 games and 'do a Sunderland'. Something tells me that's not quite going to happen, however! URZ...
Kris, Muswell Hill

Getting this good away win and the one at Sheffield the other week has made the Man Utd result into even more of a valuable point. Reading defended very well in difficult conditions and the goal that won the game was a real stormer from Seol. Of course it was also good to see us finally beat the 'lovely' Mr Pardew on his own patch. HA! This result will keep the player's confidence and spirit high for the visits of the 'big boys' in the next two home games. COME ON!
Caversham Royal

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