MATCH REPORT: 2005/2006 Season

Reading: Whelan (og, 38 mins), Kitson (64 mins).
Sheff Wed: -.
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 16,188

Pos Team P Pts GD
1 Sheff Utd 17 41 +22
2 READING 17 38 +19
3 Watford 17 29 +9
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Sidwell, Sonko, Little (Oster 81), Kitson, Harper, Ingimarsson, Convey (Hunt 72), Doyle. Subs Not Used: Stack, Osano, Obinna.
Sheff Wed: Lucas, Hills (Graham 89), Wood, Peacock (O'Brien 81), Brunt, Whelan, Partridge (Eagles 63), Rocastle, Lee, Agbonlahor, Simek. Subs Not Used: Bullen, Heckingbottom.
Reading: -.
Sheff Wed: Peacock.

Referee: M Thorpe (Suffolk).

This result underlined the quality of the Reading squad. Although the team did not perform as well as they did against Leeds on Saturday, there were some excellent individual performances. Wednesday matched Reading for most of the first half through sheer effort and work rate, but it seemed only a matter of time before the superior quality within the Reading line up produced the goals. The visitors for all their industry could not find the composure or guile to breach the Royals superb defence. Sonko was again outstanding.

For most of the first half most of Reading's attacks fizzled out because, Kitson and Doyle, who were not at their sharpest, were quickly surrounded by Wednesday defenders as soon as the ball was played in to them. Little was by far the biggest threat. His touch, and ability to go past players, was causing all kinds of problems for the visitors defence. The turning point in the game came when a Wednesday attack released Partridge on the right. As he bore down on goal Hahnemann came smartly off his line and saved brilliantly before springing up to smother the ball before it bobbled away. His throw instigated a move which culminated in Doyle skipping past his man and whipping in a low cross. With Kitson providing the pressure Whelan deflected the ball past his own 'keeper. Reading took control from that point in spite of Wednesday's spirited response.

The second half was a different story with Reading very much in the ascendancy. Doyle's work rate as usual was phenomenal throughout and he looked to have won a penalty when he was brought down several yards inside the area. Referee Thorpe incredibly gave a free kick outside the area. I can' t recall a more ridiculous decision in many years of watching football. Thankfully it didn't matter in the end. The game wrapped up after sixty-four minutes when Little went on yet another mazy run past three defenders before slipping the ball to Kitson. He had several options but elected to finish from a narrow angle and did so magnificently. Up to that point his performance had been disappointing. His touch was poor, he kept trying little flicks and back heels which invariably surrendered possession, and his work rate was questionable.

Wednesday battled on gamely and even hit the post when a long range shot was deflected over Hahnemann. Peacock was constantly working to keep Wednesday's attacks going, but became understandably frustrated. He was booked late in the game quite unnecessarily by Thorpe for shooting wide after the whistle. What did he have to gain by wasting time when his team were two goals down? Further evidence of the referee's incompetence. Somehow I got the feeling they were not going to score. As time ran out, Wednesday heads went down and Reading toyed with their defence but could not apply the killer touch. I was pleased to see Sidwell get a full game under his belt but on this showing I would be selecting Gunnarsson ahead of him when he is fit again. Harper's contribution again was immense. He worked so hard winning tackles, closing players down and keeping possession.

The unbeaten run must come to an end eventually, but at the moment, apart from the Gunners, I can't see who is going to get the better of us. It has been a long time since we have been able to turn to game and feel really confident of not only winning, but outplaying our opponents. We must make the most of it because it will be much tougher next season in the Premiership!
John Wells

Very much a game of two halves in which Reading demonstrated the combination of grind and attacking power play that has seen them go unbeaten in 19 matches.

Reading started slowly with Sheffield Wednesday, somewhat surprisingly, willing to have a go. In the first 15 -20 minutes Wednesday were quite content to keep hold of the ball. Other than one attack that saw both Doyle and Kitson going close Reading were struggling to get into the game but equally did not look like they were going to concede. The slight lack of fluency was perhaps down to the Sidwell Harper pairing with Gunnarsson unavailable with a groin strain. Reading do not look quite the same team without Gunnarson at the moment and his presence would have perhaps helped to inspire Reading early on.

The match turned in the space of one minute when Sheffield Wednesday, in a rare attack, put Partridge through 1 on 1 with Hahnemann. A superb save saw the ball go to Doyle who sprinted upfield and crossed where Kitson headed the ball onto Whelan and which then went into the goal. Reading went in at the interval a somewhat fortunate 1-0 up

The second half was a very different affair. Right from kick off Reading went up a gear and Sheffield Wednesday grimly hung on as Reading totally dominated. The ability of Reading to play at such a high tempo can sometimes be overwhelming to the opposition and this was the case for Sheffield Wednesday. With Convey (and in particular) Little marauding on the wings it was a question of when the next goal should happen rather than if. One remarkable sequence saw Reading have 5 shots on goals in the space of 10 seconds with Convey hitting a post and two shots being cleared off the line.

Reading then had a clear penalty appeal turned down when the impressive Doyle was hauled down well inside the area only for the referee to point to a free kick just outside the area. Confusion reigned on whether this was for an earlier minor foul but if the ref had waved play on then it shouldnt have been hauled back to where the initial offence took place.

The inevitable goal, when it came, was a good one. Little collected the ball on the half way line, just managed to keep it in play, beat two men and then threaded it though to Kitson who unleashed a powerful shot than went through the keepers legs.

Reading were then content to sit tight (with Sonko playing extremely well) and attack when the opportunities arose. The full time whistle went with Reading having won very convincingly after a slow start.

Readings marvellous run continues to 19 games without loss - If defeat can be avoided against QPR then Reading will enjoy the luxury of the International break sitting on a 20 match unbeaten run and at least a 7 point cushion. Automatic promotion, whilst no certainty is starting to become a realistic proposition for the Royals - a change from previous seasons when 6th place has been the main aim. Long may the run continue.
Only one Trevor Morley


This is it! I finally am starting to believe that this season we are going to make it to the promised land. We have been close before but I have never truly believed that we had a good enough squad before. In 95 we had too small a squad and eventually paid the price in the final whem injuries cost us dear. Two years ago against Wolves, in the play offs, there was always a nagging doubt about how good we were. I never truly thought we woulf go up and last year we got into a good position before Christmas but we were very one dimensional and got caught out when Kitson got injured. This year however things are different. The squad is bigger (although we need cover at centre half) and most places have genuinely good cover. We are playing good football, scoring goals and generally putting the fear of god into the opposition. It's still early but a nine point lead over third place and options that we have mean that we do have a real chance this year. I also think that having Sheff Utd in front of us will help. Traditionally, when we go top we wobble under the pressure. I am more than happy, staying in second, hot on Sheffield's tail and pulling away from the rest of the pack.
Michael Payten

Yet another solid performance and 3 points from Reading. Despite not being quite all there yet, Kitson continues to knock in the goals, Doyle was excellent and Sonko deserves a medal for turning out with his injury and still look as solid as ever. The only concern for me was the enforced reuniting of the Harper/Sidwell partnership in the middle. It's just not convincing and still leaves holes all over the pitch, and I think it's far weaker than when Gunnarson is in there to do the donkey work. I hope Coppell can see this and puts him straight back into the side when he is fit.
Caversham Royal

Reading have been knocking pretty hard on the Premiership door(apart from a couple of seasons)ever since that great play-off final against Bolton in `95. They have now got themselves into the best chance of automatic promotion.Only the players and Steve Coppell can influence anything now.The fans can only sit and hope.Mind you if they get behind the team and scream their heads off the players could walk it to the top flight by winning the Championship outright.
Pete Clarke

I thought Wednesday were the best team bar Palace we've played all season, we rode our luck but little bit of Little class in the end saw us through. Missed Gunny Gunnarsson badly Sidwell clearly not fit yet nor does Kitson seem to be, good goal but otherwise very poor game. We roll on, nine points clear of third is getting very serious now, QPR will be a massive test, if offered a point now I'd chew the arm off. Must mention the ref, another candidate for the absolute complete useless twat hall of fame, swaggering about and have the bottle of a yellowneck fly in not awarding Doyle a penalty when oh so clearly pulled down a yard in the box, justice prevailed. Keep believing.
Nick Newbury

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