MATCH REPORT: 2006/2007 Season

3 February 2007: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: Lita (79 mins, 89 mins).
Manchester City: -
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 38,676

Pos Team P Pts GD
5 Bolton 26 44 +3
6 READING 26 40 +5
7 Portsmouth 26 38 +9
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Bikey, Ingimarsson, Harper, Sidwell, Little (Oster 80), Hunt, Lita, Long (Kitson 75). Subs Not Used: Federici, De la Cruz, Duberry.
Manchester City: Weaver (Isaksson 35), Richards, Dunne, Distin, Trabelsi, Beasley, Dabo (Hamann 48), Barton, Ireland, Samaras (Sturridge 74), Vassell. Subs Not Used: Jihai, Corradi.
Reading: -
Manchester City: -
Ref: H Webb (S Yorkshire).
Reading's insanely amazing season just gets better and better. With 26 games played Reading have already hit the magic 40 point mark - adding three points today with another impressive away victory at Manchester City. It's time to forget relegation and concentrate on finishing as high as possible in the table - and perhaps field a full strength side for the next round of the FA Cup? Whatever happens for the rest of the season it has been a massive success but you can't help feeling the season has plenty more pleasant suprises to offer for Reading fans. Leroy Lita's season has come to life - with the two goals he hit to seal the win today he made it nine goals in nine games. That's simply a phenomenal hit rate. As usual it's all about the team performance, and this Reading team has now clocked up six wins from seven games in 2007. We're unbeaten all year and have won four in a row. Aston Villa will not be looking forward to visiting the Madejski Stadium next Saturday. The guaranteed sell-out home crowd will certainly be looking forward to it.

After Reading's biggest ever dip into the transfer market during the week with millions of pounds leaving the club kitty it was perhaps a little suprising that none of the new players featured. Duberry made the bench but didn't manage his debut and there was no sign of Halford and Bennett as the genius of Steve Coppell quite rightly stuck to his side that defeated Wigan during the week. Why change a winning formula?

There were chances for both sides during the game but after keeping City out, and frustrated, Lita wrapped up a late win for Reading with two goals in the last eleven minutes. The first came as City came forward pushing for a goal themselves. Shorey started off a quick move up field as Reading counter attacked, Sidwell ran forward before feeding Lita who drove his low shot into the corner of the net. The game was won for Reading but any doubt was ruled out in the last couple of minutes when Harper set up Leroy to finish in similar fashion to make it 2-0.

The Royals might have moved ahead earlier in the game after a mix up in the City area saw Lita nearly take advantage. The home side were forced to replace their goalkeeper through injury as the game looked to swing in Reading's favour. Reading looked to have taken the lead when Ingimarsson crossed and Hunt did well to head towards goal before Lita put it over the line. However, the goal was harshly ruled out with the ball judged to have gone out of play. Marcus Hahnemann made some vital saves in each half as City squandered chances to take the lead. It was City that started to look more likely after the break but they put the ball over the bar from close range and shot straight at Hahnemann. Despite City's possession and chances, Reading held firm before a strong finish to take the three points.

The wonderful dream that started over 18 months ago shows no sign of ending as Reading reached the uncharted water of 6th in the Premiership following a fully deserved victory against a goalshy Man City at the Eastlands stadium.

In what was a lacklustre opening first half, reading looked to aiming to reintroduce a bit of defensive steel to compliment the free scoring run that has bought 26 goals in the last 9 matches. And they were largely successful. Bikey looked a different player to the hesitant head rush that categorised his performance against Wigan. Ivar also looked much more comfortable.

A dour first half hour sprung into life when Hunt whipped the ball back on the goal line for Lita to finish with aplomb. Unfortunately the assistant referee judged that Hunt had been unable to prevent the ball going over the by-line although the replays showed that this wasn't the case. City had a few half chances and looked organised and competent until they were in the final third of the pitch. In the first half Barton went closest with a shot that Hahnemann mishandled but quickly redeemed himself by saving from point blank range when it seemed certain that Barton would score.

Reading started to push forward in the opening 15 minutes of the second half with Hunt and Littles constant probing causing problems. lita looked sharp although long looked a little off the pace perhaps struggling with the Thigh problem that he has nursed through recent game. Confusion on the Man City defence saw a deflected Sidwell shot come off the post, however as the half progressed, Man City seemed to get more possession and looked threatening - until the ball was in our penalty box where all attack were dealt with a minimum of fuss.

The first goal, came from nowhere - but it was a cracker. Shorey (surely McClaren was mistaken in omitting him from the squad based on this performance) dispossessed a Man City player and played the ball to Sidwell who looking up played a perfectly wieghted ball to Lita. who without breaking his stride swept a lovely left footed shot in the net. The Man City bubble well and truly burst after that with fans heading for the exit and heads going down. Only one team was going to score now and sure enough a Kitson tackle on the half way line saw the ball break to Harper who pushed the ball through to Lita, who steadied himself slightly before producing another clinical finish. Cue mayhem from the 2,500 travelling fans.

The final whistle bought an almost deserted home end - in fact Man City fans did not cover themselves in glory throughout the match. For the royals it was 3 points to savour with the added bonus of a clean sheet - our first away from home since the Watford game. With a another double completed over a supposedly well matched side we reach 40 points with plenty of games remaining. With Lita bang in form, Doyle waiting in the wings and a number of typically shrewd transfer window purchases confirmed, can we possibly continue to live the dream and start dusting down maps of Europe? Given the success of recent games anything less than a top 10 position will be regarded as a disappointment. Finish 6th and there may well be another open top bus ride - now just where is Duckla Prague?
Only one Trevor Morley

A good away performance. Both midfield and defence looked much more solid than they did against Wigan and it was very good to see Bikey looking more comfortable and composed in the back four. Long seems to grow in every game he plays and Lita (along with his fellow strikers) is continuing to prove those smug idiots at the BBC wrong about our strikers not being able to cut it at this level (couldn't believe their latest excuse for analysis Sat evening - a poorly rehearsed pun about Lita's name from that utter waste of a salary Lawrenson and the usual "what a good manager Coppell is" before spending the rest of their time talking about Joey Barton!). Man City are now the 3rd (at least I think so!) team we've done the double over as well. Nice to able to say something like that! COME ON.....
Match of the Day's 'Greatest Fan' (Ahem!)

I wasn't there but liked this quote from one of the national papers [The Times] today ... "Both goals blistering finishes from searing counter-attacks offered further proof that, with the obvious exceptions of Arsenal and Manchester United, Reading are playing probably the best football in the Premiership at the moment, while their utter fearlessness is embodied by the rampaging Lita". Happy Days.
Crowthorne Seb

Regards from blue Manchester. Very impressive performance from a well constructed side playing attractive football in a good spirit.
Tom, Manchester

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