MATCH REPORT: 2006/2007 Season

4 November 2006: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Liverpool: Kuyt (14 mins, 73 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 43,741

Pos Team P Pts GD
10 Wigan 10 14 +2
11 READING 11 13 -7
12 Blackburn 10 12 -3
Reading: Hahnemann, Sodje (Bikey 69), Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Gunnarsson (Ki-Hyeon 80), Sidwell, Harper (Oster 88), Hunt, Little, Doyle. Subs Not Used: Federici, Long.
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Hyypia, Carragher, Riise, Pennant, Gerrard, Alonso, Zenden (Gonzalez 66), Kuyt (Fowler 87), Crouch (Sissoko 74). Subs Not Used: Martin, Agger.
Reading: Sidwell, Sodje.
Liverpool: -
Ref: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).

Once again there was no disgrace in Reading's performance, but the Royals were always a long way from taking any points from Liverpool. This was Reading's fifth straight defeat, a run that's included four league losses, and saw Reading drop out of the top half of the Premiership table for the first time since August. However, we never realisically expected to pick up any points over the recent run of games and this fixture saw the impossible run finally come to an end. We knew we'd arrived in the Premiership when Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal rolled into town for consecutive league home matches. However, this was another one of those moments we all thought we only ever dream about - watching Reading play at Anfield in a league fixture. Parking up near the ground and walking round all the boarded up houses before the game threatened to take the shine off the dream experience. But once inside the dream was restored watching 40,000 Liverpool fans since along to "You'll Never Walk Alone" with scarves aloft and then seeing the Reading team run out onto the pitch, and the away fans generating all the noise for the rest of the ninety minutes. The home fans hardly even celebrated their two goals and watched the game in silence as Liverpool eased to victory against a Reading team that never stopped playing.

With Murty still out missing there was more re-arrangement in defence with Sam Sodje making his second Premiership start and I thought having an excellent game. It was impressive to watch Sodje outjump Crouch on a couple of occassions despite his huge height disadvantage. Sodje's tackling was also impressive and combined with his speed he really does look a bright prospect. Meanwhile, Sonko wasn't having his best game and was struggling with the Liverpool forward line, and was beaten more than once by being turned inside and out. It was a tall order to deal with the Liverpool front line and even our best efforts weren't to be quite enough.

It was Reading that got off to a solid start and the best chance of the opening ten minutes came to the Royals. After winning the first corner of the game we also nearly scored as the ball was crossed from the right and Harper hit a low shot that needed the first real save of the match from Reina. Reading were looking impressive down the right with Gunnarsson and Little combining well to hold possession and Little putting in a couple of dangerous crosses. In fairness we'd probably come to take a point with just Doyle on his own up front, and a packed midfield, but the formation seemed the right thing to do and was looking promising for Reading until the killer blow came within the opening fifteen minutes. Gerrard pumped the ball into the box and Crouch rose high into the air to head the ball back down. I'm not sure what happened to Hahnemann, but the next second the ball was driven into the net to make it 0-1. Our game plan was to not conceed and the early goal meant we were always going to be chasing the game.

Reading stuck at it but Liverpool were superb defensively and we were limited to a couple of corners and some half decent crosses from the right for the rest of the first half. Reina had little to do while Hahnemann needed to make a couple of decent saves to keep Reading in the game. The half time break couldn't have come at a better time with Liverpool starting to control the game and looking very comfortable. Still, 0-1 at half-time wasn't a disaster and Reading started the second half as the better side. Stephen Hunt had a quiet first half with the ball never seeming to reach him on the left, but the second half saw Hunt running at the Liverpool defence and causing some real problems. He charged through past three or four players to cross the ball as Reading threatened to pull level. Sidwell had a weak shot roll past the post and Hunt broke through again but couldn't deliver a real shot. We were working really hard and playing some good passing football coming forward. We did manage to bundle the ball into the back of the net with twenty minutes left on the clock, but the referee had blown up long before the ball was in the net for a foul on the goalkeeper.

Moments later and it really was all over as Liverpool ended Reading's spell of pressure by stringing a few passes together and putting the ball past Hahnemann again for Kuyt's second goal. This time it really was all over. Liverpool had done all they needed to do. Seol came off the bench with ten minutes left and managed to get in a low shot but we still failed to trouble the goalkeeper as we looked for what would have only been a consolation goal. The good news was that, despite the defeat, we certainly competed with Liverpool, weren't entirely outclassed, and we continue to look a side capable of surviving in the Premiership this season.


When the fixture list was published this was probably one of the games which most of us had dreamt about going to, Liverpool away. Well, we did not get tonked as many predicted and were not overawed, but we did lose again. We let in two goals and both were down to schoolboy errors which cost us dear. The normally solid Ingimarsson was transfixed on the spot as Kuyt happily took an easy chance unchallenged and once again Hahnemann failed to hold a simple downward header and again Kuyt snapped the chance up. We all know you cannot make mistakes at this level but to graft the way as we did then to give it away with two stupid mistakes sticks in the throat. This was the last game of an extraordinary run of tough games and now the initiative is on us to pick up points from our homes games coming up. Between now and Christmas we have five home games and three away, eight points would be great more and over twenty points at xmas would see a definite chance of survival. Yesterday the lads worked so hard and they really did deserve point, second half we were on top and an equaliser looked on the cards till Hahnemanns gaff, long term we need a better keeper. We can all see the squad is paper thin, many players are simply not good enough at this level, we know them, Coppell knows them but no point naming them as they are doing their very best and no body can ask any more of them. We must buy in January and buy well, we need two strikers, two midfielders and two defenders, not to replace all players but to give solid cover. Up front we are so weak, poor Doyle gets no support and needs a centre forward who can hold the ball off and lay it off, god help us if Doyle gets injured. If we are at full strength we can beat Spurs and we can beat Charlton, if we get nothing then the dreaded trap door down the relegation zone awaits. I don't think we'll be in that before christmas. If we make new signings we'll be ok, if we don't then the second half of the season is going to be a long hard slog. Finally Anfield, what a let down, heard more noise at Crewe, I simply could not believe how quiet they were, we out sang them the whole game. Spoilt scousers, they simply do not know how lucky they are.
Nick Newbury

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