Match Report: 2010/2011 Season

5 March 2011: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Robson-Kanu (14 mins), Harte (35 mins, 48 mins), Long (53 mins, 68 mins).
Middlesbrough: Lita (29 mins, 72 mins pen).
Half Time: 2-1.

Attendance: 18,568

Pos Team P Pts GD
9 Leicester 35 52 -1
10 READING 35 51 +15
11 Portsmouth 35 50 +2
Reading: A. McCarthy, M. Mills, I. Harte, Z. Khizanishvili, M. Leigertwood, J. Tabb, J. Kebe (M. Antonio, 82), H. Robson-Kanu, B. Gunnarsson, N. Hunt (M. Manset, 86), S. Long (S. Church, 69). Subs not used: M. Andersen, J. Karacan, B. Howard, S. Morrison.
Middlesbrough: J. Steele (C. Ripley, 40), T. McMahon, M. Emnes, J. Grounds, J. Bennett, B. Robson (R. Williams, 60), A. Taylor, N. Bailey, M. Zemmama (K. Boyd, 46), L. Lita, S. Hines. Subs not used: T. Kink, M. Haas, A. Halliday, R. Smallwood.
Reading: Leigertwood.
Middlesbrough: Bailey.
Ref: Neil Swarbrick
Buoyed with the confidence gained from the superb away win against Everton in the Cup, Reading romped to a five goal win against a very poor Boro side in spite of absence of key players. Robson-Kanu replaced the injured McAnuff and sent the Royals on their way with a downward header, from a Kebe cross, which bounced over Steele. With Gunarsson and Khizanishvili replacing Griffin and Ingimarsson, the Royals back four was still short on pace, but certainly not on footballing ability and confidence. Khizanishvili was not entirely convincing in the air but his touch and passing was Premiership class throughout and had much to do with the way the Royals dominated possession and maintained their attacking momentum. Reading almost added a second when Long floated a delightful ball in to Hunt whose volley was brilliantly tipped round by Steele. Leroy Lita had been given a deserved welcome by the home crowd and repaid them typically with the Boro equaliser on twenty eight minutes knocking in the rebound after McCarthy had saved well from Taylor. It took Reading six minutes to restore the lead. Bailey scythed Long down as he spun past him into the box and was lucky to receive a yellow card instead of a red considering Liegertwood had only just been booked for a relatively minor offence. Justice was administered by Harte who curled the resulting free kick over the wall and inside the near post. Boro 'keeper Steele had to be replaced picking up an injury five minutes before half time.

Reading killed the game off quickly after the interval with a couple goals in the opening seven minutes. Harte repeated his trick curling in another free kick, although this time it was more of a cross than a shot which drifted through a crowd of players past an unsighted substitute 'keeper Ripley. The fourth and crucial goal came when Hunt, now back to his best, put Long through with an excellent pass. Long's touch was bit heavy but Ripley was slow to come out and Long, never one to shirk a challenge did not need any further encouragement to poke in his sixteenth league goal of the season. Number seventeen arrived soon after. Harte swept in a deep cross and Long made in look easy as he headed past Ripley for the Royals fifth goal. Having taken a heavy knock in the first half Brian McDermott decided not to risk any further damage to his main striker especially with another game only a couple of days away and replaced him with Church. Lita maintained his personal battle with the Royals back four and won a penalty which he converted himself but it had little bearing on the outcome of the game. Kebe is now such an established favourite with the fans that he had a pretty poor game today, including making a hash of a one on one with Ripley, but still received generous applause when replaced by Antonio. With Manset on for Hunt Reading finished the game with a very raw looking attack. In the last ten minutes, not that it mattered, the attack lost its way. There was no width and Church seemed incapable of picking out a pass or timing a run. He did have a good chance to make it six but blasted his shot at Ripley. Manset looked the best of the substitutes.

Next week the Cup adventure continues, but as long as there is still an outside chance, the play-off push will still be very much on the minds of the players, and there was no sign of slacking off today.
John Wells

It was a strange game and I really didn't think we played particularly well or controlled midfield, but we created a lot of chances and could have scored more. Harte's two free kicks were fantastic, Long's first was a sitter from a cracking cross, his second looked like he'd over hit his first touch but just got there before the keeper. HRK looked second favourite to get his head on the cross but somehow managed to (probably fouling). It's a shame that Hunt couldn't score, he had two great chances that brought fine saves. Similarly with Kebe, another one on one he rounds the keeper and slots it wide. Shit ref, didn't seem to give us anything and was desperate to give them the pen for Lita diving into Mills. I'm just glad he didn't affect the result. Everyone had pretty decent games except Church who was typically either offside or fluffing chances.

Boro were comprehensively outplayed. It could easily have been 9. Leighterwood did not stand out today, but that was because everybody else was on their game, not him having a bad one. HRK had his most productive game in a Reading shirt. Harte and Mills were imperious, and the calm assurance of Zurab, when he's on the ball, is reminiscent of a Wdowczyk. It was also great to see Brynjar rolling back the years with an assured performance, but also seeing him steaming through the middle in support of an attack in the second half warmed the old cockles... I feel for Church. The goals must look the size of matchboxes to him at the moment. I think that Brian persevering with him could end up in doing more harm than good for his career. He should go out on loan at somewhere like Brentford to build his confidence back up.
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Ian Harte and Shane Long both scored twice as Reading beat Middlesbrough. Hal Robson-Kanu converted Jimmy Kebe's cross and before Leroy Lita equalised from close range. Harte scored his first from a free-kick, netted his second from another dead ball situation before he set up Long to tap in. Long all but sealed victory after bursting through on goal and sliding home before Lita scored from the spot after he was fouled by Matt Mills. Jason Steele kept the score down when he somehow managed to tip Noel Hunt's close-range volley round the post. Kebe could have scored but he fired wide after rounding keeper Steele. Victory moves the FA Cup quarter-finalists to 10th and they are now unbeaten in the league to six matches. Boro remain only three points above the drop-zone.
BBC Sport