MATCH REPORT: 2006/2007 Season

16 December 2006: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: Harper (41 mins).
Blackburn: McCarthy (64 mins), Bentley (84 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 23,074

Pos Team P Pts GD
6 Portsmouth 18 29 +9
7 READING 18 26 -3
8 A Villa 18 25 +3
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Little (Oster 83), Sidwell, Harper, Hunt (Long 88), Doyle, Ki-Hyeon (Lita 75). Subs Not Used: Federici, Gunnarsson.
Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Todd, Ooijer, Gray, Bentley, Kerimoglu, Savage, Pedersen, McEveley (Nonda 46), McCarthy (Derbyshire 90). Subs Not Used: Brown, Matteo, Peter.
Reading: Murty.
Blackburn: McEveley, McCarthy.
Ref: G Poll (Hertfordshire).
Reading have no-one to blame but themselves for this disappointing result. There is no doubt Blackburn deserved their victory but Reading could, and should, have taken at least a point from this game. Having taken the lead shortly before half time with a superbly created goal they succumbed to a resilient second half display from Rovers.

The match opened brightly with both sides passing the ball well. On eight minutes McEveley was booked for a nasty late challenge on Little. A minute later Seol flicked on a long ball for Doyle to chase. His persistence gave him a sight of goal but his shot was high. Not long after Rovers had the ball in the net when Pedrson turned sharply to beat Murty and surprised Hahnemann with a powerful shot from outside the box which the keeper could not hold. Reading fans were relieved to see the flag go up as McCarthy put the rebound into the net. Doyle kept Friedel on his toes with a hard low strike from just outside the area. A minute later Shorey jinked his way around the Rovers defence and set up Harper with a chance which he struck low and hard but straight at Friedel.

Doyle and Seol were winning the ball in the air against a vulnerable Rovers back four. Seol's first touch was outstanding and he was holding the ball up well and laying it off accurately although it has to be said he did look more comfortable in wide positions. Reading were now dominating the play and Ingamarsson shot over when the ball was half cleared from a corner. Sidwell thumped a header against the bar from a Little cross. Reading deservedly took the lead when Harper ran onto a Hunt pass following a slick move down the left and calmly slid the ball past Friedel.

The second half was a very different story. Blackburn came out in a more positive frame of mind and switched to a more attacking four four two formation. Within two minutes they had the ball in the net but again McCarthy was given offside. Almost on the hour McCarthy completed his hat-trick of offside goals but on this occasion was clearly in an offside position. An equaliser looked on the cards as Reading squandered possession repeatedly and appeared to lose their defensive shape. On sixty four minutes the Reading back four froze as Neill curled a cross behind them and McCarthy finally go this reward when he headed firmly past Hahnemann. Minutes later Hahnemann was forced to save a gain but his job was made harder by a Rovers forward standing in front of him in an offside position. Amazingly the flag stayed down. Ingamarsson had a chance to restore the lead but his shot was straight at Friedel. Murty's rash challenge was a clear sign of the Royal's growing anxiety and resulted in a booking.

Oster came on for a weary looking Little. Sadly for Reading his only contribution was to play an awful square ball to Shorey which was easily cut out by Bentley who raced on to beat Hahnemann with a blistering strike. It was a classic early Christmas present! There were times today when Reading looked stretched in midfield. In midfield Hunt and Sidwell conceded possession with poor and wayward passing. Sonko stood out with some composed play and superb tackles. Shorey also looked again to be Premiership class although even he began lose his way near the end. With Man Utd and Chelsea away over Christmas, a point or three against Everton might be needed to stop Reading from sliding into the bottom half of the table. They can and will play better than they did today.
Report by John Wells

Success this season has been achieved very much through a team effort. Today we saw what happens when the team ethic does not work. After a good first half which saw us go into the break deservedly in front, we just did not perform. Yes, Blackburn did better, but there were too many players who had off days. Shorey gave the ball away which is rarae enough throughout his career and this was typical of the team. The main exception was Harper who not only took his goal well, but also maintained his standards. We lost to a super strike from Bentley but again we gave the ball away, this time it was Oster but it was just typical of what we had seen. Just forget the second half and assume we'll be back to normal next Saturday.
Ken C

Just as we all thought this Premiership was a doddle and some were even fantasising about trips to far flung parts of Europe, Blackburn brought us well and truly down to earth with a big bump and a festive reality check. This was a classic game of two halves and Reading must be kicking themselves for not wrapping the game up by half time. Blackburn were very poor at in the first half and though we also were not playing that well most of us thought another three points were coming our way. Mark Hughes must have clearly said some strong words and even thrown a few tea cups during his half time talk as the Blackburn in the second half were unrecognisable from the first half and went on the batter Reading for most of the game . We were very poor in the second half with Shorey, Sidwell, Sepl and even Doyle all well below par. What does stick in the throat was that both Blackburn goals were down to Reading errors. The marking for the first was appalling and the second, though a wonder strike from Bentley, was down to a dreadful first pass from Oster and even Shorey had the chance to make a tackle but got done well and proper and Bentley flew past him and let rip with a goal that was worthy of winning any game. A few other observations Poll as usual was a joke, trying to take the limelight rather than do his job, how in gods name did he not book McCarthy with his disgraceful pathetic cheating dive I'll never know, on the whole his refereeing was a joke. Robbie Savage, what a great player. You will never see another player anywhere who works as hard as he does and really does die for the shirt. Don't the morons who abuse him realise it's water of a ducks back and there nothing he likes more to spur him on. I'd give anything to have Robbie Savage in our team because you know what you are going to get, somebody who gives you 110% week in week out, well played mate. With the black cloud of Chelski and Man U away looming, something against Everton is vital. Every cloud has a silver lining and maybe yesterdays loss will make JM and other realise how important it is we add to the squad in the January window. We've done unbelievably well to get 26 points to date and we will be ok this season but I thought the players looked tired yesterday and that's why we need a bigger squad, but we all know that. Who could ask for a better Christmas present that three points against Everton, oh and Andy Diving Johnson being sent off for continuous cheating dives, promises to be a lively encounter... UURRRZZZ
Nick Newbury

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