MATCH REPORT: 2006/2007 Season

17 March 2007: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: -
Portsmouth: -
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 24,087

Pos Team P Pts GD
6 Tottenham 30 45 -1
7 READING 30 44 +5
8 Everton 29 43 +11
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Duberry, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Little (Oster 84), Harper, Sidwell, Hunt (Halford 90), Lita (Doyle 76), Kitson. Subs Not Used: Federici, Gunnarsson.
Portsmouth: James, Johnson, Campbell, Primus, Stefanovic, O'Neil, Mvuemba, Hughes, Kranjcar (Taylor 90), Mwaruwari, Kanu. Subs Not Used: Ashdown, Traore, Cole, LuaLua.
Reading: Duberry.
Portsmouth: Hughes.
Ref: S Bennett (Kent).
Reading at last returned to league action, after two weeks off, but were unable to add to their league goal tally as Portmouth shared the points at the Madejski Stadium. There was plenty of effort on show from both sides in a game that was at times very entertaining, and at other times rather scrappy. Reading had much the better of the first half and should have gone in ahead at the break, but the visitors had the better of the second half and were unlucky not to score themselves. All things considered the draw was certainly the right result - and after two excellent defensive performances from both sides a goalless draw seemed the most appropriate scoreline at full time.

Reading didn't appear to have been affected by the break and if anything looked desperate for some football as they started the brightest. Right from the off Reading were on the attack forcing three corners in the opening couple of minutes. Portsmouth were struggling to get the ball out of their own half as Reading continually pinned them back. It was looking very promising and Reading looked seemingly set to dominate the game. Glen Little went closest with a header that was just wide of the post. However, despite spending the entire first half winning corner after corner David James in the Portsmouth goal was rarely tested. Portsmouth defended with determination - the centre backs continued to cope with everything we threw at them. Hunt was having plenty of the ball down the left but struggled to get in more than one or two tasty crosses. Portsmouth looked weakest down the right, but we rarely exploited it, and Little was having a very quiet game not helped by Hahnemann's kicks contantly flying out of play down the left side of the pitch. Reading couldn't force a breakthrough and it certainly wasn't for lack of trying. Lita and Kitson were linking up well up front, with both players exchanging passes to create chances. However we were continually denied by some vital last moment tackles. Kitson looked certain to put Reading ahead but found himself robbed of the ball by Campbell as he was surely about to blast it home.

Eventually, Portsmouth started to get into the game and drove a shot just wide of Hahenmann's right post before wasting a free-kick by blasting it into the Reading wall. Back down the other end James dropped a couple of balls in the area as the game became scrappy. Too many passes, from both sides, were failing to find targets and the ball started to spend a bit too much time in the air. Sidwell was having a poor game in midfield as he continually lost possession and Reading were starting to loose their solid grip on the game as half time approached.

After the break, the game swapped around with Portsmouth starting the brightest and winning a series of corners themselves. Thankfully Marcus Hahnemann did well to firmly take a couple of crosses. In Reading's defence Duberry was excellent but man of the match Ingimarsson was even better. Nothing got past Ingimarsson as his vital tackles frustrated Portsmouth in the same way Reading had been in the first half. Reading were looking less and less likely to take the win now and Kitson's biggest involvement was in defending with some solid tackles. Portmouth won a free-kick when Shorey pulled down a player - but bizarrely the yellow card appeared to be shown to Duberry. Even Leroy Lita came back to bolster the defence as every Reading players was in the Royals' area when the ball was played in. Portmouth looked like they'd won it late on when a long range effort smacked against the Reading post with Marcus beaten - but that would have been harsh. It wasn't all one way traffic as Kevin Doyle came off the bench and instantly created a Reading chance at the other end. 2.5M signing Greg Halford at last made his Reading debut but was only given a couple of minutes - and a couple of brief touches - as both sides settled for the draw.

Depleted by injuries to some key players, Portsmouth clearly came with the intention of stifling Reading and hitting them on the break. They came close succeeding in the second half when Hahnemann was forced to make two saves, and Hughes hit the post with a long range effort. It was a day when defenders from both sides were at their best and although Reading were the more positive side throughout, James didn't have a save to make. In the end a draw was a fair result.

Reading started well with Hunt and Shorey testing Pompey's central pairing of Campbell and Primus with some dangerous crosses. Lita got behind the defence but seemed slow to get the ball away from his feet and was unable to produce a strike with any venom. Whenever Portsmouth were in possession they were hounded by a pack of three Reading players which usually included either Hunt, Harper or Sidwell. Reading continued to worry the Pompey back four with some telling crosses but nobody was quite sharp or determined enough to make anything of them. Kitson and Lita linked up well at times, and Shorey and Murty were pushing forward at every opportunity. O'Neil gave Reading a fright when he volleyed narrowly wide from outside the box midway through the half but by half time neither 'keeper had been asked to do little more than deal with back passes and catch crosses.

Portsmouth had more of the game in the second half and as the game opened up, they looked dangerous on the break. Reading were generally quick to recover and snuff out any threat. Kanu was the focal point of most of Portsmouth attacking play, and although he has no pace he held the ball up well and Duberry had to work hard to contain him, picking up a booking in the process. Doyle was given fifteen minutes in place of Lita and it was encouraging to see him skip past two defenders before being brought down. This result did little to enhance the chances of either side qualifying for Europe but I suspect Pompey will feel happier with the point.


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