MATCH REPORT: 2007/2008 Season

18 August 2007: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: Hunt (44 mins)
Everton: -
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 22,813

Pos Team P Pts GD
5 Portsmouth 3 5 +2
6 READING 3 4 0
7 Sunderland 3 4 -2
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty (De la Cruz 35), Ingimarsson, Bikey, Shorey, Ki-Hyeon (Oster 71), Harper, Gunnarsson, Hunt (Convey 79), Doyle, Long. Subs Not Used: Federici, Fae.
Everton: Howard, Hibbert (McFadden 66), Lescott, Stubbs, Nuno Valente, Osman (Jagielka 89), Carsley, Neville, Arteta, Anichebe (Pienaar 57), Johnson. Subs Not Used: Ruddy, Baines.
Reading: Ingimarsson, Long.
Everton: Lescott, McFadden.
Ref: Steve Bennett (Kent).
If there were any lingering doubts about Reading's ability to compete successfully in the Premier League again this season they were completely dispelled this afternoon. With a squad significantly depleted by injury and suspension Reading deservedly won a hard fought victory against one of the teams expected to be in contention for a EUFA Cup spot. Following good performances against the top two teams in the country earlier in the week, the Royals have picked up four points from three very tough games.

Although Everton had a more than a fair share of possession they were unable to penetrate the Reading defence and I don't recall Hahnemann having to make a save in the first half. Johnson missed decent chance when his shot was deflected over from a corner after eleven minutes. Reading looked more likely to find a way through with Hunt popping up all over the field unsettling the visitor's defence. Doyle made room for a shot from outside the box, but it was comfortably saved by Howard. Strong appeals for a penalty from the Reading players were ignored by referee Bennett. Long was giving the Everton back four a difficult afternoon with his power and pace. He was also linking up well with supporting players with some deft and inventive touches. If Seol was brought in provide more of a cutting edge it did not work. He seems to have lost the ability to go past players and was constantly forced inside making his crosses easier for the defence to deal with. Murty was injured and replaced by De La Cruz after thirty-five minutes, the game was developing into a stalemate until one minute from half time Hunt nipped in front of his man and finished with two very good touches from close range. The goal typified his performance. He has always played with a great deal of energy and enthusiasm but recently the quality of his play has taken him to a higher level.

So for the second time this week Reading went in at half time a with a goal advantage. Today however the opposition was not of the same quality and Reading had learned their lesson and were on the front foot from the restart with Doyle finding himself with a sight of goal. Unfortunately he could not keep the ball down and it cleared the bar comfortably. For most of the half neither side could gain control in midfield, although Reading were looking quicker to the ball and frequently dispossessed hesitant Everton players. For a long spell Everton could not get out of their own half. With about twenty minutes left Everton decided to increases their attacking options by sending on MacFadden. Seol went off injured as did Hunt and at for a few minutes Reading were down to ten men as Oster went off for treatment. The tempo of the game picked up Shorey hit a great volley from as free kick which was probably going just wide before it was blocked. MaFadden was justly booked for a pathetic and blatant dive. Andy Johnson did his utmost to get behind Reading's defence but everywhere he went so did Bikey - and did he not like that! The impressive Reading defender simply shrugged him off like an irritating insect whenever he came near him. It was a joy to watch.

Everton's big chance came with about six minutes remaining when MacFadden chipped a delightful effort onto the bar. It dropped to Johnson via De La Cruz's hand and he was unable to force the ball home with his first shot and then hit the rebound against the post. A fine first win for Reading leaving Coppell with a real challenge of putting together a team for the next match with such a long list of injured players. One thing is certain - you will not hear him complaining about it. He will just get on with the job and nobody would be surprised at three points again next week.

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