MATCH REPORT: 2007/2008 Season

22 September 2007: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: Kitson (29 mins), Harper (90 mins).
Wigan: Bent (50 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 21,379

Pos Team P Pts GD
14 Aston Villa 5 1 +7
15 READING 7 7 -6
16 Portsmouth 6 6 -1
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Duberry, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Rosenior (Convey 63), Gunnarsson, Harper, Hunt, Kitson, Doyle (Bikey 90). Subs Not Used: Federici, Fae, Long.
Wigan: Kirkland, Melchiot, Bramble, Granqvist, Kilbane, Koumas, Brown, Skoko, Scharner, Bent, Sibierski (Aghahowa 79). Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Boyce, Olembe, Cotterill.
Reading: Ingimarsson, Rosenior, Hahnemann.
Wigan: Brown, Bramble.
Ref: Keith Stroud (Hampshire).
Reading picked up a vital second win of the second - but perhaps were slightly fortunate to do so with a last minute strike from Harper that sealed the points. It was an up and down afternoon from the Royals, who mixed some excellent football with periods where they simply looked lost. Reading dominated the first half and should have gone in more than a goal up, but Wigan had the better of the second half and perhaps should have been ahead before Reading stole the win at the death. Before kick-off one of the main talking points was the absense of Leroy Lita from the team - it later turned out he had simply been dropped. The front pairing of Doyle and Kitson was reasonably successful but that was mostly down to Kitson who had an excellent game, scoring in the first half and setting up Harper's late goal. Elsewhere in the side Rosenior had a reasonable home debut.

Perhaps one of the clearest chances of the first half fell to Rosenior who burst through the middle and looked set to score before hitting his shot too near the keeper when he might have placed it better. It was a good save but really a wasted opportunity. Doyle looked slightly off the pace up front, having one shot-cross failing to find the target and narrowly failing to find a player either. Another chance fell to Duberry and he should have also scored but somehow managed to direct his header in the wrong direction and put it wide. It was Doyle's shot that saw Reading take the lead. The goalkeeper really should have held it but split it into the path of Kitson who made no mistake with his close range finish.

Reading had hardly finished celebrating when Wigan were down the other end and looked to have won a penalty when Ingimarsson left his leg out-stretched. The referee pointed to the spot but the linesman continued to flag it was outside the area. After much debating Wigan were denied the penalty much to the joy of the home support. However, the resulting free-kick from the edge of the area hammered against the Reading crossbar with Hahnemann beaten. After a confident start, when they should have already wrapped the game up, Reading were suddenly hanging on.

After the break, Wigan were clearly on top, and it was no suprise when they pulled level five minutes into the half. A corner from the right found Bent who gave Hahnemann little chance to make the save with a powerful finish. Perhaps Wigan should have finished Reading off at that point but they seemed content with pulling level and the game entered a scrappy phase, with the ball bouncing all over the place. We felt the game was going to limp to a 1-1 draw but the injection of Bobby Convey had a positive impact for the Royals. Convey was immediately released down the right and fired in an excellent cross. He continued to find space and continually looked capable of creating something. One impressive run resulted in a disappointing end shot.

Down the other end Wigan were looking more likely. Duberry looked beaten at one point with Wigan having a clear run on goal, until he suddenly caught up and delivered a perfectly timed tackle inside the area to clear the danger. There was a second possibility of a penalty, or at least a free-kick on the edge of the area, when Wigan again broke free and Hahnemann came racing out of his goal. He seemed to make contact with the player, but he staggered on and nothing was given as Reading raced back to successfully defend. With time running out it was clear either side was capable of grabbing a late win - but thankfully that side was Reading when an excellent move saw Kitson play an intelligent through ball to Harper. The Madejski Stadium errupted for the highlight of the season so far. There was still time for some nervousness as Wigan forced a couple of corners late in injury time. However, Reading hung on to climb out of the relegation positions and up to fifteenth in the table.

With time running out, a perfectly weighted and timed pass from Dave Kitson sliced the Wigan defence apart allowing James Harper run through and beat Kirkland for a glorious winner. The quality of the pass and the timing of the run were worthy of three points. Wigan had their fair share of possession and chances but Reading received their just reward fro showing greater ambition.

Talk of relegation following a poor run appeared to galvanise fans and players alike from the start today. The home crowd was in good voice from the start and the players uncharacteristically conceded a rash of free kicks in the in the opening minutes in their eagerness to stamp their authority on the game. Ingimarsson was obviously still mindful of the way Kenwyn Jones turned him so easily last week and was eager to make amends. Wigan settled into the game quickly and passed the ball well. Ten minutes into the game Doyle skipped past his man and raced goalwards but was caught in two minds and in the end produced neither an accurate shot, or a decent cross. Gradually Reading began to mount pressure on the Wigan defence and should have taken the lead on sixteen minutes when Rosenior ran onto loose ball, and although Kirkland made a magnificent save, he should have given him no chance from such a good position. Kitson and Doyle were working hard and Harper was always looking to press forward. The pressure eventually resulted in much needed goal. Doyle turned in the box and Kirkland fumbled the ball. It had barely left his grasp when Kitson pounced to steer it into the net, a fine piece of sharp finishing by a man rapidly returning to his best form.

Reading almost surrendered their lead immediately. Koumas ran at the Reading defence and was finally halted by a foul on the edge of the area. The referee gave a penalty and then was persuaded to reconsider his decision and after consulting his assistant gave a free kick instead. Koumas struck the kick well and the home crowd was relieved to see it hit the bar and bounce away.

The Wigan equaliser was not too long in arriving. Two minutes into the second half Bent powered home a Koumas corner at the near post. It was sort goal that an organised defence should not concede. Reading were then stung into action but the quality of their play left a lot to be desired. Midway through the half Rosenior went down and almost immediately demanded to be taken off, which was a pretty good idea anyway as he had made little impact on the game. His replacement, Convey, on the other hand made a considerable difference with some direct running and some excellent crosses. Hunt got on the end of one of them and headed just wide, another flashed across the face of the goal needing only a touch to put it over the line and Duberry miscued with his head when it looked easier to score. There were also chance at the other end as Wigan took full advantage of Reading's commitment to attack. Near the end Duberry made an outstanding last ditch tackle to deny Bent a very good chance and Aghahowa was clean through and was clipped by Hahnemann as he went past him but the Wigan forward, showing incredible honesty and sportsmanship, stayed on his feet. Sadly for Wigan he lost a great chance to take the lead in the process. Almost immediately Reading rubbed salt into the wound with a superb winning goal. In desperate scramble in added time Hahnemann and Bramble managed to get themselves booked for wrestling and jostling behind the goal after Reading had conceded a corner. The final whistle brought joy and relief to the home team and their fans. It is uncomfortable in the bottom three at any stage of the season!
John Wells

Phew! Much needed, probably a bit lucky but we deserve a break. Not sure what happened to allow a free Wigan header which got them back in the game. We need to keep it tight and make the opposition earn a goal but for Bent it was a gift.
Invention in attack is required and I've long felt that Harper can do his best work in the final third, he's good on the ball, very tricky and can beat a man. The winning goal was excellent as was Kitson all game. How about Harper in the hole in amongst Doyle and Kitson with Hunt and Convey breaking from deep wide. Gunnarson was good in patches but not sure we've got the right midfield combination as yet.
Still points were what counted, didn't matter how, an exciting end to the game in which Wigan will feel hard done by. Was it just me or did anyone else have a thought to the past and an end to a game involving Wigan and Mr. Forster - how far we've come!
Nick Tilehurst.

It was a match that could have gone either way but in the end we just got over the line thanks to the clever thinking of Kitson and the energy of Harper. This season is beginning to ask questions of players who were ever reliable last year. The Icelanders are not delivering and I think that the captain needs to raise his game. Our success last year was based on all playing at near to their best and on the evidence of the games so far some need to raise their levels. I thought Kitson was good today and Duberry was the pick of the defence. The first half showed glimpses of the football that we played last year and had we taken all of our chances we would have been spared the emotional turmoil of the second half when Wigan should have scored more than one. That they didn't enabled us to secure a very welcome win. P.S. When is Convey going to start a game?
Ken C

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James Harper scored a stunning late winner as Reading secured a much-needed victory over Wigan... The result, which lifts Reading out of the bottom three, was harsh on the visitors given their response to going behind - although Steve Coppell's side could have been four up by the time they took the lead.
BBC Sport

Reading's chances of avoiding the dreaded "second-season syndrome" will turn on results like this Ė a fortunate victory scrambled in the final minute. And their manager, Steve Coppell, having seen his side's season slump with three successive defeats, was happy to settle for it. Until the midfielder James Harper turned in Dave Kitson's pass with only 50 seconds left on the clock, it looked as if the home side would be settling for a point which they might well have lost in the final five minutes as Wigan created two clear scoring opportunities.
Mike Rowbottom, The Independent

Marcus Bentís first Wigan goal five minutes into the second period had cancelled out Dave Kitsonís first-half opener. But the Reading striker had the last word by setting up his team-mate for the winner with the best pass of the day. ... Wigan manager Chris Hutchings was convinced his side should have wrapped the game up well before Harperís goal. Goal hero Bent could have had second but was tackled in the box, while sub Julius Aghahowa appeared to be impeded by Marcus Hahnemann in another attack.
The Sun