MATCH REPORT: 2006/2007 Season

23 August 2006: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: Doyle (4 mins).
Aston Villa: Angel (34 mins, pen), Barry (61 mins).
Half Time: 1-1
Attendance: 37,329

Pos Team P Pts GD
9 Middlesbrough 2 3 +0
10 READING 2 3 +0
11 Tottenham 2 3 +0
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Ki-Hyeon, Harper, Sidwell, Convey (Hunt 65), Doyle (Long 81), Lita (Gunnarsson 36). Subs Not Used: Stack, Oster.
Aston Villa: Sorensen, Hughes, Mellberg, Ridgewell, Samuel (Whittingham 59), Moore, Davis, McCann, Barry, Agbonlahor, Angel. Subs Not Used: Taylor, Laursen, Hendrie, Djemba-Djemba.
Reading: Ingimarsson. Sent Off: Sonko (33 mins).
Aston Villa: McCann, Samuel.
Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).

Reading may have had a slice of luck against Middlesbrough on Saturday when a possible equaliser was ruled out for off-side. Although we were by far the better side and deserved our first Premiership win we could have ended up with just the point. Tonight the luck turned against us as Sonko was very harshly given his marching orders with just half an hour on the clock, leaving the Royals to play most of the game with ten men. Without that sending off, and the resulting penalty kick that allowed Villa back into the game, it might have been a different result tonight. After Saturday's dream start in the Premier League we got off to another dream start against Villa - taking the lead after just four minutes. With the team unchanged except for the injured Kitson being replaced by Leroy Lita up front, the Royals were straight down to business. The early lead followed a positive start from the Royals. Soel Ki-Hyeon was superb on Saturday and set up Reading's goal with style, twisting past his man on the right win to deliver a perfect cross into the box. Doyle managed to find the space for a straight forward headed finish to make it 1-0.

Reading could have extended their lead with a decent Sidwell effort going just wide of the far post before events took a turn for the worse. Villa's Moore broke through with Sonko with him and both players ended up on the floor in the Reading box with Sonko judged to have made contact as the player went through. If there was contact it was very marginal and certainly not deliberate. The referee stuck to the rule book, sent Sonko off and Angel cooly dispatched the penalty to make it 1-1. Coppell had no choice but to go for damage limitation and try and take at least a point and replaced Lita with Gunnarsson who moved straight into the centre of defence alongside Ingimarsson.

It was always going to be a tall order but Reading looked like they might well be able to keep Villa out and nearly retook the lead themselves through a Seol effort in the second half. However, Villa would always be firm favourites at home playing against ten man Reading and the goal eventually came - with a header when the ball was crossed in just after the hour mark. In Reading style, heads never dropped and Reading stayed on the hunt for an equaliser throwing on Hunt and Long but it wasn't to be. So Reading recorded their first ever Premiership defeat - but there was certainly no shame. Villa drew with Arsenal on Saturday, while Reading defeated Middlesbrough who beat Chelsea tonight. There are already plenty of positve signs to suggest we do plenty more than simply avoid relegation this season.


Gutsy performance with plenty of positives which, apparently, even got us a favourable mention on Match Of The Day. Thought the sending-off was harsh (as did the various Villa fans I spoke to after the game) and that a point wouldn't have been unfair. Nothing to choose between the sides at the end of the day, except for the two extra players they had. Team attitude exemplary throughout; am very proud to be associated with this club.
Kris, Muswell Hill

A bloody nightmare. Parked miles from the ground and got in just in time for the half time pies due to traffic passing many Royals fans and a few Villa ones also racing to ground. Sat in Villa end with my Villa mate. Shouting "come on Villa" everytime Reading attacked was a tricky ploy... So missed Doyle's opener, sending off, penalty and watched us struggle manfully in the 2nd half. Thought we looked more than capable even though our squad does look small for this league. Hope Sonko gets his sending off reversed. MOTD - Lineker reckons we'll do okay, Hansen said some nice things but "Lawro" still reckons we're going down. So like many others 45 mins for 30 odd quid and got soaked walking back to the car. Great start to Premiership season. Keep up the workrate guys. Come on you R's........
Will Hasler

There is little doubt that we would have won the match with Villa had not Sonko been sent off, perhaps more care should be taken when challenging a player in this situation Sonko. Against Middlesbrough his indecision in the second half in front of goal almost cost another goal. It appears to me that this player is suffering from acute nerves, perhaps he will now have time to reflect and think more about his game and the consequences of indicision, these mistakes you may get away with in the Championship but not in the Premiership. I expect that he is not the most popular player in the squad at the moment!
Bryan Flux

Reading were simply magnificent last night against Villa and I and the many thousands who made the long wet journey were very proud of our team. The desperately unfair sending off of Sonko would normally have meant game over with so long to go, but Reading refused to buckle and played with tremendous courage, guile and passion. Yet again Seol had a blinder and looks a fantastic buy, Doyle was awesome and Sidwell again shone. If we continue to play the way we did last night the Premiership holds no fears.
Nick Newbury

Another outstanding performance spoilt only by a penalty decision which we would have expected had it been against us. This was a clear case of the punishment being far greater than the crime as we were always going to be on the back foot after Sonks was sent off. We had started so brightly. None of the nerves of Saturday. The Villa defence went missing and there was Doyle to open his account for the season. The passing was sharp and incisive. Soul looked good again and Murty seems to have come on with his basic control and distribution. Harper and Sidwell carried on where they left off on Saturday and everything looked good till that tackle or slip. It always seemed likely that the pressure would tell but it took a good goal from Barry to win it. I thought that we were unlucky and again it showed what we might achieve if things go our way. Tonight they did not but well done lads. I also thought our fans were terrific in the noise that they generated. I wasn't in that end and they certainly made themselves heard.
Ken C

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