MATCH REPORT: 2007/2008 Season

27 October 2007: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: Kitson (53 mins), Long (84 mins).
Newcastle: Duberry (76 mins, own goal)
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 24,119

Pos Team P Pts GD
11 Everton 10 13 0
12 READING 11 13 -9
13 Birmingham 11 11 -4
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty (Rosenior 86), Sonko, Duberry, Shorey, Lita (Long 83), Gunnarsson, Harper, Hunt, Doyle, Kitson. Subs Not Used: Federici, Ingimarsson, Convey.
Newcastle: Given, Beye, Faye (Milner 74), Cacapa, Jose Enrique, Geremi, Barton, Butt (N'Zogbia 58), Emre, Martins (Smith 58), Owen. Subs Not Used: Harper, Rozehnal.
Reading: -.
Newcastle: Faye.
Ref: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire).
There was something very reassuring about this afternoon's performance from the Royals. The win was undoubtedly fully deserved. Having taken the lead with a superb strike from Kitson early in the second half Reading's resilience was tested when Duberry unfortunately deflected a fairly innocuous looking free kick into his own net with only fifteen minutes left to play. Justice was served up by Shane Long who came on to replace Lita seven minutes from the end. As Lita departed Long trotted into the United penalty area as Reading prepared to launch a free kick from just inside their own half. The kick was knocked on by Sonko and with his first touch Long controlled the ball and with his second he lashed it past Given for what proved to be the winning goal.

Reading started positively today and looked more likely to score in spite of United's ability to pass the ball neatly around in midfield. Emre, Butt and Barton saw lot of the ball but their passing lacked penetration. At the back United looked very shaky at times and Reading should have scored twice in the first half. Doyle slipped a clever ball inside to Lita on twelve minutes but with the goal at his mercy he made a complete hash of it. Just before half time Doyle broke down the left, the defender recovered and Doyle beat him again before sending a cross over to Hunt. Hunt nodded the ball across goal to Lita who instead of hitting it first time used an extra touch before ballooning the ball high into the stand. In between Hahnemann came out quickly to stifle a Michael Owen opportunity from a good early cross. Kitson was playing deep at times and getting through a phenomenal amount of work defensively as well as supporting the attack. Lita although guilty of wayward finishing was also working hard for the team. Coppell was right to play Lita, Kitson and Doyle - even with Doyle playing out of position wide on the right. They are clearly Reading's three best forwards, and of the three, Doyle is best suited to a wide role.

Reading took the lead eight minutes into the second half. Hunt slid a pass across the edge of the box which made its way to Kitson who stroked it left-footed into the top right corner of the net. United reacted as expected but the defensive frailty so evident away from home was not there today as Reading worked a as unit to deny scoring opportunities. The equaliser was out of character with what had gone before. Hunt conceded a free kick down by the corner flag. Remarkably nobody cut out what was in fact a poorly hit free kick and Duberry was unable to get out the way and deflected it into his own net. From then on both teams seemed intent on finding a winning goal but it clearly Reading's day as Long secured the points. Hahnemann was forced to make one save near the end but in truth Duberry and Sonko had handled the threat of Owen and Martins very effectively. The presence of Sonko had a lot to do with the confidence which seemed to grow throughout the game. He was ably assisted by Duberry most of the time but it would help if he stopped committing unnecessary fouls with rash challenges on the half way line. There has been a lot of talk of second season syndrome, but it might also be the case that our relatively young and inexperienced players are beginning benefit from the experience of playing at the highest level and are developing into better players. Certainly on today's showing they do not look out of their depth.
John Wells

Well played Reading, as Sir Steve said after the game, "it was like welcoming back an old friend". Without doubt the best performance of the season and a team that was unrecognisable in going forward and attacking from recent performances. Sonko, Doyle and Kitson all had storming games with Kitson capping his man of the match award with a cracking goal. Sonko has definitely added strength to the back four and Doyal playing wide out right was a revelation, it was only Lita's woeful finishing that didn't bring more goals and thank god we got the result after Lita's first half miss of the season that my Mum would have scored. Newcastle were woeful and a disgrace to their travelling fans and when you think of the wages those players are on you wonder how mad the game of football is. Reading outfought, outplayed, outpassed and put in a performance that was a joy to watch they simply battered Newcastle. Yes we played the long ball game but with no creative midfield players we don't really have much choice, in saying that Harper and Gunnarsson were magnificent and though they won't get the headlines their grafting performances won't go unnoticed by the fans. Apparently we've the same points this season as we had last, if we play like we did yesterday we will be ok, but it's still going to be a very long winter, but to see the way our players got stuck in yesterday, dying for the shirt from full back to forward was what we want to see and that's why the players were cheered off to a rapturous ovation .We'll all take a draw at Fulham next week, a place we won last season, probably end up 4-4 or the like .....URZ
Nick Newbury

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Reports of Reading's demise appear widely exaggerated on the evidence of this spirited performance and thoroughly deserved victory. From start to finish they worked harder, played the better football and created more chances. Had more of those chances been accepted, they could have won by a handsome margin. As it was, Newcastle got lucky with an equaliser, but Shane Long came on with seven minutes left and immediately restored his side's lead. Anything less would have been an injustice.
Stuart Barnes, The Observer

After this thoroughly deserved victory, Reading now find themselves on the same number of points as they were at the equivalent stage of last season, when they went on to finish eighth and just missed out on a place in Europe. Steve Coppell is refusing to take refuge in the coincidence following a mixed start to their second term in the top flight, but there was no mistaking the mood of optimism yesterday. Coppell's side outplayed a disappointing Newcastle team whose lofty Premier League ambitions continue to be undermined by their inability to perform away from St James' Park.
Simon Hart, The Telegraph