MATCH REPORT: 2007/2008 Season

29 March 2008: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: -
Blackburn: -
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 23,274

Pos Team P Pts GD
13 Sunderland 32 33 -20
14 READING 32 32 -21
15 Newcastle 31 32 -24
Reading: Hahnemann, Rosenior, Ingimarsson, Bikey, Shorey, Oster (Long 77), Harper, Matejovsky, Hunt, Doyle, Kitson (Cisse 76). Subs Not Used: Federici, Convey, Duberry.
Blackburn: Friedel, Ooijer (McCarthy 82), Nelsen, Khizanishvili, Warnock, Bentley, Reid, Dunn (Derbyshire 86), Pedersen, Santa Cruz, Roberts. Subs Not Used: Brown, Vogel, Mokoena.
Reading: Hahnemann, Matejovsky, Shorey. Sent Off: Matejovsky (72 mins).
Blackburn: Nelsen, Warnock, Roberts, Reid, Khizanishvili.
Ref: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear).
The adrenalin rush created by a sense of injustice at some appalling decisions from the match officials probably gave ten man Reading an edge which helped them overcome the disadvantage of being reduced to ten men for the last twenty minutes and secure a valuable point. Had Steven Hunt been functioning on slightly less adrenalin he might have given Reading all three points in the dying minutes. Instead the excitement proved too much for him and he wasted a golden chance presented to him by Shane Long. Referee Clattenburg had caused uproar in the seventy second minute when Marek Matejovsky was dismissed by for a second bookable offence. Minutes later the referees assistant failed to flag for two blatant offside decisions sending the Reading crowd into outraged frenzy. On the first occasion half the Rovers team looked to be in an offside position and for the second week in succession Reading were grateful for Hahnemann's professionalism when he saved first and asked questions later. Shorey was booked for offering to explain the laws of the game to the incompetent official.

Blackburn may be looking for a place in Europe but the quality of their play did little to suggest they were superior to Reading today. Although they were never excessively physical, they conceded more than their fair share of cynical fouls. Clattenburg seemed reluctant to produce a yellow card in the first half but more than made up for it in the second. He dished out a total of eight yellow cards and one red once he got started just before the interval. If Matejovsky deserved to be sent off, then so did Nelsen. He hauled Doyle back as the reading forward broke free down the right and then deliberately knocked the ball from Hahnemann's hand as he was about to release the ball to launch a Reading counter attack. The second offence was suitably rewarded with a yellow card. Pederson forced the only save of the first half from Hahnemann. Blackburn lacked imagination in attack and were often content to hoof it out of play at the back. Reading were more enterprising but their was insufficient quality in their passing to open up a well drilled Rovers defence.

Bikey's physical dominance of Santa Cruz and Roberts throughout was complete, bordering on the arrogant, and he even found time to produce reading's best attempt on goal, a header which was cleared off the line near the end. Oster produced a moment of magic when he nutmegged a Rovers defender to cross for Hunt but then wasted a series of corners. He shows some nice touches at times but lacks the commitment to get in where it hurts and on one occasion drifted away from the six yard box thus avoiding a decent cross to the far post. Doyle worked hard again but he more than anyone must be longing for Little's return to receive better service form the right.

The second half was livelier but there still was nothing to trouble either 'keeper until a Bentley volley tested Hahnemann in the seventy second minute. Then all hell broke loose following the sending off, and Hahnemann had to be on his toes to keep Rovers out. Hunt completed a hat trick of misses after Long had dispossessed a ponderous Rovers defender and found him unmarked with his cross. With the home crowd roaring them on, Reading looked as likely to win as Rovers.

A draw was not a bad result for Reading especially after Bolton's collapse against the Gunners had left them six points below the Royals. Matejovsky's ban will not help the cause next week, but Cisse will no doubt provide solid cover if not the same cutting edge in midfield.
John Wells

"In god we trust" and it looks like our faith in Sir Steve and our prayers are going to be answered. It may be at the behest of Fulham and Bolton but who gives a flying toss about that! These relegation dog fights really do test your nerves and in a funny way can, and I emphasis can, be enjoyable, that is of course you avoid the dreaded drop . How many of us celebrated Derby equaliser against Fulham and Boltons wonderful ninetieth minute own goal against the Gooners having been two up against ten men. A month ago I thought we needed a miracle to stay up and March has proved miracles can happen in football, a bit over the top I know, but you know what I mean. The great Mark McGhee once said, an average of two points a game is championship form, he was spot on, and that's exactly what we've achieved in March with a wonderful glorious ten points and none earned harder than yesterdays points against Bolton. Oh Stephen Hunt, five minutes to go, Shane Long does wonders to get the ball charges down the wing , spots Hunty unmarked on far post five yards out, perfect cross, time slows down, like slow motion, we all rise as one, Hunty pulls back foot to slam ball home for three glorious points and....... totally misses the ball! Could you believe it, nor could you believe it when Bikey had his header cleared of the line minutes later , but after another five or so blood pressure rising minutes the useless ref Battenburg blew the whistle and we had a precious point . The sending of was a joke like the ref, and Marek will be missed at Newcastle but will be back for the huge Fulham game. We didn't play that well yesterday with quite a few like Kitson , Hunty and Shorey having poor games, but again Bikey had a stormer, clear man of the match, Oster did well and deserves credit and you have to take your hat off to Coco Hahnemann who yet again saved us, no doubt. If they had of scored when four were about ten yards offside I think the linesman would have been lynched , but somehow USA stuck a leg out just like last week and saved the day. Six games left, four away, but with the possible exception of Arsenal away, all winnable. I think another five points will do it, maybe just four, but we all know there's plenty of time for wicked twists before we can all relax. Fulham have now not won away for 43 games, their next away game is Reading FC, I wonder what you're thinking!! Keep the faith UURRZZZ!!!
Nick Newbury

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NO GOALS and nine bookings resulting in one dismissal. This might have seemed like a blood and guts encounter, but bloodless would be a more accurate description, both sides’ fear of losing far greater than any real ambition to carry the day. It was also a match which the referee Mark Clattenburg threatened to lose control of after a display of fussiness that left so many players teetering on the edge of dismissal and led to a harsh red card for Czech midfielder Marek Matejovsky 17 minutes from the finish. Blackburn, despite their need to pick up points in a bid to get into Europe, never took full advantage of that dismissal, though the Reading goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was by far the busier and had to pull off a couple of excellent saves in the second half to earn a valuable point for the home side. Some of the other results at the bottom of the table didn’t go Reading’s way but, as Steve Coppell put it afterwards, “relying on other results is not a good way of extending a career in football”.
Sunday Times

After a quiet first half the game finally came to life after the break.Matejovsky departed after two bookable offences before Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann denied Zurab Khizanishvili and Morten Gamst Pedersen. Stephen Hunt should have won it late on, but failed to connect with Shane Long's cross and Brad Friedel pulled off a great save from Andre Bikey.
BBC Sport