Match Report: 2011/2012 Season

29 October 2011: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: -
Crystal Palace: -
Half Time: 0-0.

Attendance: 21,002

Pos Team P Pts GD
15 Burley 13 18 +1
16 READING 14 18 +1
17 Millwall 14 15 -1
Reading: A Federici, K Gorkss, A Pearce, J Mills, S Cummings, J McAnuff, M Leigertwood, J Karacan, H Robson-Kanu (J Kebe, 72), A Le Fondre, S Church (N Hunt, 71).
Subs not used: A McCarthy, I Harte, M Manset.
Crystal Palace: J Speroni, A Gardner, D Wright, P McCarthy, N Clyne, J Williams (J Parr, 81), D Moxey, S Scannell (D Ambrose, 77), M Jedinak, G Murray, W Zaha.
Subs not used: L Price, J Easter, K Dikgacoi.
Reading: Mills, McAnuff, Karacan, Robson-Kanu.
Crystal Palace: Zaha.
Ref: A Woolmer.
It is rare for Brian McDermott to make excuses or criticise referees, but judging by his post match comments today, Reading were, as I suspected, robbed of a deserved three points by an incorrect decision to disallow a goal scored by Gorkss in the final seconds of added time. There would have certainly not even been insufficient time for Palace to mount another attack had the goal been allowed to stand. From where I was standing it looked a perfectly good goal and a fitting climax to a superb performance by the Royals. Once again Reading outplayed a team in good form and considered to be serious promotion contenders.

Both teams are currently unbeaten for several games and were therefore understandably confident of their chances of winning. Reading attacked purposefully with crisp short passes and Palace were troubling the Reading back four with their willingness to run at defenders and take them on. Mills and Cummings in particular were under pressure in the early stages but as the game wore on they both coped well apart from a rash challenge by Mills which earned him a deserved yellow card. Robson-Kanu, having learned last week how important it is to maintain concentration provided excellent defensive support for Mills on the left side of Reading's defence. The clearer chances of the first half were created by Reading. Karacan drew the first save of the game from Speroni soon followed by another from a long range effort by Gorkss. Both attempts were well struck but straight at the 'keeper. Ten minutes from half time Speroni had to work much harder to keep out a thunderous effort form the edge of the box by Karacan. Palace managed to put the ball in the net before half time but it was long after the flag and whistle for offside.

Reading dominated the second half. Leigertwood and Karacan were again in outstanding form, breaking up Palaces' attempts to work the ball through midfield and moving the ball around quickly and purposefully. Palace were on the back foot and chasing shadows for most of the second half. Reading had learned from their mistake last week and were retaining possession and creating openings from throw-ins. Karacan almost made room a for shot in the box but was closed down quickly. Robson-Kanu missed a sitter with a glancing header from a great cross from McAnuff. Cummings was getting forward and posing a real threat. On the hour he ran through the Palace defence into the box but was unable find the finish the run deserved and he shot straight at Speroni. The large and vociferous contingent of Reading fans sensed victory and roared their team on. Hunt and Kebe replaced Robson-Kanu and Church but if anything Reading seemed to lose a bit of momentum following the substitutions. Kebe looked sluggish but did produce a good deep cross for Le Fondre to head against the bar with Speroni beaten. As Palace rallied, chances came their way too as both teams went for the win. Karacan headed the ball off the line to keep out a goal bound effort and there were optimistic appeals for a penalty when Parr tumbled over Federici as the Reading 'keeper reached the ball first to push ball beyond his reach. Deep into added time Mills curled an excellent corner to the far post where Gorkss headed past Speroni. The referee rescued Palace by giving a free kick, as they often do under pressure, for what he thought he saw, rather than what he actually saw, and Reading had to settle for less than they deserved. However, not even a dodgy referee's decision could detract from another fine away performance as the Royals continue to improve.

As I left the ground I overheard several Palace fans analysing their team's performance. ' We did didn't play well today' was the general consensus. How else could they justify being outplayed at home by a team in the bottom half of the division? On this form we might yet see the teams swapping places by the end of the season.
John Wells

Bit of a scrappy one with not many chances at each end. I agreed with a Palace fan on the train that we had the best of it but ultimately a draw was a fair reflection. He seemed to reckon it was a stonewall pen towards the end with Federici coming out but I was pretty certain he got a touch on the ball I didn't see a push for the dissallowed goal but it was a pretty packed box, with bodies all over the place. It's a shame as it would have made the trip worthwhile. Mills looked better and dealt well enough with the dangerous Zaha (a petulant little boy as it happens). Another draw isn't ideal but we looked pretty tight at the back against a Palace side playing really well. They were pretty poor today and we werent ruthless enough with the few chances we did have. Although we defended well I really feel like there's a lack of fluency in attack, not helped by the hoofballs from the back. Palace showed a real urge to get the ball down and move it about. I don't think we're lacking quality but it's a similar story to the run of draws last year when we weren't quite getting the rub of the green and squeezing the extra points out of games. Onto the next one.

Decent game, burst into life in the second half which we completely dominated, albeit for an clear palace penalty which we got lucky. Sheer jubilation turned into sheer frustration in a split second as Gorkss saw. Ref bottled that as he didnt give that penalty five minutes earlier. We need to have better composure. Should have scored from numerous chances in second half. Great cross by Mcanuff for I think Le fondre to head wide, then quality ball from Kebe for him to hit the bar. If we had a little more confidence we would have won easily, against a very poor Palace. Gorkss was outstanding as always. Leigertwood and Karacan worked hard and seem to be forming a good partnership. Kanu has disappointed me in last two games. Never takes on his man and seems bereft of confidence. Church was poor, but Cummings looks class at the moment, and forms a good partnership with Mcanuff. All in all would have taken a draw before the game, but after controlling second half disappointed not to take one of our chances. Atmosphere was quality, although there was one kid trying to sing songs and getting frustrated no one was joining in. He was singing 'sit down and behave urself a lot', which made me think he needs to look in the mirror.

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Crystal Palace lost valuable ground in the Championship's promotion race as they were held at home by Reading. In an open match, Palace thought they had taken the lead when Glenn Murray slotted home only to be denied by a marginal offside call. Reading, unbeaten since 10 September, went close when Noel Hunt's header from Jimmy Kebe's cross hit the post. And Kaspars Gorkss had a last-minute header ruled out for the visitors for pushing an opponent. For Reading, the result was their fourth draw in five matches yet had it not been for Palace keeper Julian Speroni they might have collected all three points. Jem Karacan saw an early effort well saved by Speroni while the keeper had to make a superb stop to thwart Karacan's 20-yard drive later in the half. Palace thought they had taken the lead five minutes before the break when Murray latched on to Williams' through-ball and beat Adam Federici, only to be denied by the assistant's flag. Reading, looking to move into the top half of the table, should have been ahead in the second half but Hal Robson-Kanu headed Jobi McAnuff's cross wide from close range. Federici made a good save from Mile Jedinak as Palace pressed but the visitors again went close when Hunt headed against the post with Speroni beaten. And in the final minute Karacan cleared off the line for Reading before Gorkss was denied at the other end because of a push.
BBC Sport