MATCH REPORT: 2010/2011 Season

Reading: Hunt (49 mins), Mills (57 mins).
Swansea: Sinclair (21 mins pen, 22 mins, 80 mins pen), Dobbie (40 mins).
Half Time: 0-3.

Attendance: 86,581

Pos Team P Pts GD
4 Cardiff 46 80 +22
5 READING 46 77 +26
6 Nottm F 46 75 +19
Reading: A. Federici, M. Mills, I. Harte, A. Griffin (H. Robson-Kanu, 84), Z. Khizanishvili, J. McAnuff, M. Leigertwood, J. Kebe, J. Karacan, N. Hunt (S. Church, 76), S. Long.
Subs not used: B. Howard, A. Pearce, J. Tabb (sent off), A. McCarthy, S. Cummings.
Swansea City: D. De Vries, A. Tate, A. Williams, G. Monk, A. Rangel, L. Britton (M. Gower, 77), S. Sinclair, N. Dyer, J. Allen (L. Moore, 89), S. Dobbie (D. Pratley, 55), F. Borini.
Subs not used: Y. Makaba-Makalamby, A. Richards, A. Serran, C. Beattie.
Reading: Griffin, Khizanishvili, McAnuff.
Swansea: Gower, Allen, Borini.
Ref: P Dowd.
A disastrous first half condemned Reading to another season in the Championship, despite a magnificent fight back in the early stages of the second half. This was an excellent play-off final for the neutral and gave both sets of fans the full run of emotions. At half time, and 0-3 down, it was pure despair for the 40,000 Reading fans packed into Wembley Stadium. After half time there was only one team in it as Reading dominated the game for twenty minutes. Reading flooded forward, pulled back two goals, and so nearly pulled back the third to level the game. Had Karacan's effort been an inch to the left, after the deflection which took it onto the base of the Swansea post, then it was have been 3-3 with Reading in full control. That was the point that Reading were closest to the Premiership - more so than when the game started. Shortly afterwards Swansea got the game back under control, kept hold of the ball, and Reading lost their momentum again before the crucial fourth Swansea goal from the penalty spot that sent Swansea up.

It was shame we'd given ourselves such a mountain to climb after a nervous first half in which Reading looked a mess compared to Swansea's slick passing football. Reading looked edgy and unable to settle down. Griffin, unfairly, picked up an early yellow card which did nothing for the nerves, and immediately Swansea looked comfortable. Everytime Swansea came forward they looked dangerous, while Reading attacks broke down with mis-placed passes time and time again. The Reading defence crumbled under any kind of pressure and after Griffin's early card it was easy to see us finishing the game without eleven men. Khizanishvilli was struggling and conceeded a penalty on twenty minutes which was fired home with Federici sent the wrong way. Sinclair doubled Swansea's lead a couple of minutes later as they cut through with ease. At two goals down Reading already looked beaten. The third before half time was not a suprise, and at the break all the discussion was only about how many Swansea would add in the second half. News filtered through that Tabb had been sent-off from the bench after a "discussion" with the referee and the mood deepened further. The big day out at Wembley was turning sour at an alarming rate.

Yet, it all turned around as soon as the second half started with Reading on the attack and getting in an early shot to set the pattern for the next twenty minutes. All of a sudden the game looked to be turning into that classic game of two halves. Reading came out on fire. The Reading fans behind the goal were in full voice. Reading swarmed forward. Within four minutes we got the crucial goal to bring the game alive. McAnuff's corner found Hunt in the middle and his header found the target via a deflection off Swansea defender Allen. The Royals won a stream of corners as Swansea looked equally likely to conceed on each attack as Reading had in the first half. Another McAnuff corner was met by Mills to make it 2-3 with 57 minutes on the clock. The Reading fans went mental - absolute euphoria - and suddenly we all thought our play-off luck was finally to change. Moments later, with Swansea firmly on the ropes, Karacan looked to have delivered a potentially fatal blow to the Swans. However, his effort smacked against the foot of the post with every Reading fan on their feet. The ball rebounded out - and surely was going to be driven into the back of the net - but was blocked, allowing Swansea to clear the danger. More corners followed as Reading kept up the pressure for a while... until Swansea managed to calm the game down. It was all about making it count, and we came so close to doing that. However after failing to get the crucial third goal, and after such a huge effort, our moment, our historic comeback, faded.

Swansea steadied themselves, got back on their feet, and started holding up the ball again to stem the Reading revival. With time starting to run out, the equaliser looked less and less likely. Swansea won their first corner of the game and relaxed again with the ball back out of their half. Ten minutes later Griffin conceeded a clumsy penalty with the ball heading out of play. There was no need but there could be no argument. Sinclair stepped up, Federici went the right way this time and nearly reached it, but couldn't stop it hitting the back of the net for Sinclair's hat-trick. 2-4, and Swansea were promoted to the Premiership and Reading were forced to suffer yet another play-off final disappointment. Yet, it didn't feel quite so bad this time around. Maybe we're just getting used to losing in the play-offs or maybe it was that for twenty minutes it was really quite special, a magic moment at Wembley, after we'd already written the game off.

I can't remember a game passing so quickly. The whole experience was somehow unreal. Along with 40,000 other Royals fans I sat in disbelief as we saw our team disintegrate in the first half of the the most crucial game of the season. Against a good, but by no means outstanding Swansea team, Reading conceded three goals. To complete the feeling of despair their leading scorer missed an absolute sitter on the stroke of half time. The second half flew by as the Royals tore Swansea to shreds with an onslaught which produced two headed goals from corners in the space of eight minutes just after the break. The turning point in the game came soon after the second goal when Jem Karacan's low drive was deflected against the post. At that point, thoughts of my last visit to Wembley came flooding back when Reading, two goals ahead against Bolton, missed a penalty. My heart sank then and that same feeling returned and the seeds of doubt were sewn. Had the equaliser arrived at that point who knows what might have happened.

Reading's lack of pace at the back was cruelly exposed by Dyer and Sinclair, and it was a late lunge by Griffin produced the penalty which sealed their fate. As Sinclair prepared to take the spot kick I glanced at the clock and unbelievably only ten minutes remained. As the ball hit the back of the net everyone knew it was all over. I suppose it was inevitable that a team managed by Bendan Rogers, who had failed so miserably at Reading, should lead his team to victory which denied the Royals a place in the Premiership next season. Neutrals would argue that Swansea had already beaten Reading twice this season in the league and finished two places above the Royals in the league and therefore deserved to be promoted. Reading were not helped today by some poor refereeeing. I find it hard to believe Swansea only committed four fouls in the entire game. Interestingly they only managed four shots on target as well! Maybe Reading deserved better.

Although this was a disappointing end to a good season next season will bring fresh hope, but there will inevitably be changes. Long will probably go although he will struggle to hold down a regular spot in a Premiership team. Some of the older plyers may not cope with another season and Brian Mcdermott will have to work hard on a low budget to rebuild his team. If anyone can he will.
John Wells

Gutted. Absolutely gutted. 3-0 down at half-time and we looked out of it, but I don't remember them touching the ball for the first 20 minutes of the second half, we grabbed two goals from corners and Karacan hit the post - if that had gone in, I'm certain this post would be elation rather than despair. At 3-2 Swansea were rocking and everyone around me truly believed the comeback was on, revenge for those previous playoff turnarounds. But those are the margins I guess.

Defensively, I'm annoyed we conceded two penalties. To do that in such a big game is criminal. Clearly they had identified Harte as the weak link as the other two goals came from their right flank. Other than that, we coped extremely well with everything they threw at us pretty much, and we dominated the game. I don't know the stats but I'm sure we must have had at least 15 shots and that many corners too, far more than them anyway. Which makes it all the more galling that we only lost through two easily avoidable penalties.

I thought Kebe looked a touch off the pace when putting in crosses but every time he got the ball they caused problems and stepped off. He'll be a big miss if he leaves in the summer. McAnuff on the other wing was effective too. Our strikers were pretty poor (aside from Noel's goal), a combination of poor service and a lack of decisions going our way (although Dowd did get the two penalties right). Shane seemed visibly gutted to have played his last game for the Royals. No complaints about Legs and Karacan, energy and commitment all game - although possibly one of them could have picked up Dobbie for their third?

I guess to sum up, I'd have never expected in February to have even been in the playoffs, yet to come this far and lose when we dominated proceedings so much really hurts. But we know that on another day that shot would have gone in, or Hunt would have buried the rebound, or Long would have put away that header at the end of the first half, or Kish at the back post in the second half... Congrats to Swansea, I think the media and the general football community wanted to see the Jacks in the Premier League so fair play to them. There's always next year...

Can hold our heads high, sang louder when we were losing that Swansea when they were cruising. Dominated the game for most of it, thought they were boring as hell and we gifted them goals, they need a massive overhaul if they're to stand a chance next seaosn. Won't be disappointed to have the likes of McCarthy, Cummings and Pearce starting ahead of Feds, Khiz and Griffin in the future. Our talented academy prospects can be nurtured at the club next season rather than on loan and I've got loads of easy away fixtures to go to.

Really couldn't care much about being in the Premier League but would have been nice to have been able to celebrate after the final whistle. Reading fans leaving the stadium singing with pride and smiles on faces, I love this club!

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Scott Sinclair hit a hat-trick as Swansea became the first Welsh side to reach the Premier League after holding off a brave Reading fightback in a pulsating Championship play-off final at Wembley. The Swans have not played in the top flight of English football since 1983 but they scored three unanswered first-half goals to take control of Monday's match. Sinclair struck twice in as many minutes midway through the half, first from the penalty spot and then with a close-range finish, before Stephen Dobbie scored with his right foot from 16 yards. Royals substitute Jay Tabb and assistant manager Nigel Gibbs were both red carded at the break after abusing referee Phil Dowd on what was turning into an afternoon to forget for Brian McDermott and his team, but the Royals surged back into the contest after the restart. Joe Allen headed into his own net following Noel Hunt's flicked header, and Matt Mills converted a corner as Reading scored twice in eight minutes to leave the contest on a knife edge. Jem Karacan struck the Swansea post but Sinclair converted his second penalty of the afternoon 10 minutes from the end as the Welsh side held on. Swansea, who almost went out of business nine years ago, were far from their fluent best for most of the match but showed guts and resolve as Reading tore into them after the break. And their victory means that boss Brendan Rodgers, sacked by Reading after 23 games in charge in December 2009, ends his first campaign in south Wales celebrating the first promotion of his managerial career.
BBC Sport

It was a long haul to glory. After 48 matches in the Championship and play-offs Swansea had to resist a Reading recovery from 3-0 down at half-time in the 49th. They held on for a time after Brian McDermott's side had scored twice before striking again to secure a 4-2 win. They did so, above all, because of a hat-trick from Scott Sinclair, who was once a prodigy at Chelsea. The second of the penalties he converted ended Reading's hope 10 minutes from full-time. Andy Griffin needlessly felled Fabio Borini and Sinclair once more converted the penalty with a shot to the goalkeeper's right. Brendan Rogers' side will be the first Welsh club in the top flight since the inception of the Premier League. Reading were generally incapable initially of resisting pressure and the taxing encounter anticipated did not break loose until the second-half. There was logic to the outcome since Swansea had prevailed in both meetings with Reading in the regular season, but the 1-0 margins had suggested strain and tension of a different sort at Wembley. Swansea looked for a time as if they could spend the whole occasion reeling off goals. The Reading centre-half Zurab Khizanishvilli was in such distress that he could have had a red card instead of a single caution. It was the Georgian who brought down Nathan Dyer in the 21st minute and Sinclair sent the goalkeeper Adam Federici the wrong way with the penalty. The scorer had a further goal a minute later, knocking the ball home after Federici was able only to tip a low cross from Stephen Dobbie into his path. In the 45th minute, Khizanishvilli floundered once more by diverting the ball so that Dobbie could put his name on the scoresheet. Reading were in such disarray then that it did not seem so surprising that the referee Phil Dowd should send the assistant manager, Nigel Gibbs, and the substitute Jay Tabb to the stands at the interval following his encounter with them in the tunnel. The passion was put to better use by an eager and suddenly incisive Reading following the interval. Joe Allen was credited with an own goal after Noel Hunt's header from a Jobi McAnuff corner deflected off the midfielder and past Dorus De Vries at the near post. A further corner would see Matt Mills score in the 57th minute, but nothing was to eclipse Sinclair and Swansea.
The Guardian