Match Report: 2010/2011 Season

30 October 2010: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Mills (9 mins), Karacan (60 mins), Harte (74 mins), Church (88 mins).
Doncaster: Hayter (26 mins), Martis (42 mins), Shiels (50 mins).
Half Time: 1-2.

Attendance: 15,553

Pos Team P Pts GD
5 Norwich 14 23 +2
6 READING 14 22 +8
7 Derby 14 21 +8
Reading: Federici, Mills, Harte, Griffin, Khizanishvili, McAnuff, Tabb (Hunt, 56) , Howard, Karacan, Robson-Kanu (Antonio, 82) , Long (Church, 56). Subs not used: Pearce, Cummings, McCarthy, Armstrong.
Doncaster: Sullivan, Martis, O'Connor, Mills, Dumbuya, Coppinger, Woods, Oster (Hird, 69) , Stock, Shiels (Webster, 87) , Hayter. Subs not used: Chambers, Wilson, Thomas, Woods.
Reading: Hunt.
Doncaster: -
Ref: G Hegley (Hertfordshire).
In terms of entertainment games like this are hard to beat. Reading fans left the Madejski Stadium today with a feeling of elation after a quite a remarkable afternoon. The mood of optimism following a magnificent away win at Burnley last week was fuelled by an early goal from former Rovers defender Matt Mills. By half time that mood of optimism had been replaced by gloom as Rovers equalised and then took the lead due to poor defending by the Royals. Many of the home fans left for an early cup of tea and trickled back late in sombre just in time to see Sheils take advantage of more slack defending to put the visitors into a three one lead. As Rovers passed the ball around neatly, a heavy home defeat looked on the cards. The Rovers fans revelled in their team's success and chorused 'We're just too good for you'. They were made to eat their words as their team crumbled in the face of an amazing cone back by the Royals which culminated in Church sweeping home a cross from fellow substitute Antonio for a winning goal in the final minutes.

Reading started brightly and the quality of the crossing was much improved from recent home games, one of which led to the opening goal. I think it was Robson-Kanu who managed to get his head to a Harte free-kick taken wide on the left, and the ball fell to Mills to poke home from close range. Knowing Mills he must have felt particularly pleased having been booed by the visiting fans. Rovers were trying hard to catch Reading offside and nearly came unstuck twice as both Long and Tabb found themselves in one on one situations with Sullivan. Long hit the side netting under pressure and Tabb really should have done better as he tried to go round the 'keeper. Neither side could find any consistency with their passing, and apart from a snap shot from outside the box by Coppinger which Federici saved well, Rovers did not threaten to equalise in the opening quarter of the game.

On twenty-eight minutes it started to go wrong for the home side. Rovers attacked down Reading's left flank, Robson-Kanu got the wrong side of his man allowing space for a cross to the near post. Mills was slow to react and Hayter got to the near post before him and glanced a well-placed header down and past Federici. Reading continued to whip in good crosses but nobody seemed to be able or willing to attack, apart from Long, who flashed a powerful header wide. Things went from bad to worse. This time it was Howard who found himself defending on the wrong side of his man and made an awkward challenge with his 'wrong' foot. The referee decided it was foul and from the resulting free-kick Reading's central defenders were simply not strong enough in the air and Martis headed in from close range. Mills looked to be guilty again. Half time came and there were one or two angry and frustrated boos from home fans.

Howard returned after the interval still whinging to the referee about the injustice of the free kick which led to the second goal. The home fans failed to respond to the traditional half time rallying call to 'back the boys and make some noise.' Rovers got on with job and their passing looked much sharper. It looked all over when Harte dallied and Shiels nipped in to plant the ball in the far corner to make it three-one. Against a good passing side such as Rovers it seemed very unlikely that Reading could claw back a two goal deficit.

The final thirty minutes produced a simply astonishing come back by the Royals. Brian McDermott was decisive in his substitutions bringing on Church and Hunt for Long and Tabb. Hunt immediately made an impact, crossing for Karacan to head in off the upright. Suddenly the fans began to sense there was hope and roused their team to step up a gear. Rovers began to panic under the threat of a resurgent Royals. The most lenient referee I have seem for a long time ( I was little concerned by the way he embraced and shared a joke with one of the Rovers coaching staff in the warm up!) was determined to keep his cards in his pocket in spite of some particularly late challenges. Robson-Kanu headed over from yet another fine cross by Harte. The equaliser looked likely and when it came it was quite magnificent. Reading were awarded a free kick outside the box and Harte struck it with power and precision over the wall and under the bar with Sullivan stranded at the other post. One Rovers defender made a late decision to scramble back to cover that post but he was equally powerless as the ball flew over his head under the bar. Many would have been satisfied with a draw but clearly not McDermott. Robson-Kanu was replaced by 'wild card' Antonio for the final onslaught. The crowning glory came from a superb move, the quality of which may have been lost in the euphoria which followed. Howard slipped a perfectly weighted and incisive pass through the Rovers back line, Antonio ran onto it and played an equally good ball for Church to finish. Rovers finally paying the price for relying too heavily on a far from perfected offside strategy.

With four games coming up against teams near the top if the league it could be a bleak November, but on this form anything might happen, and right now I doubt if many Reading fans care. They will just be looking forard to the next game.
John Wells

From the absolutely ridiculous to the.....well, something verging on almost being quite good for that last half hour. Decent enough start but then we were quite, quite awful until the time we switched to a 4-4-2. Defensively were wretched throughout; all 3 Donny goals came from Harte's side, I thought he was run ragged for most of the game and the third goal was absolute Sunday League defending. But then he comes up with an absolute pearler of a freekick which rather sums our team up really - somewhat inconsistent :| . The shoddy defending continued right up until the very final kick where holding on to a lead we got the offside trap all wrong and two Doncaster players practically tripped over each other.....and missed :| The difference in switching to 4-4-2 was almost instantaneous. It aso lifted the crowd who to be fair stuck behind the team throughout. Reading can most politely be described as a direct side, and we play to our strengths when the tempo is fast and we get the ball into the channels. We utterly failed to do that until we switched to 4-4-2 and hopefully the manager will spend all week trying to work out why because if we line up at QPR next week with Shane bloody Long on his own up front I might cry. Well done to NHunt and Church for turning the game, the manager for bringing them on and also to Karacan for the latest in a string of decent performances I have seen from him in recent weeks. Off for a lie down now :|
Floyd Streete

Sixty disappointing minutes of hoofball with some shocking defending. We should have gone 2-0 up, but it was like watching Keegan's England really. Once we moved to 442, everybody seemed in the right place and the full backs managed to pass to the wingers again. The goals were good ones and there was something to cheer. I liked HRK and MacAnuff and though that Antonio looked a great late substitute, but Karacan was possibly the man of the match: he carried the ball back to the centre-spot when we went 3-1 down, and once he scored to get a goal back, the momentum had moved and an entertaining finish always looked likely. The ref was an odd one (there might be two refs in the country who wouldn't have sent off Gary Neville last week) but he did seem to get most of the decisions right, played advantage well, and apart from one early on which he cocked up, allowed both teams to play early and inventive free kicks.
Handsome Man

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Simon Church scored a late winner as Reading fought back from 3-1 down to beat Doncaster in a superb match. Reading's Matt Mills opened the scoring when he converted Ian Harte's free-kick before James Hayter headed in for 1-1. Sheldon Martis then nodded Rovers into the lead and Dean Shiels tapped in for 3-1 before Jem Karacken pulled a goal back for the Royals with a header. Harte then fired in the equaliser with a brilliant free-kick and Church fired in the winner from six yards, late on. The seventh goal came as a result of a great move when Michail Antonio played in Church who slotted past the helpless Sullivan.
BBC Sport