MATCH REPORT: 2007/2008 Season

Reading: Harper (90 mins).
Middlesbrough: -
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 23,273

Pos Team P Pts GD
17 Bolton 27 25 -12
18 READING 28 25 -23
19 Fulham 28 19 -23
Reading: Hahnemann, Rosenior, Ingimarsson, Bikey, Shorey, Oster (Kitson 68), Harper, Matejovsky (Kebe 85), Hunt, Doyle (Cisse 85), Long. Subs Not Used: Federici, Sonko.
Middlesbrough: Schwarzer, Young, Wheater, Pogatetz, Grounds, O'Neil, Boateng (Johnson 74), Arca (Cattermole 59), Downing, Alves (Mido 68), Sanli. Subs Not Used: Jones, Hines.
Reading: Bikey, Rosenior, Hunt, Shorey, Long.
Middlesbrough: Boateng, Wheater, Grounds, Downing.
Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).

A match that was a minute. OK. Let’s cut straight to the chase. We’re into the second minute of injury time and it’s still goalless. We’re all suddenly thinking: “heh, we could nick this here” (to use Ron Atkinson speak). Reading are attacking the away end. Hunty exchanges a one-two with Nicky. We all stand up. Hunty just latches onto the return, gets to the byline and squares into the box. Kits arrives too early. Then it reaches Harps on the penalty spot. He must score... and he does. Pandemonium! We’re all punching the air. I think the fella next to me is going to hug me but thankfully he’s doesn’t. I haven’t experienced such extreme injury time salvation since Becks against Greece and Platty against Belgium. Boy, has this moment been a long time coming. For the rest of the game the England comparison is valid too, unfortunately. Everyone is woefully lacking in confidence and possession is forever being given away. How can players we know can play so well play so poorly especially against such relatively weak opposition? We didn’t deserve to win and there’s a long way to go yet but we’re due some luck. Longy and Marcus toss their shirts into the away end with good reason. Cue “springboard” cliches... Footnote: Living in Yorkshire and since loyalty points were not being awarded in the seventies and eighties, I rarely get the privilege of a ticket among the Reading fans. Being with them today was a rare treat and made the match for me. There were some great chants (especially The Premier League is upside down*) and some wonderfully quaint references to Oxford and Aldershot that momentarily reconnected me to my Elm Park routes. Thanks for having me, lads.
Paul Kirkwood

Regardless of what happens between now and the end of the season, I can safely say I saw Reading win in the league away from home this season and it was certainly worth the wait. A gritty but battling display led by Captain Marvel of the day Ivar Ingimarsson who looked acomplished and unfazed alongside Bikey at the challenge of Tuncay & Alves in attack. Coppell got his tactics spot on with the deployment of Long and Doyle who worked the Boro defence hard following their 120 minute drab with Sheffield United 3 days earlier. Only would Harper have shown the energy to break into the Middlesbrough penalty area in the 91st minute to send us loyal 400-500 fans into sheer madness and give us our 1st league in 8. Fitting it was Harper who I think has taken his game onto another level this season with the departure of Mr Sidwell. It's a much needed win which is helped by Newcastle losing in injury time, which leaves the relegation battle wide open and Reading fans easing the pressure on the side.
Mark, West Reading

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Reading are the innocents of the Premier League, the sort of side you would feel slightly guilty about letting out after dark. They arrived at the Riverside having lost eight league games in a row, which seemed a bit harsh. There should have been a statement in the House of Commons about how society had failed them. James Harper stroked in the only goal in second-half added time. Steve Coppell, Reading's manager, could have read the first chapter of a novel in the time that passed from Stephen Hunt's pass from the left setting up Harper to the ball nestling in the Middlesbrough net. The goal brought handstands and laughter from Reading's players and Liam Rosenior ran over to hug the coaching staff. Coppell just sipped a bottle of water, which has become the Premier League managers' No1 style accessory. Coppell sips his intellectually. His team defended with spirit, none more so than Rosenior and Andre Bikey, stabilising a side that is forever on the edge of disaster, dallying here, over-elaborating there.
David Hopps, The Guardian

James Harper's injury-time goal gave Reading victory and ended their run of eight straight Premier League defeats. Middlesbrough had the majority of the chances but Harper scored with an unchallenged strike from six yards out after a pass from Stephen Hunt... Reading began positively, embarking on a number of forays into Boro's half without posing any serious threat on goal. The Royals' best effort in the opening exchanges came when Liam Rosenior crossed accurately from the left only for Shane Long to direct his close-range header over the bar. Reading's finishing in recent times had been a cause for concern, with none of their strikers having scored in 2008. Hunt's miss, with his shot ballooning high over the bar, was symptomatic of their problems... Both teams demonstrated great levels of energy but there was a distinct lack of quality at times. However, Harper showed great composure in the closing moments racing on to Hunt's pass and calmly placing the ball past Schwarzer. But Coppell will be delighted with this victory that ends his side's dismal run and gives them renewed hope.