MATCH REPORT: 2005/2006 Season

Reading: Sidwell (11 mins, 71 mins), Sonko (32 mins), Kitson (51 mins, 76 mins pen.)
Cardiff: Jerome (62 mins)
Half Time: 2-0
Attendance: 22,061

Pos Team P Pts GD
1 READING 28 69 +44
2 Sheff Utd 27 59 +25
3 Leeds 27 51 +15
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Little (Oster 76), Sidwell, Harper, Convey (Hunt 72), Kitson (Long 76), Doyle. Subs Not Used: Stack, Gunnarsson.
Cardiff: Alexander, Weston (Darlington 82), Barker, Purse, Loovens, Koumas, Whitley, Ledley, Cooper (Ardley 58), Lee, Jerome. Subs Not Used: Margetson, Cox, Ricketts.
Reading: -
Cardiff: Alexander
Referee: R Olivier (W Midlands).

Just when you think things couldn't get much better, Reading turned on a performance of such quality and authority it makes me wonder how I even entertained the notion that Cardiff could sneak a point out of this fixture. The first half was impressive for the pace, power, and creativity of the Royals as they tore into promotion contenders City. In fact five-one flattered Cardiff, it could have been a lot more.

The first twenty minutes was breathtaking stuff. Doyle was bundled over in the area by Purse in the first minute, but the referee waved play on. Reading carved open the City defence on both flanks with Convey and Little pulling out all the stops. It was Hahnemann who was called upon to make the first save from Lee. Soon after, Reading took a deserved lead when Sidwell launched himself an a early cross from Little to send a powerful header past Alexander. Sidwell was pushing forward incessantly as Harper held the fort in the centre of midfield.

Reading dominated possession and were quicker to the ball all over the field, so it was no surprise when the extended their lead on thirty-two minutes. Doyle was fouled wide on the left and Shorey delivered a perfect cross for Sonko to head home with power and accuracy. There were noticeably fewer City fans mimicking the Reading fans' celebration this time! Alexander had his work cut out to keep City in the game saving well from Doyle and Kitson before half time. The Royals deserved their applause as they left the field, which is more than can be said for the worst referees assistant I've seen for while who gave several appalling offside decisions and failed to notice Loovens bring his arm up to block to cross right under his nose.

Cardiff looked a beaten side from the start of the half. Perhaps the strain of four games in eight days was affecting them more. Either way Reading took advantage when Little unlocked the City defence again, and Kiston scored almost apologetically after seeming to get his feet tangled up as Alexander was sprawled helpless on the ground. Alexander managed to get himself booked minutes later for bringing Doyle down after failing to dribble round the Reading forward outside the area. It was all too easy and Reading were playing fluid passing football. Confidence gave way to a degree of complacency and against the run of play Jerome pulled a goal back for City when his long range effort appeared to be deflected on its way past Hahnemann.

There were some uneasy moments as the goal revived City's spirits. It didn't last long. Shorey provided Sidwell with another perfect cross and he obliged by finishing with a firm header past Alexander. Five minute later Loovens handled again but this time a penalty was awarded. With many people willing Sidwell to complete his hat trick Kitson stepped up and almost burst the net with the spot kick. Sidwell's opportunity to add a third came near the end when Doyle played it into his path but his powerful strike thumped against the far upright. He deserved better but it didn't really matter.

It was great team performance but Harper, in my opinion, was clearly man of the match with his industry and commitment to the cause, but he often plays like that without acknowledgement. City fans deserve a mention for their humour in singing 'Are you watching Arsenal?' when five-one down - which was a reference to their visit to Highbury next week, not Reading's arrival in the Premiership next season! Oh, and by the way boys, there is more than one 'ginger w****r'. There are two, and they both bagged a brace! Perhaps they will think more carefully about who they choose to abuse next time.
John Wells


In 30 years I'm hard pressed to think of a more complete performance by a Reading side. Cardiff are by no means a bad side, eighth in the league just outside the play offs but today Reading made them look two leagues below them such was there dominance of this game. The football played by Reading is simple affective and a joy to watch. This was summed up by the first goal a rare Cardiff attack saved by Hanaman quick distribution to Convey who runs with purpose at the Cardiff defence a simple pass to the free Little on the right who delivers a sublime cross for the on rushing Sidwell to head home, the last of three Reading players queuing up to be on the end of the cross. All over the park Reading have players playing at the peak of there careers. In particular Glenn Little a journeyman pro who has never played at the highest level showing that experience skill and the ability to deliver quality crosses and not just pace can still be a part of the modern game. For me he typifies everything that's so good and enjoyable to watch in this Reading side. This team will go down as the finest ever in the club's history, enjoy it while it lasts.
Pete, Woodley

Wolves: Excellent performance. Well outclassed the opposition. Fully deserved scoreline.
Leicester: Fairly average performance - well contained by opposition. Scoreline flattering to Reading but just deserved all the points.
Derby: Ditto Liecester. Good gritty performance to ground out a point from behind. Demonstrated tanacity rather than brilliance.
Cardiff: Breathtaking. Superb come-back after the draw at Derby. Playing some of the best football we've seen all season. 5-1 scoreline flattered Cardiff! The most pleasing aspect of the Cardiff game was to see us totally dominate after a couple of below-par performances and 4 games in 8 days.
Crowthorne Seb

Ten marvelous points from twelve over the festive period has banished that hoodoo from same time last season when the it all went tits up for us. What a brilliant team and what an unbelievable season it's becoming. The fanatastic result against Wolves started it. The fat lady is still singing but she's approaching the end of her song. I'd play the youth team against West Brom in the cup and give the players a well earned break and come back fresh for the for the final push. Really weird following the team from the other side of the world and thanks to my mate big Bob and his texts you never miss a thing what ever time of day it is, when the phone bleeps and you open the text and it says won it's a brilliant feeling like a last minute winning goal being scored! Start preparing for that game when we clinch it becuase it is going to happen..... you beauty Royals!
Nick Newbury in Perth Oz

Great stuff! A slight wobble after Cardiff scored and got some belief back, but the 4th goal settled Reading again and finally killed their resolve. Keep it up! COME ON...
Caversham Royal

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