MATCH REPORT: 2005/2006 Season

Reading: Sidwell (44 mins), Kitson (76 mins), Doyle (88 mins).
Luton: -
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 19,478

Pos Team P Pts GD
1 READING 22 53 +30
2 Sheff Utd 22 49 +22
3 Leeds 21 39 +9
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Little (Oster, 90 mins), Sidwell, Harper, Convey (Hunt, 66 mins), Lita (Kitson, 62 mins), Doyle. Subs not used: Stack, Makin.
Luton: Beresford, Foley, Underwood, Heikkinen (Barnett, 69 mins), Perrett, Edwards, Robinson, Holmes, Morgan (Feeney, 83 mins), Vine (Howard, 73 mins), Showunmi. Subs not used: Brill, Nicholls.
Reading: -
Luton: -
Referee: M J Jones (Chester)

After the midweek League Cup distraction against Arsenal, Reading continued with their Championship form with yet another important victory. The Royals' twenty-first consecutive league game without defeat wasn't the most convincing victory of the season, despite the convincing scoreline. Luton Town, still strong play-off contenders, will feel hard done by after they had the better of long periods during the second half. Overall the game was a scrappy affair by Reading's standards this season, and it was only after Dave Kitson hit the second goal that Reading finally looked incapable of dropping points.

Chances for both sides were few and far between in the first half, with Sidwell giving the Royals the lead just before the break. There was a large element of luck with the goal, as Sidwell's long distance effort took a big deflection to end up in the opposite side of the net, with the keeper already diving the other direction. The visitors took the initiative in the second half as they looked for the equaliser but they were well contained by the Reading defence. Just when it looked like they might claw themselves back into the game, the Royals made it 2-0, perhaps against the run of play. Kitson made a big impact after coming off the bench, winning the free-kick which Little floated into the area for Kitson to head home in a pack of players.

The second goal saw Reading finally take command as they looked to increase their goal difference and Luton were forced to defend under Reading's best period of attack. Kevin Doyle got the third goal with a couple of minutes left on the clock when a fast move saw Little cross from the right and Doyle score from deep inside the Luton area.

Following report by John Wells:
Any fears that a defeat at Highbury in the Carling Cup earlier this week would dent the Royals' confidence were dispelled this afternoon as they chalked up another win at home to play off contenders Luton. Three - nil might have been a slightly flattering scoreline, but as the season progresses it is clear that Reading are currently the best team in the division. Even today when a few players were not at their best Reading were never really in danger of losing their grip on the game.

Sidwell forced a save from Beresford in the second minute when he produced a powerful downward header from Convey's corner, but neither side were able to take control in midfield in the early stages. In fact, most of the first half was a fairly scrappy affair. There were few chances. Hahnemann had to make a smart save towards half time and Convey saw his superb goal bound volley from a corner headed away. Lita, still apparently injured, was not sharp enough around the box to make anything of the half chances. Luton had managed to stifle the threat of Little and Convey very effectively for most of the half. Just before half time Sidwell's long range drive took wicked deflection on its way into the net, and Reading were somewhat surprisingly able to go in at half time one goal up.

Luton came out strongly in the second half and Hahnemann was forced to make another good save from a downward header. Sidwell had a shot deflected over, but Luton were posing a threat with string of crosses and corners. Worryingly Murty was absent on a couple of occasions when the Hatters seemed to have a spare man at the far post. Morgan forced a save from Hahmnemann from one such lapse. Convey seemed to anticipate his departure as Hunt prepared to come on, and had a bit of a tantrum, throwing down his gloves and water bottle. I don't think he should read too much into the change as I suspect Coppell was concerned about the number of crosses coming in from Edwards on Luton's right. Hunt was almost certainly brought on as a better defensive option to contain the wide man, although Bobby had not had one of his better games. Lita was also not at his best and Coppell was right to replace him with Kitson against a very big Town back four. It proved a master stroke.

With about fifteen minute to go, Little swung in a free kick which Kitson reached first and headed over the stranded Beresford into the empty net. That was the killer blow for a very game Luton. The away fans streamed out and Reading stroked the ball around until Doyle confidently converted a good Little cross into a goal with text-book header back across the goal into the far corner leaving Beresford grasping the air.

One issue was resolved in my mind today, and that is the best pairing up front is Doyle and Kitson. Not only do they compliment each other well, but Kitson looked to be back to his best today. Lita is undoubtedly a talented striker but he's not producing the goods at he moment. The Sidwell or Gunnarsson choice is a tougher call to make but I still think Gunarsson's passing gives him the edge.

Mike Newell gained further respect today, not only for his team's performance, but also shaking the hand of every Reading player as they left the field. (Mr Warnock please note the phenomenon known as sportsmanship!) Nobody associated with the club dare express the view that Reading are likely to go up, but who is going to stop them?


With fear of repetition another bloody brilliant result against a good Luton side. Sidwell could not have scored at a better time just before half time and I thought he had a good game though I'd still like to see Gunny Iceman in the starting line up somehow. Amongst our gang of faithful fans we are trying very hard not to start saying "when we go up..." and "just think next season".... it really is very difficult to keep your feet on the ground at present but we have to as do the players. There are so many games to play yet but we'll never get a better chance in the long history of the club to reach the top flight. I'll tell you something you could not have a better man than Steve Coppell to keep feet on the ground, he'd make a good funeral director with his dour comments, like after the game today reminding all of last years collapse after Xmas and how he's powerless to possibly preventing it happening again, tosh, a bit of reverse psychology me thinks. As far as I'm concerned he can say bugger all after very game if we carry on the way we are. A solid team performance today, back four so secure, midfield worked hard, tirelessly and only disappointment for me was Lita who continues to struggle, we looked much better with Kitson up front. I'm sure we're all pinching ourselves and simply staring for ages at the league table, but it really is true and we really are that far ahead. I'm now off back to the Jazz Club at the Madejski for a big party tonight and I think I'm going to get bolloxed!!! URRRZZZZ
Nick Newbury

If you were a Luton fan who was at this match you would not have understood this scoreline. Royals fans who were not there would have thought yet another easy victory. In truth it was a case of a bit of luck and then some very good finishing made by the most creative player on the pitch - Glen Little. Luton had lots of possession but failed to carve out any clear openings. Reading only looked like scoring from corners and the first half seemed to be heading to a goalless conclusion when Sidwell hit what looked a good shot. The deflection guaranteed a goal. We thought that the second half might see the real Reading, but it was Luton who had more energy, but lacked real quality. Kitson had a point to prove and certainly one of our main problems had been the inability to hold the ball up front. This is not Lita's strength and Doyle did seem a bit leg weary. Convey was not at his sparkling best which meant that the ball went back to Luton too often. A quality cross from Little which Kitson turned into the goal proved the decisive moment. A far post header by Doyle, again from Little's cross was the icing on the cake. Another good three points. Another clean sheet. Keep it going please!!!
Ken C

A fairly average performance & yet still a 3-0 win in the end. You'd probably say in these circumstances that Reading ground out the win more than anything else, with a few players looking more than a bit below par. However, it has to be said the free kick for the 2nd goal was well executed by Little & well finished by Kitson & the 3rd goal was very well made again by Little & very well finished by the ever impressive Doyle. If the overall performance of the team was a reaction to the Arsenal game, let's hope this has got it out of their system & if it has & we still got a 3-0 win out of it, more the better!
Caversham Royal

Fully agree with all the comments above and in the match reports. Reading were far from their best, we may have (just) deserved the points but 3-0 was flattering, yet what makes an interesting read is Luton's own web-site. Comments such as "Reading comfortably extended their unbeaten league run to 21 games as Luton's lack of attacking ideas failed to trouble the league-leaders" ... "Although Reading's opening goal had a slice of good fortune when Steve Sidwell's shot took a wicked deflection, Luton shot themselves in the foot when some sloppy defending gifted Dave Kitson his ninth goal of the season" ... "A succession of corners for Luton brought about a sustained period of pressure although the Hatters still couldn't find a way through a packed solid Reading defence." Bottom line is we were far from our sparkling best - which is not so surprising after the week we've had, but we still impressed a very determined and sporting opposition. I'll be supporting Luton in the match against Liverpool!
Crowthorne Seb

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