MATCH REPORT: 2006/2007 Season

9 January 2007: FA CUP ROUND 3
Reading: Lita (27 mins), Long (37 mins), Sodje (55 mins).
Burnley: Akinbiyi (69 mins), O'Connor (90 mins).
Half Time: 2-0
Attendance: 11,514

Pos Team P Pts GD
8 Everton 22 31 +6
9 READING 22 30 0
10 Man City 22 29 -6
Reading: Federici, De la Cruz, Sodje, Ingimarsson (Pearce 74), Golbourne, Ki-Hyeon, Oster, Bikey, Convey, Lita (Kitson 60), Long. Subs Not Used: Hahnemann, Hunt, Harper.
Burnley: Jensen, Thomas, McGreal, Foster, Harley, James O'Connor, Noel-Williams (Lafferty 70), McCann, Elliott (Garreth O'Connor 84), Jones (Mahon 70), Akinbiyi. Subs Not Used: Branch, Spicer.
Reading: Bikey
Burnley: McGreal
Ref: R Styles (Hampshire).
Tonight's game was a reminder of what Reading have left behind following promotion to the Premiership. With the exception of Lita and Ingimarsson, there were no current first choice players in the starting eleven, and yet the Royals had little difficulty in disposing of a mid table Championship side. The quality of the play was variable throughout, and although the Reading back four looked very shaky at times, there was still enough quality in their play, and crucially, in their finishing to secure the victory. In spite of a couple of late goals form Burnley the outcome was never in doubt. Had Burnley made more of their chances, especially in the first half, it might have been a different story.

Reading started confidently with Oster in particular darting about and keeping Reading moving smoothly in midfield. Convey was given a good early ball from Long and struck a good shot against the post in the fourth minute. De La Cruz and Sodje were alarmingly drawn out of position in the opening twenty minutes and it took a double save with his legs by debutant Federici kept the scores level. Marking was poor and huge gaps were appearing in Reading's defence.

On twenty seven minutes Lita produced a finish of Premiership quality when he fired unerringly into the bottom left hand corner from just outside the area. A simple goal perfectly executed. With little reaction from Burnley, ten minutes later Reading increased their lead with an amazing finish from Long. Running onto a through ball Long's first touch took him past the 'keeper, and further away from goal. From near the goal line, just inside the penalty area, his best option appeared to be to get the ball under control and look to pick someone with a cross. Instead, showing great confidence and tremendous skill, he surprised everyone by driving the ball into the net from an incredibly tight angle.

The result was settled ten minutes into the second half when Goldbourne's cross was met with a determined leap and powerful header at the far post by Sodje. The game then gradually began to understandably deteriorate. Kitson was given a chance to begin the long process of easing himself back into contention for a first team place for the last thirty minutes and he did show some nice touches but Lita is clearly not going to relinquish his spot on current form. Federici had a good game overall but a couple of errors contributed to both Burnley goals. First he came off his line and failed to reach the ball giving Akinbiyi the chance to lob the ball over him into the net, and when it was too late to matter he failed to deal with a cross and Burnley were able to add a second.

On this showing there are not any players likely to dislodge any member of the current first team. However, Oster looked to have a real appetite for his midfield role and Bikey looked solid. Goldbourne is not too far away from being a very good player. Some of his passing was very good although he was not as consistent in this department as he needs to be to play Premiership football. Defensively he was very aware and he covered the ground quickly when he needed to. I can appreciate the reasons for Coppell's policy of playing the same team in the next round of the Cup, but if he is at all serious about winning at St. James' Park he would need a stronger back four than the one he fielded tonight.

Reading went through to round four of the FA Cup, to meet Birmingham City or Newcastle United, after a 3-2 home victory against Burnley. The Royals fielded a mixture of first team and fringe players with Federici and Golbourne making starts. Meanwhile there was more excellent news for Reading with Convey returning to action and playing a full ninety minutes as well as showing plenty of his old self. Dave Kitson also made his return from injury, coming off the bench to play the last thirty minutes. At that stage of the game Reading were holding onto their lead and Kitson didn't get much action up front - but he was running around well and played a couple of good balls to show he's ready for league action.

Adam Federici was man of the match with an excellent Reading debut making plenty of saves throughout the game and showing some good distribution. Without his contribution there would have been a very different scoreline. Reading's weakened defence of De la Cruz, Sodje, Ingimarsson and Golbourne struggled at times and Federici was called on to make two important first half stops and a string of saves in the second half including some great reactions from close range. Convey and Bikey had good games but Seol and Oster were quiet in midfield.

Despite Burnley's chances and big contribution it was Reading that controlled the opening hour of the game to carve out a three goal lead and put the game out of the visitors reach. Convey hit the post early on after Long played him through and moments later Long flicked on to Leroy Lita who finished with an excellent strike. Ten minutes later and Shane Long scored another superb goal after taking the ball wide and firing it home from the tightest of angles.

Although Reading were poor in defence we were looking very good coming forward. After half time Golbourne, also making his first start, crossed from the left and Sodje headed home. At 3-0 up Reading relaxed, and Burnley pulled back a deserved goal for their efforts with Federici being lobbed as he come out to the edge of his area. Burnley scored the last goal of the game, making it 3-2 in injury time, which probably made it a fair reflection of the night's play.


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