MATCH REPORT: 2006/2007 Season

10 February 2007: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: Sidwell (16 mins, 90 mins).
Aston Villa: -
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 24,122

Pos Team P Pts GD
5 Bolton 26 44 +3
6 READING 27 43 +7
7 Portsmouth 27 41 +10
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Bikey, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Little (Oster 77 mins), Harper, Sidwell, Hunt, Lita, Long (Kitson 62 mins). Subs not used: Federici, De la Cruz, Duberry.
Aston Villa: Sorensen, Bardsley, Mellberg, Cahill, Barry, Agbonlahor (Berger 75 mins), McCann, Petrov, Maloney, Carew, Young (Davis 88 mins). Subs not used: Taylor, Laursen, Ridgewell.
Reading: Bikey, Harper.
Aston Villa: Young.
Ref: M Clattenburg (Tyne and Wear).
A devastating spell of attacking play mid way through the first half gave Reading a richly deserved lead, and had they made more of their opportunities would have put the result beyond doubt before half time. In the end Royals fans had to wait anxiously until the last minute for confirmation of yet another fine victory. In an opening spell when Reading were rampant, Villa were simply unable to contain them. Little was turning and twisting and causing havoc down the right, Hunt was probing down the left and Lita and Long were snapping at the heels of Villa's back four. Sidwell and Harper were in complete control in midfield. Reading's passing was sharp and incisive, notably Shorey was hitting perfect passes up to Lita and Long who in turn were showing an excellent first touch to retain possession.

The first goal came on sixteen minutes when Hunt whipped in a corner to the near post which Sidwell met with a glancing header past Sorenson. Almost immediately afterwards Lita had a thumping header saved by Sorenson when he got on the end of an excellent cross from Little. Reading swarmed all over Villa and Little was opening up their defence every time he received the ball. It was breathtaking to watch but as the pressure subsided and Villa began to get back into the game Royals fans were left with the nagging doubt about living to regret missed opportunities. On the half hour Hahnemann had to produce an acrobatic save to retain Reading's slender lead. The physical battle between Carew and Bikey was developing into one of the key features of the game. Carew was subtle in his movement but less so with his challenges and Bikey handled him well, being only occasionally provoked into a rash challenge.

Early in the second half Villa were pushing forward helped and encouraged by some very sloppy passing from Reading. Even Shorey's passes were going astray. Although the quality of Reading's play deteriorated their organisation and work rate was still first class and for all their possession Villa actually created very few opportunities. The most anxious moment came when Young's deflected shot bounced against the post with Hahnemann beaten. Oster and Kitson had come on for Little and Long and freshened things up at the right time. As the game entered the closing stages Reading looked likely to catch Villa on the break. In one attack which saw Reading outnumber Villa at the back Lita's touch let him down and Sorenson saved. The icing on the cake came in the final minutes when Sidwell carried the ball towards the Villa defence and played a perfect one-two with Kitson and steered the ball inside the far post. The goal epitomised Reading's play since Christmas. From the kick off today there was swagger about their play. I can remember how jittery they looked on the first day of the season. Now they look as if they belong in the Premiership.

Banish all thoughts of relegation and start looking through the fixture list to see where Reading can pick up points in their campaign for a place in Europe. Today even Coppell did not bother with his customary denial of Reading's chances of qualifying.
John Wells

What a great game, I thought for twenty minutes in the first half we played as well as I can ever remember, and really could have been two or three up at half time. Villa had a good go in the second half but Sidwell capped off a magnificent performance with a wonderful winning goal. Glenda Little aka Stan Mathews, how well is he playing at present? Every time he gets the ball you feel something is going to happen and Glen as proved to himself and others he is more than comfortable at this level. Must mention Bikey against Carew, both players giving everything and playing hard and fair. Bikey may not be the greatest centre back but the lad should be immensely proud of himself tonight for sticking to his task against the big Carew and probably having his best game in his life. Both players deserve great credit and the way they embraced at the final whistle was a great example for all to see. Onwards to Old Trafford next Saturday, I learnt a long time ago not to question anything Sir Steve "God" Coppell does but I would urge him ( as if he's going to listen to me) to play his strongest side whatever that may be next week. Let's have a real go at Man U, because we may never have another chance like this with a club so high on confidence it's totally infectious to all involved with it. If we play like we did in the first half today we can do it, a draw and back to the Mad Stad would do nicely, oh happy happy days....UURRRZZZ
Nick Newbury

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