MATCH REPORT: 2005/2006 Season

Reading: Oatway (own goal, 27 mins), Kitson (pen 51 mins, 71 mins, 90 mins), Hunt (76 mins).
Brighton: Kazim-Richards (84 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 18,546

Pos Team P Pts GD
1 READING 23 56 +34
2 Sheff Utd 23 52 +25
3 Watford 23 39 +11
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Little (Oster, 79 mins), Sidwell, Harper (Gunnarsson, 73 mins), Convey, Doyle (Hunt, 73 mins), Kitson. Subs Not Used: Stack, Makin.
Brighton: Blayney, Hart, Reid (Robinson, 65 mins), Butters, El-Abd, Gary Elphick, Carole (Kazim-Richards, 54 mins), Frutos, Hammond, Oatway, Knight (Tommy Elphick, 73 mins). Subs Not Used: Nicolas, Chaigneau.
Reading: Shorey
Brighton: Gary Elphick, Hammond, Knight. Sent Off: Gary Elphick (48 mins, second yellow).
Referee: P Taylor (Hertfordshire).

Reading celebrated the half way stage of the season by clocking up their seventh straight league victory to go a massive 17 points clear of third place. The Royals' twenty-second league game undefeated was business as usual as Brighton were soundly beaten by an impressive second half display. Steve Coppell scored a clear tactical victory over visiting manager ex-Royals boss Mark McGhee. Although the first half wasn't a dazzling display of football from Reading, we were in clear control as Brighton were continually frustrated coming forward. The visitors couldn't break into the final third at all and were restricted to a few long range efforts. A series of crunching tackles rightly earnt yellow cards and it was clear they weren't going to finish the game with eleven players. Reading moved ahead midway through the first half when Little did all the hard work to cut into the area on the right. His cross, which was heading away from goal, was somehow turned into his own net by Brighton's Oatway.

The second half saw Kitson continue to cause problems for Brighton, and as he cut through to run on goal he went down to earn Elphick a second yellow. Moments later Kitson was taken down again, this time inside the area, and he dispatched the penalty with style into the bottom corner of the net. The sending off and the second goal signalled the end for Brighton. It was three on seventy minutes when Kitson headed home his second. The fourth goal, five minutes later, was a beautifully worked goal. Substitute Gunnarsson playing a great cross field ball, Kitson nearly met the cross from the left, but it passed through to Hunt who met the cross with his head. Marcus Hahnemann must have been getting cold at the other end but was woken up on 83 minutes to pick the ball out of his net when a superb long range effort, after a great run, gave the Brighton fans something to celebrate at last. Reading's four goal margin was restored with the last play of the game when Sidwell's ball found Kitson who claimed his hat-trick, despite Hunt hammering the ball into the top of the net on the line.

Following report by John Wells:
Reading romped to a comfortable five goal win over struggling Brighton to go seventeen points clear of third placed Watford. The gulf in class was truly reflected in the scoreline, and Albion deserved their hammering for their negative approach. Mark McGhee, as always, rose to the bait as he was taunted by the home fans, although he was spared any significant verbal abuse until the second half. His post match rant was a bit sad, and surely sets him up for more stick in the unlikely event that he ever brings a team back to the Madejski.

Brighton signalled their intention when Elphick was booked for a cynical challenge in the second minute. Playing with Leon Knight as a lone striker in a 4-5-1, Brighton clattered into Reading players at every opportunity, often after the ball had departed. More bookings followed as Brighton's tactics, and a fussy referee, put pay to any chance of a decent game of football. The game was saved by a brilliant piece of individual skill from Glen Little. Somehow the big man wriggled past his man on the goal line just outside the area and drove in a low cross which was difficult to defend, and Oatway was the unlucky defender to get the touch which sent the ball trickling over the line. Reading produced some good crosses which no-one seemed to anticipate and Brighton were allowed to clear. Apart from that, there was a nothing much to shout about in the second half. It was laughable how Knight was expected to take on Sonko single-handed - especially in the air!

The game came to life when Elphick was finally sent off for yet another cynical foul (he could have easily have gone sooner in my opinion) early in the second half. McGhee's blood pressure rocketed even further when Kitson went down like a tree and was awarded a penalty which he smacked with some venom into the net. The flood gates opened as Reading tore into ten man Albion, who to their credit decided to play some football at last. Reading squandered several good openings with delayed passes a lack of vision but still managed to pile on the agony for McGhee and the Albion fans. Doyle missed a sitter before Kitson added a third goal with a header after Nicky Shorey's long range effort was deflected upwards.

Coppell them wound up Hunt and sent him on for Doyle. The little man buzzed around and made it four when he popped up at the far post to get meet an excellent cross from Shorey with a diving header. The goal signalled a mass exodus of Albion fans which was the perfect cue for the Royals fans to return their earlier taunt of "worst support we've ever seen".

Sidwell, having had a really good game revealed his Achilles' heel with a dreadful square ball which was cut out on the half way line and allowed Brighton to score a consolation goal. It was easily the best goal of the game as Kasim-Richard unleashed a great strike from 30 yards which caught Hahnemann dozing as flew into the net. He was as surprised as everyone else I suppose that Albion had managed a strike on target. The scoring was completed by Kitson, although Hunt almost stole his hat trick goal on the line, with looping header.

The referee deserves a mention for failing completely to come to terms with the notion of playing the advantage law. On several occasions he waited to see if a team lost the advantage when a foul was committed, and when they were clearly going to benefit from playing on, he brought play back for a free kick. The worst example was when Sidwell was denied a clear scoring opportunity by one such ludicrous decision. Plonker! He wasn't all bad though - he did manage to curb Albion's violent tendencies eventually. Talking of violent tendencies, we're away to Millwall next week., so expect more of the same with less protection from the referee. Still, I can't see us losing there unpleasant though it may be.


I thought today (Saturday) was absolutely marvellous. Kitson would have to be man of the match not just because of his hat-trick his general play was good. Everbody played well and Little and Convey were certainly at the top of their game today. Their goal was nothing but a consolation but it was a good strike. I did not see Kitson 3rd because I had just that second gone. Bring on the Premiership!
Dan the Man, North Stand, Age 9

In truth the game probably turned a lot with the sending off. If that hadn't happened, things would certainly have been a lot closer. However, it was good to see Reading take full advantage of the extra space created by their opponents having a man less, to ease to a comfortable win. Being 17 points clear of third at this stage is an excellent achievement. Keep it up! COME ON...
Caversham Royal

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