Match Report: 2009/2010 Season

11 August 2009: LEAGUE CUP ROUND 1
Reading: Mooney (6, 77), Bignall (7, 9), Sigurdsson (27).
Burton: Phillips (59)
Half Time: 4-0
Attendance: 5,893

Pos Team P Pts GD
18 Nottm Forest 1 1 +0
19 READING 1 1 +0
20 Sheff Utd 1 1 +0
Reading: Hamer, Rosenior, Mills, Pearce, Armstrong, Harper, Matejovsky, Sigurdsson, Henry, Mooney, Bignall (Noel Hunt, 61) Subs not used: Andersen, Cisse, Tabb, Kebe, Davies.
Burton: Poole, Corbett, Austin, Branston, Boertien, Penn, Simpson, McGrath, Maghoma, Walker (Phillips, 46), Pearson. Subs not used: Redmond, Stride, Knowles, James, Edworthy.
Reading: -
Burton: Simpson.
Ref: G L Ward
Reading coasted into the second round of the Carling Cup against an Albion still finding their feet in the Football League. The outcome was decided within the nine minutes of the kick off as Reading raced into a three goal lead. Rosenior almost gifted Albion an early lead with a careless chested back pass with an Albion forward lurking. Thankfully it was scrambled away. Then Henry issued a warning when he surged through midfield and shot from distance. Mooney set the Royals on their way with a slick exchange of passes with Sigurdsson and a strike of devastating power from a tight angle. A minute later Matejovsky floated ball over the Albion defence and Bignall's pace took him past him marker.He rode a challenge, and then, showing remarkable composure, drew the 'keeper before sliding the ball into the net. The third goal was gift from Albion as confusion between the 'keeper and his defence ended with the ball running to Bignall who again kept his head and rolled the ball into an empty net. The game was over by half time following the most spectacular goal of the evening from Sigurdsson who picked up the ball just inside the Albion half, and finding himself in space took the ball forward a couple of paces, looked up, and from well over thirty yards, struck the ball sweetly in off the post.

Having missed the opening game of the season I had no idea what to expect from this game, but even with a squad depleted by international call-ups for eight players Reading were able to field a strong looking side including Harper, Matejovsky, and a back four which included new signing Mills, Armstrong finally recovered from his recent injury, and Pearce looking assured in his role as captain. The quality of passing stands out as the most obvious difference from last season. There were far fewer long high balls. Greater care was taken with the ball, and crucial to this change was the willingness of midfield players to find space a seek the ball. which was matched by the incisive and accurate passing from the back four who all looked comfortable in possession. Rodgers has already instilled in his players the need to retain possession even if it did mean passing back and sideways until the right opportunity to penetrate presented itself. It remains to be seen if it will work against the likes of Newcastle, but we don't have long to wait to find that out and I am sufficiently intrigued to make the long trip up there to find out.

Albion deserve some credit for remaining positive and came out for the second half looking to keep the score respectable. Their reward came on fifty nine minutes with a deflected shot which left Hamer, who had made a couple of good saves, off balance as the ball found the far corner of the net. The Royals restored their four goal advantage in the seventy seventh minute when Sigurdsson found substitute Noel Hunt with a through ball. Hunt's crisp strike was well saved by Poole but the ball ran away from him and Mooney won the race for the lose ball to grab his second. I last saw Mooney around this time last year in the same competition. He looked a very raw talent then, always looking for a long ball over the top to chase, but this evening he looked a far better all round player and certainly capable of breaking into the team.

A lot of work has gone into developing this young squad and it is exciting prospect to see how they will fare this season. I am sure Ingimarsson and Gunarsson will have a role to play in steadying the ship at some point but there are other experienced players who have moved on who will not be missed. There are too many strong teams in the Championship to expect promotion this year but if Rodgers can stick to his principles and he is allowed time to get to know his squad and rebuild without the burden of expectations of instant success, we could ultimately be rewarded with a very successful team.
John Wells


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