Match Report: 2009/2010 Season

16 September 2009: LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: -
Cardiff: Burke (58 mins).
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 16,687

Pos Team P Pts GD
17 Doncaster 7 7 -2
18 READING 7 6 -4
19 Swansea 7 6 -5
Reading: Federici, O'Dea, Bertrand, Pearce, Cummings, Howard, Matejovsky, Karacan (Kebe, 78), Sigurdsson, Hunt (Church, 57), Rasiak Subs not used: Tabb, Mills, Ingimarsson, Hamer, Cisse.
Cardiff: Marshall, Gerrard, Hudson, Kennedy, Burke, Whittingham, Ledley (Taiwo, 87), Matthews (Quinn, 32), McPhail (sent off 75), Chopra (Rae, 79), Bothroyd Subs not used: Enckelman, Gyepes, Magennis, Capaldi.
Reading: -
Cardiff: Ledley. Sent Off: McPhail (75 mins)
Ref: P Taylor (Hertfordshire).
Reading can feel with some justification that this defeat was not deserved. It was an enterprising performance from the Royals lacking only the crucial ingredient - a goal. Poor finishing, bad luck and good goalkeeping all contributed to the continuation of the Royals dismal home record. Noel Hunt should have opened the scoring as early as the first minute when Howard slipped him a perfect through ball, but his shot was well saved by Marshall. That was to be the story of the night for Reading.

For most of the first half Reading threatened to break through with some slick passing, but ultimately allowed themselves to be funnelled into the centre of a the tightly packed defence where their attacks were smothered. Cummings looked nervous and reluctant to get forward or take his man on, and throughout the first half Reading lacked width in attack. Matejovsky, after a couple of wayward passes, began to justify his selection helping to gain control of midfield. He looked very comfortable on the ball and very hard to dispossess. With Rasiak playing up front with Hunt, Reading were able to keep City on the back foot. City's best chance came just before half time but Chopra dragged his shot wide with only Federici to beat.

Reading tore into City straight for the kick off in the second half. In the space of ten minutes Rasiak, Howard and Matejovsky tested Marshall with good long range strikes on goal. Marshall equal to them on each occasion as Reading won several corners. Mysteriously Hunt was replaced by Church after fifty seven minutes and then completely against the run of play City took the lead. There was a hint of a push on O'Dea who missed the cross and Bertrand inexplicably fell over allowing Burke time to control the ball at the far post and hammer home from close range. Reading looked stunned for a few minutes and nearly went further behind as the marking went to pieces and Burke found himself with an even easier opportunity to score but made a complete mess of it. The next really good opportunity fell to Church who scuffed his shot and it trickled harmlessly past the far post.

With fifteen minutes left the referee had a rush of blood and sent off McPhail for a nasty late challenge on Karacan. This did Reading no favours at all as City simply retreated further into their shell and packed their defence. Karacan, playing a defensive midfield role became redundant and was replaced by Kebe to finally provide some width. Crosses flew in from both flanks but the quality was often poor and when it wasn't the City defenders were more determined than the Reading forwards and Marshall was protected. Pearce headed over near the end and he understandably held his head in dismay. The referee added five minutes but it could have been more to compensate from a staggering amount of time wasting - especially by Marshall, but I had a feeling the goal was not going to come. History came close to repeating itself as Federici went up for a corner in the last minute of stoppage time and drew a final save from Marshall with a well directed and spectacular overhead kick from the edge of the box. It gave the crowd a slight lift before they had to swallow the bitter pill of defeat yet again.

Brendan Rogers was upbeat about the performance, and Reading certainly are improving even if they are not winning. His selection was spot on tonight and the team played with flair and much more commitment than they have in recent games. I suspect he will stick with the same starting line up on Saturday. The next home game against Watford would be the perfect way to gain that vital first home win of the season.
John Wells

Another long and hard game to watch for Royals fans. Yes the urgency and tempo was far better from the team but the continued lack of width to our play and a cutting edge will see us struggle all season. Rodgers wants to play the ball on the deck and be patient and I admire that - much better than the long ball tactics of last year - however without natural width to turn and stretch the opposition we are left shooting from 25 yards and missing the goal on most occasions. Clearly Rodgers also does not know his best team - how Kebe continues to play I do not know - Tabb, Davies and Robson-Kanu - who all have performed well need to return and Ivar must step back into defence to provide a more solid foundation. Fingers crossed for the next 2 games - Peterborough and Watford are games we would expect to win.
Scott, Basingstoke Royal

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Reading boss Brendan Rodgers: "We always dwell on the positives at this club. The players don't dwell on that long run without a home win because it can change in a moment. A bit of luck can lead to one win and then you can go straight off on a winning run. The crowd can see what we are doing and we are not far away. I am trying to give a new identity to the group and asking them to show courage and pass the ball. We played some wonderful football but we need to be killers in the penalty area. We can dominate possession and we are only a matter of inches away from being very, very good."
BBC Sport