MATCH REPORT: 2005/2006 Season

Reading: Doyle (1 mins, 90 mins).
Luton Town: Vine (20 mins, 26 mins), Morgan (51 mins).
Half Time: 2-1
Attendance: 8,705

Pos Team P Pts GD
1 READING 35 83 +52
2 Sheff Utd 34 71 +27
3 Leeds 33 62 +20
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Shorey, Oster (Lita 79), Gunnarsson, Harper, Convey (Hunt 64), Kitson, Doyle. Subs Not Used: Halls, Stack, Makin.
Luton Town: Beresford, Foley, Davis (Holmes 81), Heikkinen, Barnett, Morgan (Showunmi 83), Brkovic, Nicholls, Edwards, Howard, Vine (Feeney 80). Subs Not Used: Perrett, Brill.
Reading: Doyle, Kitson, Oster, Shorey.
Luton Town: Vine, Beresford.
Referee: K Wright (Cambridgeshire).

Reading's amazing run of 33 league games without defeat finally came to an end against an impressive Luton Town. The Royals' run started after the opening day defeat against Plymouth Argyle in August 2005, and Luton Town became the only home side this season to beat Reading on their travels. There could be no complaints about the final result as Reading were shocked into defeat by a well prepared and determined home side. Luton gave Reading no room to play their usual football and were quick to close every ball down, leaving Reading with few opportunities to get into their game. It was a like a role reversal from previous games this season and the players must have been stunned to see themselves on the end of a brutal Luton attack. The home side were continually dangerous and made chance after chance - Reading were lucky to go in just a goal behind at the break.

The reason for defeat was simply a rarely superior opposition on the night. However, there was no doubt that Reading missed Glen Little and Steve Sidwell who were both rested. Oster and Gunnarsson couldn't be faulted for effort but Reading's midfield was sadly lacking and our usual creative play seemed to be missing. It's been a tough season for Reading and it must have been hard work grinding out result after result to continue the undefeated run. It had to end at some point and at least it was to a deserving side. It all looked so promising for Reading early on - Kevin Doyle's opening goal within the opening twenty seconds put Reading as firm favouries to march to another win. Right from kick-off Reading worked forward and with only a single Luton touch inbetween, Doyle broke into the area on the left. This finish was spot on as the keeper came out, Doyle shot across him into the far bottom corner of the net.

Luton were quickly back into the game. A good passing move resulted in the equaliser on twenty minutes. It was the kind of football we're used to seeing this season - just not from the opposition. There were some question marks over the defence when the second goal went in just six minutes later. Marcus Hanemann would have been disappointed after charging off his line when he should have let Sonko deal with it, but Luton were cutting through with ease. Luton could have increased their lead before the break when the ball presented itself to their striker just a few yards out and with a seemingly straight forward finish. The ball smashed against the crossbar with Hahnemann beaten as Reading held on. Reading were creating little down the other end but Doyle should have picked up a free-kick on the edge of the area, or perhaps even a penalty when he was taken down after looking favourite to run through and probably put Reading level.

Despite the half-time deficit we still fancied Reading to come good in the second half as we've seen so many times this season - but instead, Luton continued where they'd left off. The decisive goal came from the boot of former Reading player Dean Morgan, six minutes into the second half. Morgan ran wide across the defence and into the middle before driving his shot sweetly into the bottom corner leaving Marcus stationary in the middle. Luton had the game won and now concentrated on denying Reading any space to start playing football. Tackles were fast, effective and fair, and for once Reading were short of ideas.

Convey hadn't had much impact and the introduction of Hunt seemed a good idea. Oster had managed a couple of decent crosses in the first half but was also being played out of the game as Coppell replaced him with Lita as we threw everything into attack. Reading started to enjoy more possession but struggled with a way through. It seemed unlikely we could get back into the game until the last minute. Hunt did very well on the right to shrug off a couple of players, before twisting and turning and delivering a perfect cross. Doyle sneaked in front of Kitson and headed home to make it 3-2 to set up an interesting few minutes of injury time. Deep in injury time Hahnemann ran the length of the pitch as Reading threw everything at it looking to scramble an equaliser. However, we couldn't find the goal to continue the run, and if we had it wouldn't have been a fair outcome. There's now an eight day gap before Reading face Preston - current holders of the longest unbeaten run in the Championship.


All good things come to an end and so does our magnificent run of 33 games undefeated , the like of which we'll probably never see again. This tremendous team does not become bad overnight and we simply had an off night. I thought we looked tired and there may be a weak argument that blames Sky for giving us this game so soon after the big Sheff Utd game. I'm certainly not going to question Coppell's decision to rest Sidwell and Little but we did look unbalanced and not the same side without these two key players. Maybe with the run now behind us we can regroup and come back stronger and no test will be harder than Preston at home next game yet with three of our next four games at home we have a glorious chance to seal promotion by mid March, which I think we will do with ease. Well played Luton, they thoroughly deserved their win and played some good football. Just a weird feeling watching a defeat, we've been spoilt, but don't take anything away or forget from what's gone before this season. Roll on next Saturday... URZ
Nick Newbury

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