Match Report: 2011/2012 Season

19 November 2011: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Kebe (77 mins).
Cardiff City: Whittingham (2 mins), Hudson (70 mins).
Half Time: 0-1.

Attendance: 20,361

Pos Team P Pts GD
13 Leicester 16 22 +1
14 READING 17 21 0
15 Barnsley 17 21 -2
Reading: A Federici, K Gorkss, A Pearce, J Mills, S Cummings (M Manset, 74), J McAnuff, M Leigertwood, J Kebe, J Karacan, N Hunt, A Le Fondre (H Robson-Kanu, 88).
Subs not used: I Harte, M Andersen, S Church.
Cardiff City: D Marshall, A Taylor, K McNaughton, B Turner, M Hudson, P Whittingham, C Conway (A Gerrard, 89), D Cowie, A Gunnarsson, F Kiss (S McPhail, 81), K Miller.
Subs not used: J Mason, T Heaton, R Earnshaw.
Reading: Karacan.
Cardiff City: Hudson, Whittingham.
Ref: Darren Sheldrake.
As always, Cardiff City fans almost filled the away end of the Madejski Stadium and generated the sort of atmosphere which influences events on (and off!) the pitch. I'm not sure it worked in Reading's favour to wind up the away fans by replaying the goals from last season's away leg of the Championship Play-Off Semi-Final immediately before the kick-off. It was certainly a very lively opening. In the first minute the Reading defence backed off and allowed Conway to test Federici with a fierce strike from just outside the box and although Federici got behind it he was unable to hold on to the ball and then had to block a second attempt from Kiss. No sooner had regained possession they found themselves a goal behind as Kebe ran the ball straight into Whittingham some thirty yards out who simply hacked the ball goalwards catching a surprised Federici off his line and the ball looped into the top corner. It was a spectacular but somewhat lucky strike.

Reading were stunned but responded well and put City under immediate and intense pressure moving the ball forward quickly with purpose forcing a series of corners. With only Miller up front for City, Federici was always able to roll the ball out someone a Reading defender and build from the back. However a congested midfield often meant a long ball was required to reach Hunt and Le Fondre. City's central defenders were dominant in the air and nether reading striker saw much of the ball. Hunt was the livelier of the two and was prevented from getting a strike on goal by a good last ditch tackle and a good save from Marshall. An inexperienced referee and a very hesitant assistant missed what Leigertwood claimed to be a clear penalty when he was held when about to score with his head. Reading had two other appeals for penalties but looked more a case of ball to hand rather than the other way round. Kebe looked slightly better than he has recent games but still tended to hit the first defender with his crosses. Mills' surging run down the left resulted in a yellow card for Hudson, but Mills was looking much more confident going forward and his delivery from corners has improved. Federici punched away a cross from Whittingham but apart from that he had little to do for most of the half.

An aggressive run by Mills provided McAnuff the opportunity to cross in the fiftieth minute and Kebe slid the ball in from close range from an offside position. Some slick passing resulted in a great scoring opportunity for Karacan but although Marshall made a good save he should have scored and probably would have if he had kept the ball down. Kebe had the City defence back-peddling then somewhat embarrassingly fell over his own feet and a good opening was squandered. If Reading had scored during that spell I feel they may well have gone on to win. As Reading lost momentum City crept forward if only to relieve the pressure and undeservedly doubled their lead when Hudson was allowed to meet un challenged a good ball in from a free kick wide on the left. Still Reading did not lie down and pulled a goal back when Kebe got in front of Marshall to meet Le Fondre's cross and head in from close range. With thirteen minute left there time for an equaliser but City closed the game down well and almost added a third as gaps appeared at the back. Federici saved well and Gunnarsson missed a good chance. With last throw of the dice Federici went up for a corner but there was no last minute equaliser as in the corresponding fixture in 2008.

Many fans are prediciting a mid table finish for the Royals this season and they may well be right, but I have yet to see a team occupying a play-off position come to the Madeski Stadium and dominate possesion. The challenge for Brian McDermott, apart from the obvious need to get his team to score more goals, is to motivate his team as they continue to hover in mid table. So far he has always remained positive and as long as that continues the Royals may still have a good season.
John Wells

Don't know what to make of it. Performance wasn't poor but we just don't have the quality in delivery to feed any of our strikers. Dying for some creativity in midfield, Jem shows passion but has a poor final ball, and i don't even know what we can say about ledge at the moment. Really off the ball. Would be interested to see one of them being dropped for maybe Ian Harte. Could perform a Robbie Savage-esque role like at Derby, providing good passes and good balls, operating quite defensively as well. Shame it seemed as if the ref did spoil the game a lot today. Got to do better.

I think Kebe probably was offside after the flick on but that lino was just useless. Cardiff were nothing special but solid and to took their chances. The first goal was a fluke but the second was just our really poor defending. We never seem to play well against teams that work hard and close us down. We stand off players but we seem to always have difficultly getting the ball under control and passing. We missed a couple of great chances, the best was probably Karacan who was 1 on 1 and blasted the ball straight at the keeper, who probably couldn't believe his luck. I'd have been disappointed with a draw and thought we played well enough to win it, to lose is very annoying.

Lebe created today, McAnuff didnt out wide, but worked some stuff well through the middle. They both had good seasons last year, so you can see why we didnt want to spend in that area, especially with HRK coming through who WAS looking to have come on alot. Taylor is showing signs at exeter too, so signing a long term creative midfielder now would set him back a long while, and mean a total shift in system. I wouldn't tear the team apart though, after what was a good, and unlucky performance today. But I've no doubt if this continues, we'll invest in January, in the middle/out wide, and/or up front.

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Cardiff City kept up the pressure on the Championship's top three with a hard-working triumph at Reading. Peter Whittingham's sublime 35-yard chip beat Reading keeper Adam Federici to give Cardiff a second-minute lead. Reading's Jimmy Kebe had a goal ruled out for offside before captain Mark Hudson nudged in Cardiff's second from Whittingham's driven free-kick. Kebe's close-range header gave Reading hope but fourth-placed Cardiff held on for their third successive win.

Reading manager Brian McDermott will be slightly concerned about his side's stuttering form as they have won only once in their last six games. But playmaker Whittingham was the architect as the Bluebirds took revenge on Reading for last season's play-off semi-final defeat. The former England Under-21 international set the tone with a stunning seventh goal of the season inside the opening two minutes before his sixth assist this term set up Hudson's clincher. In-form Cardiff could have opened the scoring sooner when Craig Conway stung the hands of Federici with a fierce long-range drive. But Whittingham took a different approach when Reading failed to clear as his beautiful first-time effort flew over a stranded Federici to give Cardiff the lead for an unparalleled 13th time this season. Whittingham is one of only two surviving members of Cardiff's team from last season's play-off disappointment, such was manager Malky Mackay's rebuilding job following Dave Jones' departure. Reading rallied and had two penalty appeals rejected by referee Darren Sheldrake before Noel Hunt's effort was deflected wide for a corner by Cardiff centre-back Ben Turner.

Hunt continued to be the hosts' biggest threat as the Irish striker had a shot saved by Cardiff keeper David Marshall and then went close with a header from Jobi McAnuff's corner. Reading thought they had levelled 10 minutes into the second half when Kebe ghosted in at the back post to tap home McAnuff's floated cross, but the assistant referee's flag cut the celebrations short. The Royals dominated the initial stages of the second period and Cardiff had recalled keeper Marshall to thank for remaining ahead as Jem Karacan's run and shot was pushed wide by the Scotland international. And the visitors made Reading pay for wasting chances as Whittingham's superb free-kick found the unmarked Hudson at the near post and the centre-back guided his shot past Federici. Kebe's late consolation from Karacan's cross was too little too late for Reading who slumped to their first home defeat since 10 September.

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