MATCH REPORT: 2008/2009 Season

Reading: -
Bristol City: Adebola (26 mins), Skuse (48 mins).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 22,462

Pos Team P Pts GD
1 Wolves 34 64 +21
2 Birmingham 33 60 +11
3 READING 32 59 +30
4 Bristol C 34 53 +7
Reading: Federici, Rosenior, Pearce (Noel Hunt 81), Duberry, Armstrong, Kebe, Cisse (Matejovsky 60), Harper (Gunnarsson 59), Stephen Hunt, Doyle, Lita. Subs Not Used: Hahnemann, Tabb.
Bristol City: Basso, Orr, Carey, Fontaine, McAllister, Sproule (Murray 75), Johnson, Skuse (Iriekpen 82), McIndoe, Williams, Adebola (John 68). Subs Not Used: Henderson, Maynard.
Reading: Harper.
Bristol City: Williams.
Ref: Andy Penn (W Midlands).
Roared on from the start by their huge contingent of travelling fans Bristol City produced an impressive display against a below par Royals. City were superior in every department for the entire first half as Reading were overrun in midfield and the City centre backs won everything in the air. Ironically the goal their play deserved came from a free kick which should never have been awarded. Armstrong won the ball cleanly out near the touchline but the referees assistant flagged for foul. Adebola was the obvious threat from the set piece and yet remarkably he was not picked up at the far post and was able to nod the ball past Federici. A scrappy goal from a free kick just after the break put City two up and they never looked likely to surrender their lead to a Reading side lacking the guile to break down their resolute defence. City have crept up the table with a run of good results and now find themselves in fourth place. It is also worth noting that they, along with Wolves, now have the best away record in the Championship. There was nothing particularly brilliant about their performance but their passing was sharp, their movement was good and they were quick to make a challenge all over the pitch. They played the way the Royals were playing in the first half of the season when everyone was acclaiming them as the best team in the league.

In spite of City's dominance it was Reading that came close to scoring first when Armstrong found space the box and hit the post with a low shot across the 'keeper. In fact for all their possession Reading ultimately produced more strikes on goal. Lita missed a hat trick of chances. Kebe pulled a ball back to him immediately after City's opener but his effort was weak and straight at Basso. The second miss was right in front of the City fans who were already taking great delight on taunting their former striker. After the ball had pinged around the City box the ball fell at his feet and he leant back and lashed it over the bar. To complete a miserable day he missed a good chance following a great run from Matejovsky who beat three players before sliding a perfect ball in to his feet. He looked distinctly uncomfortable with ball at his feet and was unable to make room for a shot.

Harper and Cisse made way for Gunnarsson and Matejovsky on the hour allowing Reading to take control of midfield but by them City were content to soak up the pressure and play out time in the knowledge Reading did not have the cutting edge to break them down. Matejovsky was the only ray of hope from an otherwise dismal performance. He produced a couple of defence-splitting passes worthy of the Premier League. He must be wondering why he is not in the starting eleven.There was no lack of effort, but the quality of passing and finishing was more worrying than the result. Kebe, Rosenior and Stephen Hunt were particularly guilty of squandering possession, but that has been a problem for several games now. Only Duberry and Armstrong seemed to have an appetite for the battle today and I felt sorry for them - they deserved better. Doyle looked to have a reasonable claim for a penalty and the referee made some appalling decisions over corners but if Reading are serious about automatic promotion they need to look to their own performance to put things right. As Steve Coppell is always quick to point out, it is the performance that matters, and this was a poor performance.
John Wells

What on earth is going on ? We may as well just roll over, wave a big white flag in the air and say stuff promotion, let's just chuck away a return to the Premier League, because based on this pathetic gutless, spineless performance against a spirited and far better Bristol City we're going absolutely nowhere. No point mentioning any of our players as they are a team and should play as one , in the main they were all pathetic today and should all hang their heads in shame when they pick up their fat wage packets . Why in Gods name SC did not change things after recent games , especially the midfield I've not a clue. Has he run out of ideas ? Is he that stubborn ? Have you ever seen so many glum faces after the game and so many fans so fed up and frustrated ? Can't see where the next goal is coming from for the life of me. Just what do they do during training all week ?? Bugger all based on this showing.
Nick Newbury

Very poor today but I'm not surprised - this has been coming since the turn of the year. Here's some observations: Last season we didn't improve the squad in January and got relegated. This season the league is here for the taking but we haven't improved the squad in any significant way in Jnauary. See the theme developing here? That decision like our performance today is pathetic. Here's another significant point, 13 minutes before half time, Wally got out of the rabbit hutch and stood briefly in the technical area before sitting down again. I pay to watch this rubbish, I expect more from those who are paid to watch it. This summed up the display - no fire, no passion, no guts. We've lacked players in two key areas - a big number nine and an iron man in midfield (we've never replaced Sidwell). Today a big number nine did it for us, but sadly he was wearing red. Sir JM wants to sell the club, that will only happen if we get in the Prem, and attempting to limp there is a high risk strategy. Lack of investment to push on will be seen to be the root cause of what happened to us last season and this. We can look today at some chances missed but let's be honest we deserved nothing and if we can't beat a limited team like BCFC at home, we may as well give up ...and here the players today are ahead of me, they did so as the game kicked off.
Nick Tilehurst

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Reading manager Steve Coppell: "We work hard in training and have lots of finishing sessions and I don't know why we are not scoring at the minute. "If I knew why we weren't I obviously would have done something about it by now. "Recent results would suggest that teams have worked us out. Whether we are a one-trick pony or not I don't know - only time will tell. "With the record we have here, teams come and defend. They changed their shape and on the day it worked. "We can't complain about that but we will lick our wounds and come back."
BBC Sport