MATCH REPORT: 2006/2007 Season

26 December 2006: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: Lita (67 mins), Essien (85 mins, og).
Chelsea: Drogba (38 mins, 72 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 41,885

Pos Team P Pts GD
8 Everton 20 28 +4
9 READING 20 27 -5
10 A Villa 20 25 -1
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Shorey, Little, Sidwell, Harper, Gunnarsson, Doyle, Lita. Subs Not Used: Federici, Hunt, Oster, Sodje, Ki-Hyeon.
Chelsea: Hilario, Geremi (Mikel 70), Ferreira, Carvalho, Bridge (Ashley Cole 70), Kalou, Essien, Ballack, Lampard, Shevchenko (Wright-Phillips 58), Drogba. Subs Not Used: Hedman, Diarra.
Reading: Lita
Chelsea: Ballack
Ref: A Wiley (Staffordshire).
Reading twice came from behind to record a historic away draw at the current Premiership champions. It was no more than Reading deserved after a spirited second half performance in which they outplayed Chelsea with some determined attacking football. This was much better from Reading after two straight home defeats, and even though Chelsea dominated the first half Reading were playing much more positive football than recent showings. At full time it was Reading's comeback and impressive football that took the headlines rather than accidental injuries to goalkeepers. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho was much calmer this time round and stuck to the facts: "That was a fair result."

Steve Coppell opted to make some changes to the side and Stephen Hunt, along with Seol, was left out of the intense media glare allowing Gunnarsson and Lita to start in a revised eleven. It was fair reward for Lita who made such an impact after coming off the bench against Everton on Saturday. Once again Lita was chasing the ball down and causing problems for the defence. However the greatest danger during the first half was the constant threat of Drogba up front for Chelsea. Drogba gave Sonko, constantly booed by the home fans, a tough afternoon. No Reading player had a bad game but Sonko failed to contain the might of Drogba - and he went on to score two goals as a result. It was clearly just a matter of time before Drogba would hit the net after getting in two good shots on target that Hahnemann did well to save. He didn't do quite so well on 38 minutes when a corner saw Hahnemann rooted to the ground to be outjumped by Drogba who headed home. Perhaps Drogba held Hahnemann down, but the goal was the inevitable result of Drogba's constant threat. Reading stuck to their game plan and were playing some controlled passing football. The hoofing of recent weeks was out of the window and instead we were being patient and working it forward along the ground whenever we could earn some possession. As a result we won a series of corners but failed to make much of them. We were probably happy with keeping it down to 0-1 at half time.

The second half was a different story. Rather than settle for keeping the score down we took the game to Chelsea and went on the hunt for an equaliser. In a complete reversal it was Reading that were now enjoying the possession and creating chances up front. When we came forward Chelsea looked vulnerable. We sensed a way back and took it. A few more wasted corners were followed by a strong period of pressure. A couple of dangerous crosses caused problems before Steve Sidwell unleashed an excellent shot that went the wrong side of the post - and in the top corner of the side netting instead. Glen Little had already threatened by cutting past players at the end of the first half. He again twisted past his man and beat a second before delivering the perfect cross from the right on 67 minutes. Leroy Lita had found the perfect space in the middle and delivered an exact header to send the ball into the side of the net. 1-1, the Reading fans went crazy and Lita picked up a yellow card for his celebrations. Reading were well and truly back in the game.

However, Drogba was still the same threat up front and Chelsea were back in front just five minutes later. The cross found Sonko sucked in the middle and out of position. Drogba took advantage of all the space to put the ball past Hahnemann to restore the lead. You'd be forgiven to thinking it was all over for Reading at that stage, but it didn't effect the game or the way we were playing and more determined football created more good chances. Doyle did well to get in a shot from close range under pressure from two defenders but put his effort way over the crossbar. Gunnarsson had a chance but also failed to meet the target. However the effort paid off with five minutes left to play. Doyle broke down the left and his excellent run ended with a cross into the middle. Under little pressure Chelsea substitute Ashley Cole played the ball into his team mate Michael Essien, and the ball pinged off him and into the back of the net to make it 2-2. The last five minutes and the additional three were always going to be nervous for Reading as they attempted to secure an excellent away draw. And Reading finished well, looking comfortable and very good for the point.

Simply magnificent. A well deserved point at Chelsea that is worth it's weight in gold in terms of confidence, respect, belief and achievement to the team. To play the way we did having gone down twice and attack Chelsea so positively, then win the well deserved praise after the match from all the pundits including Mourinho was a joy to behold. Can't think of many occasions when I've been so proud to support Reading football club. Brilliant, simply brilliant like every Reading player who pulled on the hoops today. All aboard the magic carpet to the next destination, the Theatre of Dreams. I think we'll feel quite at home.
Nick Newbury

Fantastic! Proud to be a supporter of this "little" club as we finally play in the league at Stamford Bridge. Several texts from colleagues and friends saying well done as if I'd masterminded the whole game. Two games on the trot on Sky when we've done ourselves justice in front of millions of armchair supporters. We made Chelsea look ordinary except Mr Drogba who for once is playing like the class player he is rather than expending all his energy impersonating Ronaldo or berating officials and opposing players. What a second half from the Royals - we gave Chelsea the fright of their lives and even when they went back in front, we never gave up. This has to be the performance of the season so far. Coppell got the tactics spot on. Revving the car up for the trip north on Saturday.
Worzel, West Sussex Royal

We couldn't get to the game but watched it live with the family in the Midlands surrounded by Man U fans. Nick N summed it up well - we felt so PROUD to be Reading FC supporters.
Crowthorne Seb

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