Match Report: 2010/2011 Season

26 December 2010: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: McAnuff (31 mins), Hunt (43 mins), Long (66 mins, 89 mins).
Bristol City: Stead (15 mins).
Half Time: 2-1.

Attendance: 19,293

Pos Team P Pts GD
6 Coventry 23 34 +2
7 READING 22 33 +10
8 Burnley 21 32 +7
Reading: Federici, Mills, Griffin, Pearce, Armstrong, McAnuff, Leigertwood, Kebe (Robson-Kanu, 80), Karacan, Hunt, Long Subs not used: Harte,Howard,Church,Antonio,McCarthy,Khizanishvili,
Bristol City: James, Stewart, McAllister (Nyatanga, 49), Ribeiro, Caulker, Elliott, Skuse, Rose (Campbell-Ryce, 82), Adomah, Stead, Pitman (Haynes, 76) Subs not used: Clarkson, Gerken, Johnson, Cisse,
Reading: Armstrong.
Bristol City: Caulker, Elliott, Rose, Skuse, Stewart
Ref: K Friend (Leicestershire)
This fine home victory was not quite a one man show, but there is rarely such an obvious candidate for Man of the Match as Shane Long today. He was, as usual, the focal point for Reading's attack and with his pace, strength, excellent first touch, range of passing and ultimately clinical (yes clinical!) finishing, gave the Royals an edge which proved too much for City. Compared to the raw youngster who arrived at the Madejski a few seasons ago this was a performance of considerable maturity and a credit to his attitude and the work of the coaching staff.

Reading appeared to be suffering from a festive hangover as they struggled to get to grips with a lively and determined City side in the opening twenty minutes. City were making their physical superiority count and with a lenient referee not helping the Royals' cause, took an early lead through Stead. An apparent foul on McAnuff went unpunished and the lapse in concentration which followed possibly gave City the time and space they needed to create an opening. A quick break exposed a huge space between Armstrong and Pearce for Caulker to run into, and with Federici dithering in no mans lands he was able to lob on to the bar. Stead was quicker to react than Mills and turned in the rebound.

The goal provided Reading with the impetus to raise their game. Kebe suddenly looked interested, Liegertwood and Karacan tightened their grip in midfield and Reading began to look sharper all round. On thirty one minutes a Kebe cross was met with a powerful header by McAnuff, and although James saved at full stretch McAnuff tucked away the rebound to level the scores. The momentum was now with the home side and just before half time Long used his strength to rob Adomah on the edge of the box and squared the ball to provide a grateful Hunt with a tap in. It was superb forward play by Long.

Following his two goals away at Derby last week it seemed Long's goalscoring touch had deserted him again in the opening minutes of the second half when he missed a good chance at the far post from a Kebe cross and then had a close range header blocked by James. The game had inevitably opened up as City were forced to come out to find an equaliser. There was a nagging doubt City might claw their way back until the sixty-seventh minute when Pearce put Long through with a long ball into space behind their slightly square back four. Using his pace and strength he broke clear and maintained his composure to crack the ball past James off the inside of the post. City from that point never looked like coming back and the rampant Long used all the same attributes again to hammer the fourth past James increasing the flow of City fans towards the exits.

The only change of note today was Armstrong resuming his old spot at left back in place of Harte who I assume is being saved for the heavy programme later this week. He appeared a bit rusty in the first half but looked increasingly at home as the game progressed and eventually coped well with City's pace down the flanks. Kebe took a while to settle but was also better in the second half. The team is looking fairly settled at the moment and playing some good football and with Shane Long in his current form there is a more optimistic mood beginning to grow.
John Wells


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Reading continued their push for the play-off places as they overturned an early deficit to see off Bristol City. The visitors grabbed the opener when Jon Stead headed in but Jobi McAnuff levelled for Reading after David James tipped his header on to the post. Noel Hunt tapped in before the break following a fine cross from Shane Long to give the Royals a vital lead. Long converted Alex Pearce's through-ball to make it three before securing his brace from Hal Robson-Kanu's pass. After four consecutive home draws it was a crucial three points for Reading as they moved to within one point of Coventry in sixth place. It had all looked so different on 15 minutes as the Robins took the lead when defender Steven Caulker's cute lob rebounded off the crossbar into the path of Stead who nodded in.

The hosts began to wake up and keeper James had to be alert to deny Jem Karacan before the equaliser arrived on the half-hour with McAnuff sweeping into the net on the second attempt after his header had come back off the woodwork. Reading grabbed the all-important second goal two minutes before the interval and it was all thanks to a fine run by Long with the Irish winger crossing for compatriot Hunt to bundle in the ball. Long continued to be a nuisance and grabbed a deserved goal when he slotted the ball past James following good work from Pearce. The Royals dominated in the final stages as City pushed hard to get back into the game but the points were made safe in the last minute when Long picked up a pass from Robson-Kanu to fire past James.

BBC Sport