Reading FC Match Report: 2012/2013 Season - Premier League
READING 2 NEWCASTLE 2
Reading: J Kebe (57 mins), N Hunt (62 mins).
Newcastle: D Ba (58 mins, 83 mins).
Never was the footballing cliché ‘we was robbed’ more appropriate. Not only were Newcastle completely outplayed by a rejuvenated Royals, but they were allowed an equaliser seven minutes from the end when Demba Ba deceived McCarthy by diverting a cross in to the net with his hand. To complete a frustrating afternoon for the Royals, Harper then pulled off an outstanding save from Roberts, and McAnuff smacked a fine effort against the upright in stoppage time. It was however, not the result that was significant about today’s game, but the performance of a much changed Reading team, who for the first time this season took control of the game from start to finish. Reading now know they are capable of beating the top sides in this league.
The back four was unrecognisable from the last home game against Spurs. Only Gorkss remained, with Cummings, Shorey and Mariappa replacing Pearce, Harte and Gunter. Jimmy Kebe returned and Jason Roberts was on the bench. From the start, the confidence gained from a victory earlier in the week away to QPR, gave Reading an edge to their game that had been missing in previous home games.
Pogrebnyak, partnered by Hunt, caused havoc in the United defence. Hunt won everything in the air and Pogrebnyak’s strength made him difficult to dispossess. The Russian striker had a mixed day in terms of strikes on goal. He ballooned one effort into the South Stand when sent clear, drew a brilliant save from Harper with a well directed header, and was denied a great chance by a last ditch tackle on the stroke of half time. Cummings and Shorey played a big part in Reading’s dominance of the first half with their touch, passing and enterprise. Mariappa looked very sharp. Clearly his pace makes Reading less vulnerable at the back although he will need to learn to be alert to the movement of Premier League strikers of the calibre of Ba. Ben Arfa posed a threat when allowed to run at the Royals back four but Reading were so well organised and disciplined he could not find a way through.
A heavy touch by Pogrebnyak spoiled a good opening at the beginning of the second period, and at the other end, Shorey was quick to spot danger and cover a gap in the centre of the Reading defence to stifle a promising attack by the visitors. In the fifty-eighth minute Kebe deservedly swept Reading into the lead when he popped up on the left with a well timed diagonal run to pick up a pass from Mcanuff beating Harper from the edge of the box. Reading fans had barely sat down before Ba equalised with a stunning volley from an inch perfect long ball from Tiote. Undeterred Reading were ahead again four minutes later when McAnuff beat his man to whip in a cross for Hunt to head in at the near post. It was another high quality goal. In contrast to the last home game, McAnuff was leading by example with an inspired performance. In game of few fouls, United became increasingly desperate and reckless in their defending, eventually picking up three yellow cards.
Ba’s second goal was also United’s second attempt on target, albeit with his hand as opposed to his head. The referee failed to spot the offence and United were undeservedly level again. Roberts came on for a very lively fifteen minutes with Le Fondre for company, as Hunt and The Pog both went off to a well deserved standing ovation, and almost scored the winner. When McAnuff’s shot struck the post in added time everyone knew it was not to be Reading’s day.
Last week I was encouraged when I heard Mark Lawrenson identifying Reading as favourites for relegation. (“A loaves and fishes job for Brian McDermott to keep Reading up!”) He is so often wrong it gave me hope! It will be satisfying come the end of the season to hear him eat his words again.
This Premier League game took place 2095 days ago in the 2012/2013 season.