MATCH REPORT: 2005/2006 Season

29 November 2005: LEAGUE CUP ROUND 4
Reading: -
Arsenal: Reyes (12 mins), Van Persie (42 mins), Lupoli (65 mins)
Half Time: 2-0
Attendance: 36,167

Pos Team P Pts GD
1 READING 21 50 +27
2 Sheff Utd 21 46 +21
3 Watford 21 37 +11
Reading: Stack (Hahnemann, 83), Murty, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Shorey (Makin 59), Oster, Harper, Sidwell, Hunt, Kitson, Lita (Doyle 72). Subs not used: Little, Convey.
Arsenal: Almunia, Eboue, Larsson, Senderos, Gilbert, Muamba, Djourou, Flamini, Reyes (Cygan 75), Owusu-Abeyie (Bendtner 83), Van Persie (Lupoli 63). Subs not used: Poom, Connolly.
Reading: -
Arsenal: Cygan.
Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire).

Reading's unbeaten run in all competitions came to an end at Highbury last night, but there was certainly no disgrace in the performance. The difference between the two sides came down to finishing, and the 0-3 scoreline provided an unfair reflection on the balance of play. Both sides fielded weakened sides, but Arsenal's team featured only three first team players, while the Royals chose to rest Hahnemann, Little, Convey and Doyle. Despite the changes to Arsenal's league line-up, the side was still packed with multi-million pounds worth of talent. Reading worked well as a side, as they have done all season, but the flashes of pure quality came from the hosts. Reading might have done better from the game had they managed to withstand early pressure from Arsenal, but the opening goal on 12 minutes always meant Arsenal were going to be comfortable. The Royals always looked vulnerable from Arsenal's quick attacks, and the first goal came at pace as the ball was played through the Reading defence. Reyes, was judged onside and took the ball round the advancing Stack before slotting it home. Reading had chances to pull level. Lita forced his way in to get in a close range shot that was blocked, after a rare defensive mistake, and Harper tried a decent lob from the edge of the box that was tipped over the crossbar. Kitson looked certain to equalise with four minutes of the first half remaining when he met a cross with a powerful header. Unfortunately his effort was direct at the keeper who was able to make the save - either side of him and Reading would have been level. However, instead of the game being 1-1 at the break, it was 0-2, as Arsenal immediately broke after Kitson's attempt on goal. The ball was quickly played down the right in another lightning attack, crossed in the middle, tapped back and buried into the back of Stack's net.

The second goal effectively killed off Reading's hopes of getting back into the game. Despite this, and the clear quality of the opposition, we continued to play some good football in the second half. We were certainly capable of keeping hold of the ball and were playing it around nicely, and we weren't afraid of coming forward and attempting to get on the scoresheet. Unfortunately we couldn't take our chances and lacked Arsenal's pace up front. Hunt looked certain to score after breaking free to run into the area to take on the keeper, however Almunia was quickly off his line to block the opportunity. You couldn't help thinking that if that was at the other end it would have been a certain goal. Reading looked lively, but Arsenal looked livelier. It was all over on 65 minutes when Sonko, who had otherwise had a solid game despite a wide range of heading quality, gifted Arsenal a goal. Sonko looked like he had already won the ball but gave away possession just inside the Reading half, allowing Lupoli to run towards goal before taking it wide of Stack and rolling it home.

Even at 0-3 Reading continued to work the ball around looking to carve open a chance, but both sides were relaxed now and the game had a feel of the League Cup game it was, despite the large travelling support. Doyle replaced Lita and looked a better bet up front, and Hahnemann came on for Stack despite no obvious sign of injury to the keeper. Perhaps Hahnemann wanted to play at Highbury before it closes for business at the end of the season. It remained a good evening out despite the score-line. Reading played well but didn't over-exert themselves. We should still be fresh for the more important matter of Luton Town at home on Saturday - and the chance of going seven points clear at the top of the Championship.


The Telegraph match report said that the only difference between the two sides was the quality of the finishing and I agree. From my lofty position high on the North Bank upper tier, things would have been very different if we'd taken our chances. I thought we more than held our own against the nucleus of Arsenal's future 1st team. And my heart goes out to Sonko who dealt with everything the Gunners chucked at him before his slip let Arsenal in for their 3rd goal. But we never gave up and the home fans around me had their hearts in their mouths on more than one occasion. Some of our passing and movement was very sharp. Lita desperately needs a goal and I still think we could do with a midfield enforcer like Parky, despite the quality we already have there. It was great to see the boys play well in front of a full house at Highbury and we must not despair about this result. There are many positives to take away and hopefully the experience has whetted the appetites of the squad to play premiership football next season.
Simon, Datchet

Reading can hold their heads high after this showing. The players deserved a goal at the very least for their efforts, with Harper, Sidwell and Oster acquitting themselves the best for me. I hope the loss doesn't have a negative affect before the Luton match because the team having nothing to feel ashamed about. Bad luck Reading!
Caversham Royal

Couldn't agree more with Caversham Royal. All in all, I thought we played pretty well last night and thought that the 3 nil score line was, perhaps, a bit harsh on us. We knocked the ball around fairly fluidly and had a couple of very real chances to score. Had Kitson's header not been directly at the keeper just before they scored their second, it could've been slightly more interesting. At any rate, it was good run out for the boys and a good indication of what the Premiership could/would be like next season if we're to make it! Personally, I thought we did ok, but lets face it, 3 points on Saturday against Luton will prove to be far more valuable than a 4th round Carling Cup victory against Arsenal reserves. Let's get back to winning ways on Saturday! Come on!!
Matt (Wokingham)

"I think Reading are a good team. They have good team play, a very mobile team, they are tuned in together- there is a good understanding. And they have a way to play that looks fluent and dangerous - for me it's a good side."
Arsene Wenger

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