MATCH REPORT: 2007/2008 Season

30 August 2008: CHAMPSIONSHIP
Reading: Harper (18 mins), Doyle (67 mins, 68 mins, 89 mins).
Crystal Palace: Carle (37 mins, pen), Andrew (64 mins).
Half Time: 1-1
Attendance: 20,441

Pos Team P Pts GD
5 Sheff Utd 4 7 +4
6 READING 4 7 +2
7 Swansea 4 7 +1
Reading: Hahnemann, Rosenior, Pearce, Ingimarsson, Armstrong, Kebe, Harper, Karacan, Stephen Hunt, Long (Noel Hunt 68), Doyle. Subs Not Used: Convey, Bikey, Federici, Kelly.
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Butterfield, McCarthy (Lee 46), Hill, Lawrence, Hills (Scannell 73), Oster, Soares, Derry (Fletcher 77), Carle, Andrew. Subs Not Used: Moses, Ertl.
Reading: Karacan.
Crystal Palace: Carle.
Ref: Clive Penton (Sussex).
A second half hat trick from Kevin Doyle gave Reading a win they thoroughly deserved in a very entertaining game. Coppell was critical of the performance at Charlton last week and boldly selected Pearce and Karacan for their first Championship game along with new signing Chris Armstrong at left back. The energy and commitment of the midweek Carling Cup performance was evident again today. After taking the lead through Harper, Reading found themselves a goal behind midway through the second half. Within two minutes of going behind Reading stormed back, Doyle scoring twice to put restore their lead and provide the platform for a convincing win.

There was a good atmosphere inside the stadium from the start with both sets of fans in fine voice. Steven Hunt had half chance early in the game but his shot flew wide. Reading pressed forward but Palace were also prepared to attack and seemed to be able to find an extra man out wide and were able to cross without being closed down. New left back Armstrong looked quick, but unsure about who to pick up. (A few weeks with Wally Downes no doubt will sort that out.) Hahnemann flapped at a cross which landed on the bar. Nerves were steadied when he confidently claimed the resulting corner. Reading took the lead in the eighteenth minute when Rosenior's determined surge down the right produced a cross for Hunt to shoot. Speroni saved but the ball ran loose to Harper who hammered the ball home from inside the box. Reading were dominant. Ingimarsson glanced a header against the post and Pearce had a powerful header well saved. A delightful piece of individual skill sent Kebe on a run past the Palace midfield to release Steven Hunt who twisted and turned to make room for his shot but it was saved comfortably by Speroni. It was all going well for Reading until referee Penton decided to apply his own interpretation of the laws of the game. Carle drove a shot from the edge of the box which struck Harper's arm (as opposed to Harper's arm striking the ball - which is a penalty) and he awarded Palace a penalty they clearly did not deserve. This prompted a string of decisions which incensed the home fans. Oh its great to be back in the Championship!

The half time interval was marked by the embarrassing appearance of John Madejski on the pitch to make an utterly ridiculous appeal to the fans to back the boys and make some noise. The crowd was certainly behind their team throughout today's game. It only served to provide an opportunity for some sections of the crowd to vent their feelings on the man they hold responsible for a failure to strengthen the squad over the past year or so. With that nonsense out of the way Reading set about their task again with pace and flair. Kebe got behind the defence with a backheeled pass but not for the first time he selected the wrong passing option. Doyle nearly created a chance for Kebe and soon sfter nonchalantly flicked the ball up and volleyed from outside the box forcing yet another save from Speroni.Hunt cut through the Palace defence and then chose the wrong passing option electing to send Karacan into a dead end. Almost immediately Palace were denied by great block at the far post by Armstrong. Hahnemann released Long with tremendous throw but the out of form striker dragged his shot wide. Doyle also found himself in a similar position and produced a similar finish. Against the run of play Armstrong lost his bearings at the far post and Soares was able to finish from close range.

The reaction from Reading was exemplary. A minute later Steven Hunt's corner was left for the unmarked Doyle in the six yard box to nudge over the line. Amazingly a minute later Doyle put Reading ahead when another Hunt corner fell to Karacan who drove the ball across the goal for Doyle to tap in. Noel Hunt replaced Long and was given a sharp chance which he blasted over. He also got on the end of deep cross which was crying out to be volleyed but he took the safe option and controlled the ball and the chance disappeared. Kebe then produced yet another devastating run but instead of taking responsibility for scoring, passed to Noel Hunt and again the chance was lost. In the last minute Doyle completed his hat trick with header from another Steven Hunt corner to give a scoreline which accurately reflected Reading's superioty.

The win lifted Reading back into the play off positions, and they appear to have found in Karacan and Pearce, two new players capable of playing at this level. It was a pleasure to see Pearce keeping his head in possession and picking out forwards with accurate passes. The side looked strong today and that was without Matejovsky, Bikey and Cisse on the pitch. I only hope Doyle has not attracted too much attention in rediscovering his goalscoring touch.
John Wells


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Palace ... despite holding a flattering 2-1 lead midway through the second half, were sunk by a close-range treble by Doyle. Doyle has also been the subject of transfer speculation, despite a significant decrease in his goal output over the past year, and he conceded that the uncertainty had been affecting him. The hat-trick eased the pressure. “After 60 minutes, I didn’t think it was going to be my day again,” Doyle said. “Thankfully, it turned out to be. But I’ll be glad when the transfer window shuts. You hear this club might be signing you or that club. It’s mentally tiring, it’s wrecking.”
The Times