MATCH REPORT: 2006/2007 Season

30 December 2006: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: Sonko (38 mins), Lita (90 mins).
Manchester United: Solskjaer (33 mins), Ronaldo (59 mins, 77 mins).
Half Time: 1-1
Attendance: 75,910

Pos Team P Pts GD
8 Spurs 21 31 -2
9 READING 21 27 -6
10 Man City 21 26 -7
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty (Sodje 59), Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Little (Ki-Hyeon 66), Sidwell, Gunnarsson, Harper, Doyle (Hunt 73), Lita. Subs Not Used: Federici, Oster.
Manchester United: Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Heinze, Ronaldo (Fletcher 78), O'Shea, Carrick, Park (Giggs 46), Rooney (Richardson 79), Solskjaer. Subs Not Used: Kuszczak, Saha.
Reading: Sodje, Gunnarsson. Sent Off: Sodje (69 mins, 2nd booking)
Manchester United: Richardson.
Ref: M Dean (Wirral).
It was always going to be a very tall order to come to Old Trafford and come away with any points, but Reading gave it their best shot and contributed to an entertaining afternoon of football. Reading can, once again, hold their heads up high after losing by a single goal in five. The two sides shared an even opening half - both sides had chances and Reading deserved to go in with the scores level at half time for their efforts. After the break the home side dominated as they went on the attack looking for goals to wrap up the win. The victory wasn't in doubt but they were greatly assisted by a harsh sending off of Sodje - who lasted just ten minutes on the pitch after replacing the injured Murty.

As expected Ronaldo was to be the key man for United. He continually caused the Reading defence problems and it was only a matter of time before he found the net. The first chance of the game came to Ronaldo as he broke into the box and forced a save from Hahnemann from a tight angle. United looked more likely to open the scoring with Ronaldo again getting an effort on target but directing it at the Reading goalkeeper. The pressure resulted in United taking the lead just after the half hour mark when Ronaldo provided the cross and Solskjaer found space in the middle to head the ball in the back of the net. Just as Reading had at Chelsea, we never stopped fighting. Our response to finding ourselves a goal down was to try and restore the balance. A Reading attack was rewarded with a free kick, and Shorey put it into the box where Sonko met it to head Reading level at 1-1. The Royals had been behind for just five minutes.

Reading were working hard but it was an onslaught after the break as we tried to keep United out. Giggs looked like he'd scored - but his shot had only found the side netting. Ronaldo was involved again as he headed a corner against the crossbar. On the hour mark Reading's resistance crumbled. Graeme Murty was clearly struggling with an injury - which may have contributed to United getting extra space to attack down the left. Rooney was able to break free and provided the cross. Solskjaer hit the post but Ronaldo was there to hit home the rebound and put United a goal up. Murty limped off and was replaced by Sodje who was to have a very unfortunate afternoon. He quickly conceeded a foul before immediately finding himself in the book. The first booking was harsh enough but the second was worse as he was judged to have pulled Rooney back. The Manchester United player was in the process of being penalised for being caught off-side - but the referee still produced the second yellow and then the red to give Sodje his marching orders.

So Reading found themselves playing with ten men, and already a goal down, at Old Trafford, against probably the very best side in British football. Luck clearly wasn't on our side as United poured forward again. On 77 minutes Giggs crossed and Ronaldo scored from an offside position to seal the points. Reading were looking well beaten but still refused to give up. After more home attacks, Reading scored the final goal of the game as it entered stoppage time. Lita followed up his goal at Chelsea with a goal at Manchester United - it was an excellent run and finish to make it 2-3. In the dying moments Reading caused United some more worry - with Hahnemann coming up for a last ditch attempt to equalise as the Royals won the last corner of the game. It came to nothing as Van der Sar punched clear and Reading couldn't salvage a point.

Arrived late due to bloody M6 - shades of Villa - and in the East Stand with home fans as no chance of an away ticket to this one for me. Once again our fans were magnificent and the Utd lot were quieter than the Geordies until their team raised them. We fought for everything and with Scholes and Vidic missing, Utd were far from their best. Ronaldo was the key player again although Giggs coming on at half time I felt was the key change. You always felt Utd could go up a gear whilst once again we were playing flat out. Marcus made some key saves although he was struggling to hang on to the ball in the rain. Van De Saar let two soft goals in from his point of view but who cares. We've scored four goals against the key teams in the league. Now we need to repeat the performances against the lesser teams starting with Worst Ham tomorrow.
Worzel, West Sussex Royal

Got an opinion? E-Mail us at
Appropriate submissions will appear on match report pages