Match Report: 2011/2012 Season

31 December 2011: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Pearce (64 mins).
Ipswich: -.
Half Time: 0-0.

Attendance: 18,737

Pos Team P Pts GD
4 Cardiff 24 42 +12
5 READING 24 39 +9
6 Hull 24 39 +2
Reading: A Federici, A Griffin, K Gorkss, A Pearce, S Cummings, J McAnuff, M Leigertwood, J Kebe (H Robson-Kanu, 85), J Karacan (J Tabb, 89), A Le Fondre (N Hunt, 62), S Church.
Subs not used: M Andersen, I Harte.
Ipswich: A Lee-Barrett, I Sonko, A Cresswell, D Delaney, G Leadbitter (J Bullard, 86), L Bowyer, L Martin (J Carson, 72), C Edwards, J Emmanuel-Thomas, D Murphy, M Chopra (N Ellington, 72).
Subs not used: R Wright, R Wabara.
Reading: -
Ipswich: Sonko.
Ref: Jock Waugh.
A solitary goal headed by Alex Pearce midway through the second half secured Reading's fourth consecutive win to end the year in fifth place. During that run the Royals have scored eight goals and conceded none. This win was earned the hard way and owed much to the team spirit and resilience built up over the past three months. Ipswich had clearly seen what Kebe and McAnuff had done to Brighton on Boxing Day and successfully stifled their attacking flair for most of the game but ultimately had neither cutting edge or the determination to prevent the Royals from taking all three points.

Initially Ipswich sat back but Reading were nowhere near as fluid in their play as they had been in the opening twenty minutes against Brighton earlier in the week and the visitors gradually eased themselves into the game. Although Gorkss drew a save from Lee-Barrett and Kebe saw his header cleared off the line, Ipswich were looking more threatening and direct. Gorkss and Pearce were finding Emmanuel-Thomas difficult to handle and he came closest to scoring in the first half with an excellent long range effort which skimmed the top of the bar. The crowd was subdued mainly because there was little to shout about apart from some appalling refereeing decisions. A promising break by Leigertwood was halted by an extremely poor decision just before half time when he was penalised for holding off a robust challenge in the box.

It was clear by half time that it was not going to be an easy win for the Royals. To make matters worse referee Waugh went from bad to worse. Sonko took out Le Fondre on the half way line with an uncompromising lunge (a familiar sight for Reading fans!) but as Karacan broke clear on goal the opportunity to play the advantage rule was ignored and play was stopped for a Reading free kick. Chopra had good chance to give Town the lead but his well struck shot flew just wide of the post with Federici beaten. As so often happens Reading scored almost immediately. The referee finally gave a free kick to Reading for handball (having missed a couple that were fairly blatant) and Pearce rose powerfully at the far post to nod down McAnuff's good delivery into the net. Ipswich had defended well but now had to go looking for a goal and it was Reading's turn to demonstrate their defensive qualities which they did admirably throughout the team, and as stated by Brian McDermott this was epitomised by Church when he sprinted forty yards across the pitch to block a clearance from Town 'keeper Lee-Barrett ten minutes from the end. Reading could have made the points secure before the end but Kebe's indecision ended his good run and the chance was lost.

Reading saw out the closing minutes of the game looking in control and Ipswich simply did not look likely to create the opening they required. It was another good team effort but Karacan stood out once again for his energy, sharpness in the tackle and his new found passing ability. He was replaced by Tabb in the eighty-fifth minute mainly to allow him to receive the standing ovation he deserved. Cardiff next, but unlike the other three teams above the Royals, they have beaten Reading this season. It will be another very tough game but the Royals are capable of getting a least a point in their current form.
John Wells

A pretty dull first half, probably the worst I've seen this season (In about 9 home games). We stepped it up in the second half and just about deserved a 1-0 win. Ipswich had no real chances of note, although Emmanuel-Thomas (Looked good throughout) had a rocket shot which clipped the bar in the first half. The ref and lino in front of the East stand were awful. The lino missed the most obvious corner when he was a yard away from the play as well as flagging McAnuff offside when he was at least three yards on. Overall an excellent three points, four wins on the trot and four clean sheets. Looking very solid right now. MOTM either Pearce or Karacan. Also a word on Feds. He hasn't had a great deal to do in the last three games but his handling has been impeccable. Takes the pressure of the defence.

Hard fought out game, its the way we have to get used to the way we win games, two very simular teams shutting down space all over the park, it was always going to take a set piece to decide it, for all their probing Ipswich didn`t threaten apart from a couple of long rang efforts. we will never be a fluent passing team this season, our game centres around getting in the faces of the opposition and feeding the ball out wide when the chances arise, Jem and Ledge are masters of this art the former being my MOTM today by covering every blade of grass all over the pitch. I am a little concerned with the lack of attacking options that Griffin offers because of his lack of pace, Jobie has to take on a solo role on that side of the pitch, Kebe teaming up with Cummings on the other side posed a constant threat, a deserved win IMO but with harder tests to come.

Ipswich pressed well and we didn't bring our A-game, but they tired and we found our way into it a bit more. A goal was somewhat inevitable, I thought Hunt or HRK would get it but they didn't need to. Karacan and Legs were quite poor defensively and left us vulnerable to long shots (Legs was also sloppier in possession than normal). Gorkss and especially Pearce were excellent though, so there wasn't much threat from near the goal. MOTM Pearce, even without his goal. Sonko got a good reception, was better for Ipswich than he ever was for Pompey but not good enough to get in our side.

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Alex Pearce scored his third goal of the season to hand Reading their fourth consecutive home win in the league. In an end-to-end start, Ipswich forward Jay Emmanuel-Thomas fired in a shot that clipped the top of the crossbar. Reading scored when Jobi McAnuff's free-kick was met at the back post by Pearce, who headed in powerfully. Simon Church went close to doubling Reading's advantage eight minutes later but was denied by keeper Arran Lee-Barrett. The result ended Ipswich's three-match unbeaten run after an eventful but scrappy encounter, during which both sides wasted several chances. Pearce had a glorious opportunity to open the scoring but misdirected his header, then Emmanuel-Thomas hit the bar with his effort. After the interval, Ipswich came closest to breaking the deadlock when Michael Chopra shot wide from 10 yards from a tight angle. The home side finally broke the deadlock when Lee Bowyer was penalised for handball, leading to McAnuff's free-kick and Pearce's winner. Ipswich struggled to mount a recovery as Reading enjoyed the better of the territory in the final stages.
BBC Sport