MATCH REPORT: 2007/2008 Season

1 December 2007: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: Kitson (54 mins).
Middlesbrough: Tuncay (83 mins).
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 22,262

Pos Team P Pts GD
11 Newcastle 14 18 -4
12 READING 15 14 -14
13 Fulham 14 13 -4
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Hunt, Harper, Gunnarsson (Long 86), Convey (Bikey 77), Doyle, Kitson. Subs Not Used: Federici, Cisse, Rosenior.
Middlesbrough: Turnbull, Young, Woodgate (Huth 69), Wheater, Pogatetz, Johnson (Cattermole 89), Boateng, Rochemback, Downing, Aliadiere, Lee (Tuncay 70). Subs Not Used: Steele, Hutchinson.
Reading: Murty, Gunnarsson.
Middlesbrough: Johnson.
Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).
The final whistle was greeted with a deathly silence at the end of a disappointing day for Reading. A significant number of home fans had already left, and those remaining probably felt as I did, that there was nothing to feel strongly about one way or the other. Middlesbrough arrived low on confidence, finding it hard to score goals and with a slightly edgy second choice 'keeper. Having taken the lead early in the second half the Royals failed to take advantage of a good opportunity to take a precious three points by conceding a late goal which the visitors deserved for the pressure the exerted in the final twenty minutes. Reading started with the strongest side available (apart from the long term injured Little) but were unable to take control of the game at any stage. Recent results have robbed them of confidence, and crucially, the quality of passing and willingness to take responsibility to play incisive football, and rewsulted in a disjointed performance. The problem was epitomised when Harper carried the ball across his own half and eventually was forced to pass the ball back to Hahnemann because nobody looked like they wanted to receive a pass.

In a first half littered with errors from both sides Kitson shone out like a beacon with quality of his passing and composure in possession, and without him I feel certain Reading would have lost today. Not only was he the focus for the most promising play but he also came closest to scoring, forcing two saves from Turnbull. The only other significant chance fell to Convey who scuffed his shot and it was easily gathered. Hunt managed a couple of twisting runs wide on the right before sending over a cross. On both occasions I though a an early cross without the clever footwork might have produced a better outcome. Sonko presented Boro with a chance when he was caught dwelling on the ball but the resulting break ende with a shot which was easy for Hahnemann to deal with. It was not by any means their only chance and could easily have taken the lead just before half time when Johnson hit the post with a lucky and relieved Hahnemann collecting the rebound off the post as he lay stranded on the turf.

The second half was at least more eventful. Reading took the lead on fifty-four minutes with a 'route one' ball from Hahnemann which Doyle flicked on. The ball thankfully fell into the path of Kitson, and with Turnbull making the incorrect decision to leave his line in spite of the presence of at least two defenders, he lifted the ball into the unguarded net. Reading could not be accused of sitting back, but as the game wore on Boro began to string passes together and enjoyed long spells of possession. With twenty minutes to go Hahnemann's temperament got the better of him. First he flapped unnecessarily at a cross which he would normally claim comfortably and them had a tantrum because a ball which dropped behind the defence put him in a position of having to show a bit of courage and determination. Agreed, Sonko might have dealt with it but in situations like that and it would have been easier for the 'keeper to deal with it - if he was on his toes! The rant that followed was unhelpful, only serving to unsettle an already below par Sonko when Reading needed everyone to be focussed and working together. I hope after the game Hahnemann spent more time reflecting on how Tuncay was able to head home a cross in the middle of the six yard area which was definitely his territory. After the equaliser either side could have taken all three points. Kitson came closest with a header after Shorey, left without any support on the left, did remarkable well to twist and turn to get his cross in.

It is going to be a long hard winter, and the squad needs to be strengthened in January, but Reading players need only to look back a couple of months to remind themselves they can play a lot better than they did today. It did strike me during the second half with the lack of creativity in midfield it could be time to push Shorey into a wide midfield role and find someone else to take over his defensive duties. With his ability to keep the ball, pass, and cross well, we might create more down the left and spend more of the game in our opponents half.
John Wells

Two very poor sides produce an instantly forgettable game, absolute garbage. Where this leaves us in the survival battle, who knows, but how can you expect a Championship side, in their second season in the Premiership do any better. Yes, not one additional player from our Championship winning team of two years ago played today. This is a Championship side competing in the Premiership in their second season! There is no doubt the lads way exceeded expectations last season, but one season on, the likes of Hahnemann, Murty, Ingimarsson, Gunnarrsson, Harper, Convey, Kitson and even Shorey are simply not up to this level, they have dropped below the requirement needed, have been sussed out by opposition and the so called "people at the top" at Reading FC should take a long long hard look at themselves in the mirror. Where has all the money gone? I was gutted last week when City got the last second winner, this week I'm relieved we got a point and didn't lose, as Boro had by far the better chances, all be it few. This was two points lost against one of our rivals at the wrong end of the league. The top of the league may as well be on another planet. I'm starting to think what's the point?
Nick Newbury

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

There was not too much to report about the first half, played untidily as it was by two undistinguished teams. Middlesbrough began the second half with the greater sense of purpose, but it was Reading who took the lead. The goal was pure route one. Hahnemann belted the ball three-quarters of the way downfield, Kevin Doyle won an aerial challenge to head it on and Kitson lobbed Turnbull neatly from the edge of the penalty area.
Colin Malam, The Telegraph

Tuncay Sanli's late header earned Boro a point in a scrappy match between two teams short of form and confidence. After an entirely forgettable first half, Dave Kitson gave Reading the lead, superbly lobbing Ross Turnbull. With Boro lacking a cutting edge, it looked likely to be enough to heap more pressure on boss Gareth Southgate. But with seven minutes remaining Tuncay headed home Luke Young's cross for his first goal for Boro, who despite the point are still in the bottom three.