MATCH REPORT: 2008/2009 Season

Reading: Noel Hunt (32 mins, 62 mins), Cisse (37 mins).
Coventry: Fox (26 mins).
Half Time: 2-1
Attendance: 16,803

Pos Team P Pts GD
2 Birmingham 20 41 +11
3 READING 20 37 +23
4 Burnley 20 33 +4
Reading: Hahnemann, Rosenior, Ingimarsson, Duberry, Armstrong, Kebe (Henry 85), Harper, Cisse (Gunnarsson 77), Stephen Hunt, Doyle, Noel Hunt (Long 74). Subs Not Used: Federici, Matejovsky.
Coventry: Westwood, Tabb, Ward, Dann (Turner 46), Fox, Gunnarsson (Best 59), Doyle, Beuzelin, Hall, Morrison, Eastwood (Mifsud 77). Subs Not Used: Marshall, Simpson.
Reading: Stephen Hunt.
Coventry: Gunnarsson.
Ref: Kevin Wright (Cambridgeshire).
Watched by the smallest crowd for a home league fixture this season at the Madejski Stadium Reading eventually secured three points with a comfortable win. Having gone a goal behind to a superbly struck free kick from Coventry's Fox, the Royals hit back with two goals in a five minute spell, and then sealed victory with a Noel Hunt goal sixteen minutes into the second half. The crowd was initially quiet and subdued apart from a small but committed group of Reading fans in the corner of the East Stand who did their utmost to lift their team.

There were a few flashes of bright play from Reading in the opening twenty minutes but they only created one clear chance, a Noel Hunt header from his brother's cross which drifted over the bar. City passed the ball well but were unable to penetrate where it mattered. The game sparked into life when Duberry clattered into Morrison just outside the box and Fox curled the ball past Hahnemann from the resulting free kick to give the visitors the lead. It took five minutes for Reading to level the scores and it came with a large helping of luck. Noel Hunt's header from Rosenior's cross clipped the back of a defender and looped over the stranded Westwood in the City goal. Up until that point City's packed defence had dealt comfortably with several crosses. Steven Hunt nearly made it two when Cisse slipped him a pass which left him with only Westwood to beat but good work by the 'keeper forced him to prod his shot just wide. Reading took the lead in the thirty-seventh minute with a goal of the highest quality. Rosenior produced a pass which sliced open the City defence finding Kebe, who took the ball to the goal line and cut it back perfectly for Cisse to slam past the 'keeper from just inside the box. The only real scares for Reading were the consequence of their own sloppiness at the back. At half time, in spite of Reading's narrow lead, the match was still in the balance. Rosenior and Kebe were beginning to combine well on the right and Hahnemann was taking every opportunity to release the ball early to his full backs to set attacks in motion.

In the second half, City carried on where they left off, passing the ball around in midfield without making any impression on the Reading defence. The crucial goal came on sixty one minutes. Harper lifted the ball over the City defence. Steven Hunt chased it and held off some persistent challenges as he ran into the penalty area. He held the ball long enough for his brother to make his way into the goalmouth. When the pass came the City defender the line was indecisive, and as he dallied, Noel Hunt poked the ball over the line. City looked a beaten side from that point in the game and Reading increasingly threatened to increase their lead.

With Bikey unjustly suspended, Duberry made his long awaited comeback and did well enough without providing the same degree of flamboyance as Bikey. Doyle looked very sharp although his shooting was not up to own recent high standard. In my opinion it was Kebe who impressed most of all for the all round improvement in his game. He hardy put a foot wrong all night. He picked out the best passing options, took players on in the right areas and worked hard off the ball. It was not exactly a sparkling performance but Reading produced some very good bursts of attacking play which was enough to overcome City and put them back in touch with the top two.
John Wells


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John Madejski celebrated his eighteenth anniversary as the Reading chairman last night by watching his team come from behind to beat Coventry City. Reading were about to go out of business when Madejski rescued his local club in 1990 and the millionaire businessman is determined that they will return to the Barclays Premier League at the first attempt after they lost their top-flight status in May... Coventry were in front for only six minutes. Hunt was first to get to the ball when Liam Rosenior whipped in a cross from the right, but his header needed a looping deflection off Fox to beat Keiren Westwood, the Coventry goalkeeper. Reading took the lead after 36 minutes when Rosenior’s clever pass released Jimmy Kébé, who cut the ball back for Cissé to score. Hunt increased Reading’s lead in the 61st minute when he took advantage of a mistake by Marcus Hall to tap in a low cross from his older brother, Stephen. “We’ve got some good young players,” Chris Coleman, the Coventry manager, said, “but Reading look like a Premier League side.”
The Times

Last night, in front of the lowest league home attendance of the season of 16,803, they again fell behind and had a worrying spell where they conceded too much possession. But in Kevin Doyle and Noel Hunt they have two strikers who can terrorise any defence... It was not exactly vintage stuff from Reading, but the explosive spell just before the break saw them take control. And they had the luxury of a bit of breathing space just past the hour mark when they scored a third.
Nick Ive, Reading Evening Post