MATCH REPORT: 2004/2005 Season

Reading: -
Sheff Utd:
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 18,899

Pos Team P Pts GD
4 Preston 40 65 +5
5 READING 40 61 +9
6 Derby 39 61 +8
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Hughes, Sidwell, Newman, Brooker, Kitson, Forster (Ferdinand 83). Subs Not Used: Keown, Harper, Morgan, Young.
Sheff Utd: Kenny, Morgan, Jagielka, Bromby, Kozluk, Montgomery, Quinn, Tonge, Harley, Kabba (Webber 77), Gray. Subs Not Used: David Johnson, Barnes, Thirlwell, Geary.
Reading: -
Sheff Utd: -
Referee: M Jones (Cheshire).

Reading's third 0-0 draw in five fixtures saw the Royals somehow climb into fifth place in the Championship table this afternoon. The visitors, play-off rivals Sheffield United, were probably more happy with the result that keeps them two points behind with a game in hand. Reading moved above Derby on goal difference after they were beaten at Ipswich and West Ham's win at Wigan saw them move to seventh - also just two points behind the Royals with a game in hand. It's very tight at the top of the table and Reading will be frustrated not to have picked up the three points today after enjoying the better of a close fixture.

Nicky Forster has had a interesting time recently after putting in the winner in Reading's last league fixture at Brighton and earning himself an offer of a year's contract extension. He made a return to the starting line-up this afternoon and looked a much improved player from his appearances earlier this season that saw him being left out of the side. Forster worked hard all afternoon both in attempting to create chances and to take the ones he was presented. He came close to scoring twice in the opening half. Firstly with a opportunistic lob of the goalkeeper that narrowly flew over the crossbar as it dipped, and then he worked his way through the defence before firing in a low shot against the United post with the goalkeeper nowhere to be seen. Steve Sidwell also nearly found the target only to see his shot hit the foot of the same post. Reading were clearly on top but the visitors might have gone in a goal up when they looked certain to score only to find Murty on the line to hack the ball clear.

The second half lost some of it's tempo after a lively, and tough, first half and the chances were few and far between as the game drifted towards 0-0. Dave Kitson seemed hugely out of form and looked a shadow of his usual self in all departments. Forster was replaced with Ferdinand as Reading looked for a late win and he impressed in his short time on the pitch heading down a few balls to create openings. Unfortunately Kitson failed to make the most of a couple of loose balls in the area and Sonko fired a header wide when he had the whole goal to aim at. So another draw as Reading struggle to pick up the points. With six games of the season remaining a win against Millwall on Tuesday night is essential.

Following report from John Wells:
With both sides desperately needing a win I suppose a draw was always a likely result. It was a typically gritty performance from United, but Reading created more clear cut scoring opportunities and generally looked more likely play off candidates than their opponents.

The opening exchanges were lively with both sides signalling their intention to try to win the game but Forster was looking very sharp and his pace caused United sufficient concern to force them onto the back foot. Kitson, although looking slightly below par, helped Fozzy do his stuff by dropping deep and sliding some good passes behind the United defence. Forster's best chance however came from a simple long ball from a Shorey free kick. He looked to have lost his man with his pace, but his effort was well wide and possibly the defender did enough to distract him. He came close with two better efforts from more difficult situations. Running onto a Kitson pass he took the ball early in his stride and his shot from outside the box took everyone by surprise but dipped over the bar. He came even closer a few minutes later when he worked a good position for himself in the box only to see his shot hit the outside of the post.

United had two chances of their own. Andy Gray mis hit his shot from the edge of the area when the ball fell kindly for him, and Murty had to block an effort from Quinn when Kabba had skipped worryingly past Ingimarsson and crossed from the right. It was the only time Reading looked really exposed at the back.

The game became more open in the second half as both sides seemed to lose their shape and the play became stretched. Brooker, having been invisible in the first half, suddenly became more of a threat on the right. He was beating players, cutting inside to switch the play and even had a shot from outside the box which curled just wide. It was the best half I have seen him play.

Les Ferdinand came on late for Forster and immediately won a header which put Hughes into a scoring position. However, with only Kenny to beat, he lacked composure and drove his shot against the 'keeper's legs. After the game Coppell admitted that he was not sure who to take off. It may be that on this occasion it would have been better to play Ferdinand in Kitson's role a leave Fozzy on, but it would take a brave man to take off the leading scorer when goals are so scarce.

So here we are still in the top six, although far from secure in the play off spot, and only a handful of games left. It is crossing fingers and nail-biting time. If we do make the top six at the end of the season, the much criticised signings of Ferdinand and Keown with their experience could yet prove to be a telling factor in our favour.


Yet again our failure to put the ball in the net cost us two points. This though was not the drab game that we have had to settle for recently. We could have been three one up at halftime and the fact that we weren't was due to the returning Forster. He had three chances to score and narrowly missed with all of them. To his credit it was he who created them and I thought that he was probably our best player today. This was the old Forster - misses and all! He was in sharp contrast to his partner Kitson who looked out of sorts and it was a surprise that when Ferdinand did come on, it was not for him. We were good in the first half - the back four were resolute - and it was good to see Murty having a better game. It was just the goal that was lacking. It did seem to be a matter of time before we scored. In the second half I though we lacked the fluency of the first. The player who did change his game around was Brooker. He showed what he is really capable of - taking people on at will and looking a real threat. If only he could do that more often. I thought that we were the better team today and whether this return to form will be a bit too late will be revealed over the next few weeks.
Ken C

Another 0-0 which somehow see us go up a place in the league. Three points today would have been priceless and though I thought we were a bit unlucky against a very boring Sheffield Utd team, at the end of the day it's two home points lost. Both teams in the end seem devoid of any creative ideas and are clearly woefully short of any quality to sustain life in the promised land. We just cannot seem to raise our game when it really counts and yesterdays game was as big a six pointer as you'll ever want, but you'd not have thought it by the game and the noise in the stadium. Nicky Forster had a great game back and had many chances to score, that was never going to happen mind as I'd backed him to score the first goal, but with Kitson looking very out of sorts Fossie was by far our best player. He may have been knackered, but I saw no point at all in Coppell taking him off with ten minutes to go. Ironically the best chance of the game came straight after when Hughsie had a great chance to be a hero and score the winner, but couldn't put the ball away, Fossie would have been in that position, but we'll never know. Probably the proverbial shit or bust against Millwall on Tuesday. We have to win to remain in the hunt for a play off place. Should be a lively encounter as usual against the friendly lads from south London. Let's hope for a cracking game, a few goals and three points... URZ
Nick Newbury

Sorry but this result does not enthuse me in any way! Sheffield will be more than pleased with this point and with a game in hand on us. Our goals scored says it all and frankly if we make the playoffs it will be no more than a sign of avery indiffernt league this year. Wigan, Sunderland and Ipswich deserve the test of the upper flight again but we certainly do not. We do not possess a manager with true grit and determination.Just look at his stupid signings that can only be described as players past their sell buy and fitness dates and draining our clubs financial resources. In my view nothing short of a miracle success at the playoffs should save Mr.Coppells job. If you think this is harsh consider the following: 1.The manager said he would build a team around James Harper - where is he? 2.When Dave Kitson was injured at a crucial part of the season what action did he take that was constructive? 3.It will not do to say the club has moved forward. 4.Revisit our Chairman's ambition and desire at the start of the season and surely he has made available the money for our manaager to impress us with famous names in football but well past it! Do you really think that if we finish in the top ten we have had a good season? If the Will and determination to win a game as was demonstrated in our match against West Ham was so yesterday we would have strolled past Sheffield United! I sadly do not think it is our year AGAIN based upon some of the above facts. I hope I am proved very wrong but just watch the reaction of the West Ham board if they similarly fail! We do not possess this real committment but if Wigan can have the vision of spending out on a young determined manager that the players clearly respect and want to play for, why not us?
Terry, Isle of Wight.

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