Match Report: 2009/2010 Season

6 February 2010: Championship
Reading: Long (39 mins), Howard (77 mins).
Doncaster: Sharp (81 mins, pen).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 8,827

Pos Team P Pts GD
21 Ipswich 28 30 -8
22 READING 28 29 -15
23 Plymouth 27 24 -15
Reading: Federici, Mills (sent off 80),Griffin, Ingimarsson, Bertrand, McAnuff, Howard (Thorvaldsson, 89), Kebe (Church, 60 (Khizanishvili, 82)), Karacan, Gunnarsson, Long Subs not used: Rasiak, Hamer, Davies, Pearce.
Doncaster: Sullivan, Chambers, Martis (Hird, 68), O'Connor, Roberts, Wilson (Guy, 73), Coppinger, Oster, Stock, Sharp, Shiels (Hayter, 73) Subs not used: Smith, Mutch, Dumbuya, Heffernan.
Reading: Bertrand, McAnuff. Sent Off: Mills (80 mins).
Doncaster: Sharp.
Ref: K Stroud (Hampshire)

It will be interesting to see what HNA makes of BM's decision to go 4-5-1 at Donny. He's apparently quite keen on a "horses for courses" approach when it comes to picking the side. Gunnar, Karacan and Howard didn't manage to impose themselves on the game in the first half hour - we created nothing and Rovers looked far more likely to produce a telling ball. Griffin and Mills particularly dealt with the threat quite impressively. Slowly we got into the game and started to play some football. The goal came from one of our first real efforts on goal. Howard had drifted out on the right and produced a great cross which Long met with a glancing header into the far corner. You could say it was against the run of play, but we had started to look more comfortable by then. We started the 2nd half very well and Long looked dangerous taking on their centre-backs. After their keeper had made good saves to deny ranged shots from Howard and Long we got the second, the ball being played across the outmanned Donny defence to Long and then on to Howard, who finished well. That should have been us home and dry, but for Mills' red card. No view of it at all but presumably it was for deliberate handball. Sharp scored the penalty and made for a nervy last 20 mins (including a gut-wrenching 6 minutes added on). Felt for Church, who gave way to Khizanishvili about 15 mins after coming on. We totally gave up any idea of holding on to the ball, which was pretty frustrating. However our back four held out alright, the only Donny chances coming from outside the box. One skimmed the top of the crossbar, while the other two brought stunning saves from Federici, who was pretty much immaculate today. A hard-earned but deserved three points, and it's hard to argue that BM didn't get his approach right. Donny looked utter rubbish, confirming once again that there's no good reason why our squad shouldn't be midtable.

Thought that we took time to settle with the three in the centre of midfield getting used to thier roles and responsibilities with Donny finding too much room to get the ball to the front two. Once we settled though we started getting into the game and was happy to be in front at half time despite Kebe's lack of closing players down and chasing balls! Second half was a controlled performance and a cool finish from Howard was deserved. Not sure what happend with the Mills sending off or the Donny booking for the tackle on Federici but i'm looing forward to seeing the Federici saves again, i hate being behind the goal sometimes! Where the ref got the six minutes i'm not quite sure although there was that booking for Bertrand early in the half for time wasting so he may of been adding time from an early stage in the half. At times it was desperate, aimless clearing or not clearing at all in the case of Donny's final chance, it was a bit like the final twenty minutes at Preston. Karacan is the worst for this, even with his shooting and just needs to be that little bit more composed. That said i felt it was a deserved win and good to see McDermott getting all the players to go over to the fans that made the journey at the end. I'M BACKING BRIAN!
Compo's Hat

Just what a difference a bit of confidence makes! After a tentative first 30 minutes or so while we weathered the storm from Donny, you could see the self-belief grow as we started to realise that Donny were nothing special and we could beat them easily. Shane Long in particular is playing with much more confidence and it show - gone are the "so desperate to succeed that he's trying too hard" of a few months ago and things are now working out for him. (BTW - if anyone calls him "fat" they didn't see him after he'd taken his shirt off at the end!) Howard owed us a decent performance and we got one from him at last, so maybe he's showing us the first signs of being the "link player" that BR wanted TS to be and then bought Howard to play as - although I'd call it a 4-4-1-1 yesterday rather than a 4-5-1. As to the 6 minutes - no complaints and more or less what I expected - the ref obviously thought we were time-wasting (which we were!) and so added a couple of minutes for that. Add on the penalty, sending off, substitutions and injuries you can't fault it.
Dirk Gently

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Reading manager Brian McDermott:
"Brian [Howard] was excellent. He has come in every day and worked really hard. I cannot fault his attitude. He trains hard and is a good character to have around the place. He got a chance today and played superb. I was so pleased for him - scored one and made one. A great cross for the goal and a superb finish for his goal. We just have to keep trying to win the next game. We have done that today and I'm very happy."

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