Match Report: 2010/2011 Season

Reading: -
Cardiff: -
Half Time: 0-0.

Attendance: 21,485

Pos Team P Pts GD
4 Cardiff 46 80 +22
5 READING 46 77 +26
6 Nottm F 46 75 +19
Reading: A. Federici, M. Mills, I. Harte, A. Griffin, Z. Khizanishvili, J. McAnuff, M. Leigertwood, J. Karacan, H. Robson-Kanu (M. Manset, 52), N. Hunt (B. Howard, 84), S. Long. Subs not used: J. Tabb, A. Pearce, S. Church, A. McCarthy, B. Gunnarsson.
Cardiff City: S. Bywater, P. Quinn (L. Naylor, 85), D. Keinan, K. McNaughton, C. Burke, P. Whittingham, S. Olofinjana, D. Blake, J. Emmanuel-Thomas (J. Koumas, 89), C. Bellamy (M. Chopra, 17), J. Bothroyd. Subs not used: J. Parkin, M. Hudson, G. Rae, T. Heaton.
Reading: Mills, McAnuff.
Cardiff: Bothroyd.
Ref: M R Halsey.
This was a predictably tense affair with such a big prize at stake. There were very few chances created as both sides were determined not concede the crucial first goal. Reading were without Kebe and it was not long before City lost Bellamy with a hamstring injury which reduced the attacking potential of both sides. Both sets of fans were in good voice although the City fans were a little subdued by their standards. This result in theory gives City a slight edge in the tie but in fact Reading are more than capable of winning the away match. I suspect Kebe is close to fitness and I expect him to start the next game on the bench, only coming on should Reading need to score to stay in the game. If he can get away with it McDermott will save him for the final. Tonight's game was tense, but Tuesday's game will be unbearable.

Harte had the first chance when Long won a free kick on the edge of the box for an off the ball incident which the referee's assistant did well to spot. Unfortunately the normally lethal left foot did not deliver. Federici made an early save when Bellamy nearly caught Reading with a swift counter attack. It was Reading that looked most likely to score mainly because they pressed forward with greater conviction. Karacan was like a man possessed popping up everywhere making tackles, whipping in crosses closing down players all over the pitch. Hunt tried his luck from long range when a pass to players either side of him might have created a better opportunity. Everyone was fired up. Harte looked much quicker and sharper than I have ever seen him in Reading shirt. Reading certainly had City rattled in the later stages of the first half but were frustrated to some extent by poor and inconsistent refereeing. McAnuff was booked for a late lunge but then Chopra got away with a quiet word for a far worse challenge on Karacan. Halsey then infuriated the City fans by trying to compensate by booking Bothroyd for kicking the ball way. Bothroyd however deserved little sympathy following his antics in the first half. He conned the referee (which was not too difficult) into giving free kicks by throwing himself to the ground every time a Reading defender when near him. In spite of his height Olofinjana did not have the bottle to compete in the air and was beaten by smaller players with ease. He whinged incessantly as did several City players. Good runs by Robson-Kanu and McAnuff threatened to open City up but the final touch could not be applied. The closest Reading came was a clever flick from Robson-Kanu which Bywater fumbled away for a corner.

The second half was much more of a cat and mouse game and, as both sides became more cautious and resorted to the long ball, goals looked even less likely. Whittingham fizzed a shot wide. Reading lost their balance when Robson -Kanu went off injured and was replaced by Manset. I could see why McDermott made the decision but putting Hunt out wide did not work and Manset had a shocker constantly giving the ball away. With Kebe injured there was no-one else able to occupy the vacant wide position so there was little choice. Antonio was rightly not included in the squad after his poor showing against Derby. The game fizzled out and ended goalless as everyone's minds turned to Tuesday. Only a fool would try to predict the outcome of the next encounter.
John Wells

Anyway I thought it was a tight affair, with us being the better side but just lacking a cutting edge. Defensively we were solid as shown by the fact Federici didn't have a save of note to make. Khiz and Mills dominated Chopra and Bothroyd. Griff and Harte both done well against their widemen. I thought Karacan was MOTM. Was everywhere and was good with the ball too. Legs was a tank but just gave the ball away a few times too cheaply, but to be fair he would then win it back. HRK was very good I thought for the time he was on the pitch, just a shame he got injured as he looks to be settling down nicely now. There was real purpose to his play and his awareness of team mates was much better. Jobi showed glimpses of brilliance but we just couldn't get him on the ball enough in the second half. Long was excellent as usual especially first half, but second half with HRK going off, he got a bit isolated with NHunt out on the right, and The Beast having his worst game so fair in the hoops.
All in all I am confident going in to the second leg as we're set up perfectly for this type of game, especially with Kebe back and Cardiff will be under pressure to perform. The lads have done us proud and we can go there full on confidence having not lost to them for what seems like an age. URZZZZZZZZZ!
West Reading

Typical play off first leg. Cagey, too teams frightened to lose or take too many chances. Reading the slightly the more forceful of the teams as you'd expect being at home but neither keeper had a save of note in the match sort of sums up a fairly timid affair. Defensively Reading did well but looked fairly clueless once they crossed the half way line, not enough decent service either in open play or from set pieces for the forward players.
Alan Partridge

Ended a run of 5 straight play off game defeats. I actually feel we have a better chance now than before the game. Player for player Cardiff are far better but they didn't make it show so there's no reason why they should on Tuesday. Whatever happens, my thoughts about this squad are well known, I don't think they have the quality or depth to be anywhere close to the play offs, fans of Leicester, Ipswich etc must be scratching their heads. It's been a tremendous achievement to get there and if it ends in failure that doesn't diminish that achievement. First goal wins on Tuesday, it's pretty much 50/50, or 55/45 in our favour if Kebe plays and is fit.

Cardiff got what they came for; a draw. They were time-wasting from the 6th minute onwards, and if there is synchronised time wasting at the next Commenwealth games, Wales will win Gold; they were aided and abetted by Mark Halsey who had a shocking game (which I let Dermot Gallagher who was sat in the Upr West red seats, know about at ht :evil: ). That having been said, whilst we looked more dangerous going forward (unsurprising as Cardiff were playing 451 with Boothroyd on his own up front - as an aside, HOW did he ever get an England cap ffs??? Mills and Khish had him in their pocket all night) the second leg will be more to our style of play as Cardiff will have to open up a bit more, which should leave them open to our swift counter-attacking play.
Mr Angry

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Scoring chances were at a premium as the Championship play-off semi-final first leg between Reading and Cardiff ended goalless at the Madejski Stadium. Cardiff started brightly but their attacking options were hit when Craig Bellamy limped off with a suspected hamstring strain after 17 minutes. Matt Mills came closest to scoring for Reading, poking wide from six yards. City's best effort came from Peter Whittingham, who rifled a 25-yard effort inches past the post. The two sides finished the Championship season separated by three points, and there was little to choose between them in a match high on tension but low on incident...

As full-time approached Bothroyd failed to finish and in a scrappy finale neither side could find the breakthrough, leaving the tie finely balanced ahead of the second leg at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday 17 May.

BBC Sport