MATCH REPORT: 2007/2008 Season

16 August 2008: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Sonko (13 mins, 50 mins).
Plymouth: -
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 19,202

Pos Team P Pts GD
4 Wolves 2 4 +3
5 READING 2 4 +2
6 Cardiff 2 4 +1
Reading: Hahnemann, Rosenior, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Kebe, Convey (Kelly 85), Harper, Cisse, Stephen Hunt, Lita (Noel Hunt 89), Doyle (Long 76). Subs Not Used: Pearce, Andersen.
Plymouth: Stack, Duguid, Doumbe, Seip (Timar 86), Barker, Puncheon, Walton (McNamee 66), Summerfield, Clark, Fallon, Mackie (MacLean 66). Subs Not Used: Easter, Paterson.
Ref: Richard Beeby (Northamptonshire).
Two headed goals from Ibrahima Sonko, both from Stephen Hunt corners, gave the Royals an important victory in their first home game of the season against a mediocre Plymouth side. It is notoriously difficult to climb out of the Championship, and there will certainly be tougher games to come. but there were some encouraging signs today. Reading took control of midfield early in the game and were generally quicker to the ball and sharper with their passing. It has been a long time since Reading have been able to dominate a game to such an extent. The defence was well organised with Sonko and Ingimarsson looking particularly comfortable. Cisse, drafted in to replace the injured Matejovsky. did a superb job, winning tackles and using the ball effectively.

Plymouth were on the back foot in the early stages and had a real scare when former Royal, Stack, fumbled and the ball was scrambled away. On thirteen minutes Sonko met a Hunt corner at the near post with a thumping header which gave Stack no chance. Three minutes later Convey blasted a Kebe cross over from a good position in front of goal. Reading passed the ball well using Kebe and Convey to get behind the visitors defence and keep their midfield busy in a defensive role. The Argyle foul count began to rise steadily but Reading were unable to take further advantage of their superiority. Plymouth got behind the Reading defence with a rare attack just before half time and then Hunt sparked off a period of self inflicted pressure by unnecessarily conceding a corner. The ensuing series of corners were dealt with comfortably by the Reading back line.

Just after half time Puncheon almost equalised with a shot form just outside the box which fizzed past the post with Hahanemann beaten. Reading heeded the warning and almost immediately Sonko struck again with another header from a Hunt corner. With a two goal cushion Reading relaxed and began to create more openings. A brilliant cross from Kebe was met by Hunt at the far post but he was unable to hit the target. Doyle turned and drew a good save from Stack. Cisse had a good chance but dragged his left foot shot wide. Convey made himself room for a shot with good touch before shooting just over the bar. The third goal did not come but Plymouth looked beaten long before the final whistle.Long, Kelly, and Noel Hunt came on but had insufficient time to make any real impact on a game that was already won.
John Wells

Our performance against Plymouth was one viewed with optimism. We played well considering that we still have no new left back. Hunt put in a decent performance,but i could see that he is not a defensive player. A new left back before Charlton on Saturday is a priority. We controlled the wings very well with Convey and Kebe and Hunt and Rosenior put in some great overlapping runs. We need to stay in a cautious mind,but if we play well all season maybe we can get promoted.

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Steve Coppell’s side were too streetwise at the Madejski stadium yesterday for a completely refurbished Plymouth team that bears little resemblance to the solid outfit that punched above its weight last season.
Ibrahim Sonko’s two unchallenged powerful headers - one in either half - was the difference between the two teams but the fact that Reading required goals from corners to illustrate the gulf in class does not tell the whole story. One man who dazzled in the Berkshire sunshine was the outstanding James Harper. The former Arsenal trainee marshalls the midfield in the modern way and a smile might even replace the normal Coppell frown if he is still at the club when the transfer window slams shut.
In Marcus Hahnemann, Ivar Ingimarsson, Harper and Kevin Doyle, Reading have a spine to match any of their rivals while Stephen Hunt, who was impressive in an unfamiliar left-back position yesterday, Sonko and Leroy Lita have all been coveted by Premier League clubs. Add in the exemplary organisational skills of Coppell - surely the club’s best close-season news was when he confirmed his wish to “put right” May’s relegation - and, as Plymouth manager Paul Sturrock pointed out, you have a team to fear. “We are looking at the champions or near enough,” claimed Sturrock.

The Times