Match Report: 2010/2011 Season

Reading: Long (28 mins, 45 mins, pen), McAnuff (84 mins)
Cardiff: -
Half Time: 0-2.

Attendance: 24,081

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, S. Cummings, Z. Khizanishvili, J. McAnuff, M. Leigertwood, J. Karacan (J. Tabb, 89), N. Hunt, S. Long (S. Church, 87). Subs not used: A. McCarthy, B. Gunnarsson, B. Howard, M. Manset, A. Pearce.
Cardiff City: S. Bywater, D. Keinan, K. McNaughton, J. Samuel (A. Matthews, 68), C. Burke, P. Whittingham, S. Olofinjana, D. Blake, J. Emmanuel-Thomas (J. Koumas, 60), M. Chopra (J. Parkin, 64), J. Bothroyd. Subs not used: L. Naylor, M. Hudson, T. Heaton, G. Rae.
Reading: Long.
Cardiff: Keinan, Koumas.
Ref: Howard Webb.
Who would have expected that? We might have hoped for a victory but after a tense first half with Reading going two goals up, possibly against the run of play, the Royals ended up cruising to a straight forward big win in the second half. This was a very special night, and an excellent all round team performance. Reading can be very, very proud of their work and are perfectly set-up for a big day out at Wembley on 30th May. This is a magical end to the season that promised so little at the start of the year. Reading are now just one game from the Premiership and look very capable of completing the task. The final against Swansea is going to be quite some game.

This was quite some game too. The 0-0 draw at the Madejski Stadium in the first leg of this fixture appeared to set Cardiff City up as favourites to progress to Wembley. For the opening 25 minutes of the second leg that seemed to be the most likely outcome - Reading had to defend hard as Cardiff enjoyed dominance in possession. It all changed on 28 minutes when the Cardiff City goalkeeper charged out of his area, thumped the ball against Shane Long and then saw Long superbly lob the ball high in the air and dip it perfectly under the crossbar and into the back of the net. Cardiff struggled to convert possession into chances are were limited to a couple of headers that found Federici in the right place at the right time to catch. Long's second goal, just before the half time break was crucial and effectively finished the home side. Mills was held back in the area and a penalty was rightly awarded. Long was cool once more, this time strolling up to the penalty spot, sending the keeper the wrong way and putting the ball into the right side of the net. So, two goals up at half time and there was to be no way back for Cardiff.

The second half was entirely different as Reading comfortably held their lead and looked to extend it. Possession stats reversed with Reading confident on the ball and Cardiff were clearly short on ideas. To Reading's massive credit they continued to attack and press for a third to kill the game. It might have came when Shane Long crossed and Hunt sent the ball against the post, but it did come with six minutes left to play when McAnuff, who had been overshadowed by suprise selection Cummings excellent performance on the other wing, scored a superb individual goal. McAnuff twisted between a couple of players, took the ball to the edge of the box and then finished with style to seal the 3-0 victory.

What can I say really? Superb and unbelievable first goal from Shane. I couldn't comprehend it when the ball crossed the line. Total pandemonium from there on in really. The support were totally behind the team tonight and this was deffo the highlight of my time supporting Reading. We stood all game with not a complaint from the stewards or other supporters who would probably have wanted to sit. Fair play all around for that. Corner, Penaltyw ith much confusion from us as we weren't sure if it has a freekick or not. Bloody hell we could go 2 goals up here!!. Willing the ball in and stop the game right there. Call it a day and let us have the glory.

Second half I really thought we would see Cardiff rip us apart. Two goals did not look like enough to hold on after the pressure we took in the first 15 minutes. Well actually Cardiff were piss poor, pressed the panic button and looked like they were never going to get the rub of the green. We needed that third goal though. Hunt hit the post and proved an effective foil, chasing lost causes, battling for the ball and damn were the team bullish and forceful out there tonight. WE WANTED IT MORE. It was really that simple. I kept willing that clock down after 60 minutes, fearful of the breakthrough for Cardiff that was surely to come at some point.

McAnuff attempted a run on goal which was evident of the teams confidence, sadly not to be until he scored the third. The elation on the pitch and the support was massive. I have a headache, sore throat and top, top scenes after the game had finished. Blood, sweat but thankfully no tears tonight. Elated and very very happy.

A fairy tale!! What a night, what a performance, what a team and what support. Most fairy tales have a happy ending, will ours ?? Can it be third time lucky in a final, oh I do hope so. All heroes last night , but Mills , Long , Karacan and McAnuff were unbelievable just like the result. Those that were there will never forget last night , now the big one on May 30th! Get on your knees pray, cross everything, get any lucky trinket out, do anything for divine intervention!! Oh Lordy...UURRZZZZZ
Nick Newbury

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

Reading secured a Championship play-off final place against Swansea at Wembley after a convincing second-leg victory over Cardiff City. Republic of Ireland striker Shane Long put the visitors in front after 28 minutes with a deft 20-yard chip after a mistake from keeper Stephen Bywater. Long doubled the lead from the penalty spot on half-time when Dekel Keinan brought down Matt Mills. And Jobi McAnuff sealed the win with a sublime 30-yard run and finish. The goal capped a ruthless and highly effective away performance from Brian McDermott's side, who are aiming to return to the Premier League after a three-season absence...

Reading made one change, with Shaun Cummings replacing Wales international Hal Robson-Kanu while influential winger Jimmy Kebe missed his sixth successive match because of a thigh injury... Long was first to threaten for the visitors when he beat Samuel before firing low into the side netting. A minute later, Chopra claimed a penalty after finding himself caught in between Mills and Mikele Leigertwood. Peter Whittingham then forced the first save of the match with a 25-yard effort, comfortably collected by Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici, before Mills blocked a Seyi Olofinjana drive inside a lively 12-minute opening period. Captain Mills again came to his side's rescue with a superb block to divert Chopra's goal-bound effort from a delightful Jay Bothroyd throughball. And a fierce Bothroyd shot was then deflected wide for a corner, from which Keinan rose well to force Federici into action again. But calamitous defending from Cardiff allowed the visitors to take the lead on 28 minutes. Samuel's attempted back-pass took a deflection off Kevin McNaughton's head as it skidded towards goal and keeper Bywater rushed off his line, seemingly with enough time to clear the ball from danger outside of his penalty area.

But the on-loan stopper's clearance rebounded off Long, who maintained his composure to lob the ball into an empty net from 20 yards out. Federici was kept busy with a Jay Emmanuel-Thomas header and a low Bothroyd drive as Cardiff advanced in search of an equaliser. Referee Howard Webb ignored a second Cardiff penalty appeal as Olofinjana felt he was pushed in the back as he rose to meet Chris Burke's far-post cross. The Royals almost matched the hosts' generosity by gifting the home side an equaliser when Leigertwood failed to notice Bothroyd lurking just outside the Reading box. But Australia international Federici raced off his line to clear the under-hit back-pass before Cardiff's top scorer could intercept. And moments later, Reading took a firm grip of the tie when Webb pointed without hesitation to the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time as Keinen brought down defender Mills with a blatant tug from a corner. Long held his nerve to steer the ball into the bottom right corner, sending Bywater in the opposite direction...

Webb was forced into another contentious decision when Federici appeared to handle outside the box to deny Bothroyd, but the referee was once more unmoved. Hunt should have sealed the victory when he flashed an effort across the face of goal from eight yards, but the third goal arrived four minutes later when McAnuff ghosted between two Cardiff players outside the penalty area before beating Bywater with a side-foot finish.

BBC Sport