Reading FC Match Report: 2012/2013 Season - Premier League


Reading: A Le Fondre (71 mins), A Le Fondre (77 mins).
Newcastle: Cabaye (35 mins).

The omens for this one didn’t look good at all. Snow swept across England on the Friday and the prospects for play would not have looked good. As cars slid across the roads of the nation, the journey itself seemed a precarious and unattractive proposition, particularly given that our away record was the worst not only in the Premier League but also the poorest in league football in England. Allied to that our appalling record in Newcastle of defeat on every Tyneside visit in our history and three goals shipped on each of our three most recent fruitless outings at this venue, only the deluded or the drunk would have travelled north for this one, one suspects.

The drunk would at least have enjoyed Newcastle’s famous night life and the atmosphere in the away end was at times akin to one large stag party. Remarkably, over 1000 Reading fans made the trip and ultimately, surprisingly, gloriously we were rewarded with a first away league win at Premier League level since a 4-0 thumping of Derby County on our ‘relegation party’ weekend back in May 2008. Such a landmark result seemed a fanciful idea during a first half at St James’ Park which was largely dominated by the home side with Adam Federici kept busy in conditions so alien from his native Sydney as to be like a different planet, Hoth perhaps. In a uneventful opening 10 minutes the only amusement on offer was the snow falling from the roof of the huge Gallowgate End stand opposite the Reading away support, huge chunks of snow plunging to the ground like an ice sculpture of Luis Suarez.

Newcastle were desperate for the win, however, given their own run of form which would be enough for even the most genial of Geordies blood to freeze. They soon got on top of Reading after a cool start to the game and Cabaye was denied by Federici with the aussie pulling off an even better save to deny Cisse – unmarked – scoring with a looping headed effort. Reading were getting pulled apart down Ian Harte’s left hand side as the elder statesman of the Reading side was repeatedly left wanting for pace and badly out of position allowing Newcastle to spring our attempts at pulling up for offside. That said, Reading looked lively on the break and gave the Newcastle defence plenty to think about. Kebe and McCleary had lively games and it was from a testing run and accurate cross from the latter which resulted in The Pog prodding wide and an excellent chance was wasted. Cisse tested Federici twice more and as the half wore on it became increasingly apparent that Newcastle were dominating our three-man central midfield.

And that conclusion was hard to avoid ten minutes before the break when McAnuff – operating in that middle-of-the-park role which McDermott, if nobody else, seems to fancy him in - frankly bottled a 50/50 challenge and which resulted in our captain giving a freekick away on the very edge of the box which referee Marriner was only too happy to give, having awarded our hosts a great number of weak-looking decisions throughout the half. Reading lined up a curious-looking 9 man wall which may just as well have been 9 snowmen as Cabaye stepped up to flick an accurate effort up into the corner of the net. Given that Reading had only once ever conceded the first goal away from home in the Premier League and won, it seemed that once again the game was up for us and the cold suddenly became as biting as the reality as we contemplated a fourth defeat from five league games against sides in and around us in the bottom 6.

But Newcastle are greatly missing their talisman Dema Ba who has left for Chelsea in search of trophies and that Cabaye effort was to be their only score against us on the day, despite dominating large chunks of the game. The home side had plenty of territory but very few chances in that second half, with that 3-man central midfield of McAnuff, Guthrie and Leigertwood proving largely ineffective despite the probings and efforts of the latter who broke up play successfully all afternoon. With the away support once again chanting for Adam Le Fondre, McDermott obliged by replacing the disappointing Guthrie – who endured an abject afternoon against his former employers in proving that Newcastle’s loss isn’t necessarily Reading’s game – and having ditched the 4-5-1 which kept us in the game it took barely sixty seconds of 4-4-2 for us to strike. The busy Leigertwood sent Kebe away and his cross was bundled in by ALF’s first touch of the game. A body blow to Newcastle which stunned their fans who were vocally unimpressed when Cabaye was withdrawn minutes later. Up until that point the biggest threat on Krul’s goal had been the snow which continued to fall from the stand roof.

For the second week running, good wing play had got Reading back into the game and for the second week running we took full advantage of the swing in momentum. With 13 minutes left, McAnuff – far more effective when switched back to the left hand side – swung in a long cross which Kebe nodded back across goal. Debutant Akpan’s swing and a miss looked more Hope-less than Hope-ful.....but it succeeded in disguising Le Fondre’s run to meet the loose ball with a curling effort beyond Krul from inside the box with the Newcastle defence caught cold. Frozen hands and feet were suddenly being warmed up high in the away end as the stag party got into gear early. Reading held out for a momentous win with one or two scares in the closing moments as the home side desperately attempted to exert some pressure. We were too deep in allowing Newcastle to fashion a chance which allowed Ameobi to crash wildly over the bar down below the travelling contingent. It was a let off, but given the cold and complicated 600 mile round trip we’d endured we deserved our luck and deserved our moment.
Neil Maskell

This Premier League game took place 2490 days ago in the 2012/2013 season.