MATCH REPORT: 2006/2007 Season

20 January 2007: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: Long (44 mins), De la Cruz (50 mins), Hunt (70 mins).
Sheffield United: Nade (77 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 23,956

Pos Team P Pts GD
6 Portsmouth 24 37 +10
7 READING 24 34 +2
8 Tottenham 24 33 -3
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Sonko (Bikey 43), Ingimarsson, De la Cruz, Little, Sidwell, Harper, Hunt (Convey 85), Lita, Long (Ki-Hyeon 73). Subs Not Used: Federici, Oster.
Sheffield United: Kenny, Kozluk, Davis (Bromby 64), Lucketti, Geary (Gillespie 53), Armstrong, Jagielka, Montgomery, Stephen Quinn, Stead (Nade 72), Hulse. Subs Not Used: Gerrard, Alan Quinn.
Reading: Sidwell.
Sheffield United: Jagielka. Sent Off: Gillespie (55 mins).
Ref: M Halsey (Lancashire).
Everyone got what they deserved today. Reading gained three points, Sheffield United got nothing, De la Cruz scored an amazing goal; and Kieth Gillespie, Wally Downes and Neil Warnock were sent off. Reading, weakened by the injury Doyle and Gunarsson, suffered further setbacks shortly before kick-off in losing Kitson and Shorey. For good measure Sonko hobbled off in the first half having fallen awkwardly. Reading fans could be forgiven if they felt it was not going to be their day. The odds were heavily stacked against them.

Neither side seemed capable of gaining the upper hand for most of the first half, but the most enterprising play came from Reading. Long burst through on the right but his could not find anyone with his cross. Murty and Little put over some decent crosses. De la Cruz seemed eager to get on the score sheet with couple of long range efforts. As half time approached the Royals generated a period of pressure. Space opened up in front of Murty who pushed forward and hit a scorching drive which had Kennny at full stretch to turn it round for a corner. Shortly before the interval Sonko collapsed in heap for the second time and was replaced by Bikey. After a lengthy delay Reading resumed their assault and Sidwell surged into the box and knocked the ball in for Long to finish at the near post. In the closing stages of the half United looked very wobbly at the back and Hunt had a header well saved by Kenny.

If United fans expected a spirited response they were to bitterly disappointed. Early in the half the impressive De La Cruz went on a mazy run across field released the ball and kept on running. Taking Harper's pass in his stride he drew Kenny and slipped the ball coolly into the net showing the composure in front of goal any striker would be proud of. Reading celebrated their goal as Warnock prepared his substitute Gillespie to enter the fray. Suddenly all hell broke loose. Hunt went down clutching his head and a melee of players and coaching staff clustered around the referee and his assistant. Gillespie, only on the field for a few seconds, rightly received a red card and then decided to resume his assault on Hunt! It was easy to see where he got his attitude from with his manager ranting as usual about an incident which had happened a few minutes earlier when Sidwell received a yellow card for a clumsy tackle. His antics were too much for Wally Downes who charged at him like an angry rhinoceros. Players squared up to each other all over the place. The referee sent Wally and Neil off and play resumed in a highly charged atmosphere. The United players had clearly lost the plot and a another sending off looked imminent. Lita was clearly revelling in it and was taken out by a very dangerous challenge by Davis who also got his just deserts injuring himself in the process and was forced to leave the field soon after.

Reading sealed their victory about twenty minutes from the end when Sidwell had his well struck shot blocked on the line and the energetic Hunt acrobatically tucked away the rebound. United finally created a chance with a lot help from the Reading defence who obligingly moved out to catch Nade offside and failed miserably. With only Hahnmenann to beat he made no mistake. It was too little too late. Seol came on for Long and tormented the United defence further. Little, not for the first time this season ballooned, a first time shot over from one of his clever passes back to the edge of the area. Convey came on and roamed around looked fresh and sharp and hit a good shot just wide. In the dying seconds Seol beat his man comprehensively on the half way line and only a good block with his legs prevented him adding a fourth.

A great win for Reading and another crucial three points won. De La Cruz, Hunt and Sidwell were superb, but it was team spirit and discipline that clinched the game today. Once again I can only marvel at the way Coppell produces performances like this even with weakened squad. Warnock on the other hand has once again spent heavily on mediocre players and can't produce anything like a decent team. United looked a good bet for relegation today and I have to say I would not miss them or their manager.
John Wells.

Great win and great punch up! You do have to laugh, from the East stand it appeared the fracas resulted from a classic right hook from Wally Hitman Downs flooring Warnock. The story then got better as tales of Wally Downs dad being an ex boxer inflated the story to Rocky proportions. According to the rumour mongers even Kingsley got involved and had his lions head knocked off!! So how disappointing on match of the day to see it all resulted from Wally giving Warnock a push on the shoulder and then a classic handbags at five paces ensured. After a drab first half the goal on the stroke of half time by the impressive Long was perfect timing and a good second half performance saw us comfortably home with yet another three points which again takes us to the dizzy nose bleeding height of 7th in the Premiership , simply unbelievable. Looks like our great run of no injuries has come to a crashing end and the squad will be severely stretched, but thank the lord we have a massive points haul in the bag. Sonko will be missed but I thought Bikey did very well as did De La Cruz my man of the match topped off by a great goal. Can't not comment on Lita, his contribution and workrate was good but as for his diving, it nothing short of embarrassing, have a hard look at yourself mate, it does you no good and your not even good at it. I'd now like to see us have a real go in the FA Cup, we've a really good chance to progress though it will be a very tough game at Brum next week. If we win that who knows, they way things are going at the moment nothing is impossible, it really isn't.
Nick Newbury

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