MATCH REPORT: 2008/2009 Season

Reading: Federici (90 mins).
Cardiff: Chopra (89 mins).
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 22,770

Pos Team P Pts GD
1 Wolves 25 57 +24
2 READING 25 50 +29
3 Birmingham 25 50 +11
Reading: Federici, Rosenior, Ingimarsson, Duberry, Armstrong, Henry (Kebe 61), Harper, Cisse, Stephen Hunt, Noel Hunt (Long 62), Doyle. Subs Not Used: Andersen, Gunnarsson, Matejovsky.
Cardiff: Enckelman, McNaughton, Roger Johnson, Gyepes, Kennedy,Routledge, Rae, Ledley, Parry (Whittingham 86), Bothroyd, Chopra. Subs Not Used: Heaton, Eddie Johnson, McPhail, Comminges.
Reading: Noel Hunt, Armstrong.
Cardiff: Chopra, Roger Johnson.
Ref: Andy Hall (W Midlands).
Only the fully committed Reading and Cardiff City fans could fully appreciate the dramatic climax to this hard-fought and emotionally charged match. I watched in horror and disbelief as Chopra was allowed to put City ahead from a clearly offside position in the last minute. The feeling of disappointment and anger ultimately only served to heighten the sense of elation as goalkeeper Federici abandoned his goalkeeping responsibly in the sixth minute of additional time to equalise with virtually the last kick of the game. For City fans the same emotions must have been felt just as strongly, but in reverse. For Reading the point was a just reward for their determination and self belief which is now having an increasing impact on their success. These days it seems Reading are at their most dangerous in the face of adversity.

Reading started the game positively and dominated the opening phase of the game. On both flanks Reading were producing good crosses but the City back four made their height advantage count and dealt well with anything thrown at them. It must have been frustrating for Doyle to find his attempts to win the ball in the air thwarted by a series of unfair challenges. Doyle to his credit just got on with it. On the other hand, City a big physical side, seemed to tumble at the slightest contact and the referee obligingly rewarded them with free kicks. Having said that, Duberry did tend to dive in a little too clumsily for my liking. Reading were encouraged by some poor handing by Enklemen mid way through the half when under pressure but there were no clear scoring opportunities for either side. The biggest talking point of the first half was a heavy late challenge by Chopra on Federici. From where I was sitting it seemed clear that the city forward had lost control of the ball and his desperate lunge was either an expression of frustration an attempt to intimidate. Either way the booking he received was justified.

This first half had been very tight and competitive but the second half was much more open as City clearly fancied the chances of snatching a goal. They came very close on forty six minutes when Ledley ran through the centre of the Reading defence and poked the ball wide with only Federici to beat. Almost immediately City 'keeper Enklemann was forced to parry a shot from Stephen Hunt and Harper drove the rebound wide from the edge of the box. The game opened up with both teams looking dangerous breaking out from their own half. Resolute defending kept the scores level typified by an outstanding block by Stephen Hunt. Long replaced Noel Hunt who was in danger of picking up a second yellow card, and Kebe replaced Henry who had shown some nice touches early in the game but had faded away as the game progressed. Ledley came close with a long range effort and Enkleman made a good block from a sharp turn and shot from close range by Doyle. As full time approached I felt Reading had done just enough to earn a victory but a draw was the most likely outcome, which it was, but not in a way anyone could have anticipated. The fact that Chopra scored from an offside position late in the game was even more galling in the knowledge he should have received another yellow in the second half off for illegally preventing Federici's attempt to release the ball early. City had clearly done their homework and seen the threat of Federici's swift and accurate distribution in recent games and made a point of illegally impeding the 'keeper on three or four occasions. Coppell diplomatically referred to this ploy as 'gamesmanship' (in other words cheating). I would be interested to hear what Dave Jones had to say about it. Stronger and more consistent refereeing would have prevented a lot of ill feeling generated during and after the game - but it wouldn't have been anywhere near as entertaining!

I felt proud of the performance of the Royals today. I also felt proud of the reaction of my six year old daughter, attending her first match at the Madejski Stadium, for the way she bounced up and down on her seat after City had scored, shouting for Reading to equalise, as all around her, sulky and pessimistic Reading fans slipped away to the car park just when their team needed them most. Those who left early also received their just desserts! As for the City fans, having helped to create a fantastic atmosphere, were let down by a small section of idiots. I agree the celebrations of some of the Reading players in front of the City fans were provocative, but no more so than the coins and verbal abuse hurled at them during the game. It has to be said the ungracious and inaccurate comments of their manager did not help in any way to restore some of the dignity of the club as a whole. His claims that the referee favoured Reading, and that his goalkeeper did not have make a save, were blinkered to say the least. I suggest he turns his attention to the antics of his fans for their post match indiscretions and the antics of his team during the game.

It is difficult to predict Coppell's selection for the next game but I would like to see Kebe and Bikey replace Henry and Duberry. Southampton away will be a very different proposition and might also be a game where Matejovsky's ability to keep the ball would be particularly beneficial. Saints as we know from bitter recent experience are not going to let us have the ball very often.
John Wells

And so we all set off for the Madejski on a beautiful boxing day fresh from our stunning win at Birmingham with a real buzz about the stadium and spring in our steps. The packed Cardiff end added to the spice and we all anticipated a cracking game and another three points with a victory as we gain momentum to power to the top of the league . Cue typical Reading FC home performance after a result like last week .With one minute to go after Chopra scored their goal most of us were distraught , thinking oh no only Reading do this to their fans , but who'd have thought the miracles of miracles Feddy Federici would pop up to grab the winner with the last kick of the game !! Unbebloodybelievable !!! This was another poor home performance against all be it a good in form Cardiff team . I do feel we're a better team away from home at present as we're better on the counter break when teams have a go at us . At home we tend sit too deep and often resort to the long ball up to Doyle or Nhunty rather that playing the ball on the deck . We're best when our wingers are on song and recently I don't think Shunt as been on his game , probably thinking of the dreaded January transfer window . But get out of jail we did and on to St Marys it is Sunday for pray to god is revenge against a Saints side who've not won since they whooped us . Inconsistency could well prove to be our downfall , brilliant one week , not good the next . We have to get that consistency going and though that sounds very hard after four straight wins we all know what that means . I think we will win Sunday , then a break for the FA Cup then the build up to the Wolves game at the end of Jan thought some tough games beforehand starting with Watford . What ever happens I think we're in for some fun , not bad this Championship is it !!! URRZZ
Nick Newbury

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Reading manager Steve Coppell: "I've seen him (Adam Federici) score for us before in a pre-season game two seasons ago at Bromley. We got an injury so he played outfield. "He does that regularly in training. All goalkeepers are frustrated centre forwards but he is a good player and a natural athlete. "If you look at the goal, as the ball is delivered and Michael Duberry has a great header which a defender saves on the line with his chest, during that header Federici is on the floor and the next minute he is up on his feet to finish it. "It was like goalkeeping practice where they make one save and have to get up to make a second. I'm sure that helped him."
BBC Sport