MATCH REPORT: 2007/2008 Season

30 January 2008: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: -
Chelsea: Ballack (32 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 41,171

Pos Team P Pts GD
15 Bolton 24 22 -10
16 READING 24 22 -20
17 Birmingham 24 20 -13
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Cisse, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Oster (Matejovsky 81), Harper, Hunt, Convey (Rosenior 85), Lita, Doyle. Subs Not Used: Federici, De la Cruz, Bennett.
Chelsea: Cech, Ferreira, Alex, Carvalho, Bridge, Wright-Phillips (Sidwell 85), Makelele, Ballack, Joe Cole, Anelka, Malouda (Pizarro 76). Subs Not Used: Cudicini, Sinclair, Ben-Haim.
Reading: -.
Chelsea: -.
Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral).
There was only ever going to be one result from this fixture and it was clear everyone knew that from the off. Chelsea are the in-form Premiership side and Reading are struggling at the foot of the form table - this defeat made it a run of eight games without a win and it was our fourth straight defeat. The poor run has seen Reading slump to 16th position - just two places and two points outside the drop zone. It is going to be a tough final third to the season. Reading certainly didn't shame themselves in one of the toughest fixtures of the season - the narrow victory may have been slightly generous to the Royals, but while the result was never in doubt, Reading put in a reasonable performance in the second half. However the truth was that Reading failed to make any chances throughout. With Kitson missing up front we struggled and all we could take from the game was a narrow defeat and a set of corners that failed to produce.

The Royals started brightly enough, winning an early corner, before Chelsea settled down into constant attack. Marcus Hahnemann showed his best and worst with two good saves followed by a flap at the ball which saw Reading need to hack the ball clear off the line. It was clearly just going to be a matter of time before the home side went ahead. With just over half an hour played the only goal of the game came when a cross saw Ballack out jump the entire Reading defence to head past Hahnemann. To Reading's credit they kept searching for the equaliser and won a whole series of corners at the end of the first half and into the second half but failed to make a break through, looking weak up front. We failed to force a save with our only rare efforts failing to find the target. When we did threaten to at last break through Lita failed to read it as a rare chance went begging. Perhaps Reading's best effort was an Oster free-kick that wasn't far from the target. However Chelsea looked comfortable and played out time to pick up a straight forward three points against a side now facing a relegation battle.


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Michael Ballack's first-half header helped Chelsea keep in touch with the leaders as Reading suffered their fifth successive Premier League defeat. Ballack headed in Paulo Ferreira's right-wing cross in the 32nd minute as the Blues dominated the first half. They were unable to score again in a nervy second half while Reading failed to make the most of several set-pieces. The result meant Chelsea equalled a club record of nine successive wins in all competitions set in 2005... after that initial foray, Reading spent the majority of the first half camped in their own half, trying to repel wave after wave of Chelsea attacks... Reading were still searching for their first away league win since April 2007 - but without the injured Dave Kitson, lacked a focal point up front where Leroy Lita and Kevin Doyle were spectators for most of the first half as their nine team-mates battled to clear their lines.
BBC Sport

Wright-Phillips needs to improve his finishing, as was demonstrated when he was twice denied when one-on-one with Marcus Hahnemann... With Chelsea unbeaten in 75 home league matches stretching back almost four years, Reading had travelled in hope rather than expectation and their plans were further disrupted shortly before kick-off when Dave Kitson was ruled out with a flu bug, an untimely setback given that he is known to feature in Capello’s thoughts. Given such problems, Reading did well to start brightly, with Leroy Lita bringing a good save from Cech in the second minute, but Chelsea soon assumed control...
Matt Hughes, The Times