MATCH REPORT: 2005/2006 Season

Reading: Kitson (40 mins), Murty (84 mins, pen).
QPR: Furlong (72 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 23,156

Pos Team P Pts GD
1 READING 46 106 +67
2 Sheff Utd 46 90 +30
3 Watford 46 81 +24
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Convey (Gunnarsson 85), Harper, Sidwell, Oster (Hunt 61), Doyle (Long 85), Kitson. Subs Not Used: Stack, Makin.
QPR: Paul Jones (Cole 45), Bignot, Shittu, Santos, Milanese, Ainsworth, Cook, Bailey (Ray Jones 68), Langley, Donnelly, Furlong. Subs Not Used: Evatt, Munday, Howell.
Reading: -
QPR: -
Referee: D Drysdale (Lincolnshire).

Graeme Murty's first goal of the season ensured a perfect end to a perfect season for the Royals. Murty's late penalty strike was enough to secure the win and see Reading end the season on 106 points - claiming the record for the most points ever accumulated in a football league season. The goal was a very special moment indeed with a full house calling for Murty to take the spot kick after a fortunate hand-ball in the QPR area. Murty relished the chance to answer the Reading fans and confidently hammered the ball right into the centre of the net.

Despite QPR's position in the Championship table they were close to becoming one of the few teams to take anything away from the Madejski Stadium this season. Before Murty's triumphant goal, the visitors could have gone ahead themselves after drawing level midway through the second half. With the scores at 1-1 QPR had the upper hand for a period of time. and their fans thought perhaps they had snatched the win after a close range shot went flying into the side netting. In the first half they should have scored after Hahnemann was forced to save a powerful effort with his legs and the rebound was luckily headed over the Reading crossbar from close range when QPR looked certain to score. This wasn't the usual formula to Reading's season with QPR having nothing to play for and enjoying the chance to perform against Premiership opposition. Both sides had their moments in a game that could have gone either way until Reading's decisive finish.

However, it was the Royals that played the best football of the afternoon. There was no better example of just how good we are than the goal that putting Reading up just before half time. Convey went on a superb run down the left wing and exchanged passes with Nicky Shorey who had cut inside. Convey's long ball across goal was crossed back in from the right by John Oster, leaving Dave Kitson with a simple tap in from close range. It was a beautiful passage of football that left the QPR defence dazed and confused. We've seen that a lot this season and it was great to see it once more before the season came to an end. After the break Reading looked set to march to victory and perhaps secure the three goals that would have seen a grand total of 100 for the season. Kevin Doyle broke free with just the goalkeeper to beat but unusually came off second best as he ran at goal. Stephen Hunt is always a welcome player to see come off the bench, and nearly scored what would have been goal of the season, with a spectacular over-head kick on the edge of the area. The effort was on target but saw the keeper pull off another excellent save to tip the ball over the crossbar.

There was always the possibility that QPR might get back into the game after Reading failed to maintain a strong period of pressure. The equaliser came on seventy-two minutes with a quick QPR goal that threatened to ruin the day. However, after this season, Reading fans always expect us to bounce back and there still seemed little possibility we wouldn't come up with the goods once more. We'd hoped for a penalty before the game to enable Murty to finally get on the scoresheet and you felt that perhaps the referee had actually read the script this time. There was a clear handball in the area, but QPR weren't happy as the ball was more blasted at arm than anything else. The stage was set for Reading's captain to steal the headlines.

Murty buried it and the stadium errupted. Despite his best efforts to run away, Kingsley was buried underneath a pile of Reading players as the celebrations got underway. After the promotion celebrations at Leicester and the following 5-0 stuffing of Derby to claim the Championship title this was another chance for full scale celebrations - once more. At the final whistle the trophy was presented to the entire team and management staff who truly deserve it after such an incredible season. Steve Coppell was delighted and - just as he did at Leicester - took a long run-up before hurling his jacket into the North Stand. The players did a lap of honour to raptuous applause and the season, the best ever in the club's history by a long, long way, had finally come to a very satisfying end.

The fitting glorious climax to a magnificent season came in the eighty-fourth minute when skipper Murty smashed the ball into the net from the penalty spot to give Reading the win they needed to set a season's points total record that is likely to stand for a long time. It was Murty's first goal for around five seasons and resulted in mass celebrations which included Kingsley being buried under the entire Reading team. If there had been anything at stake today other than a points record, we might have seen a different game. It turned out to be quite an open eventful game with Rangers doing their best to spoil the party assisted by an extremely lenient referee. (Why he didn't book a few Rangers players was a complete mystery.)

The supporter's respective choices for player of the season said it all. For Reading Doyle, who received his award just before the kick-off, was voted number one, closely followed by Little and Convey. Without doubt the most creative and exciting trio of players in the Championship this year. For Rangers it was Danny Shittu. (Never was a player more aptly named.) In the opening minutes he hoofed the ball almost vertically up in the air three time in succession, and spent most of the game scowling and fouling.

There was no real pattern to the game, Lee Cook made some darting runs with the ball which the Royals defence and midfield found hard to handle. Doyle wriggled through the Rangers defence to sting Jones's fingers with a rasping strike, and Shorey followed up to send a low shot past the far post. Hahnemann was forced to save with his legs and Langley headed wide of an open goal. Sidwell got behind the defence to put over a dangerous cross which was cleared by Santos. Furlong spun and hit a good shot which Hahnemann did well to deflect away. Reading's first goal came five minutes before half time, and was typical of the swift incisive football of this season. Hahnemann's excellent throw sent Convey scurrying away down the left wing inside his own half. The run took him deep into the Rangers half before he floated over a cross to the far post where it was met by Oster who had made good ground to get into the box. Oster calmly side-footed back across for Kitson to tap in with Rangers defence all over the place.

The second half saw Donnelly and Cook playing some neat football in midfield but Rangers were not really creating anything inside the box. The visitors finally brought the game to life when the towering sub Ray Jones nodded down a free-kick to Furlong who finished well with a low shot just inside the far post. Reading, stung into retaliation responded with a shot from Convey into the side netting. Suddenly the record seemed to matter and Rangers continued to put Reading under pressure. They too hit the side netting and Hahnemann had to scramble after the ball when he dropped a cross under pressure. By now Hunt was on, and as usual he made things happen. His overhead kick from the edge of the box produced a fine same from substitute 'keeper Cole. From the resulting corner Shorey's shot was handled and there was no doubt about he choice of taker! The kick was delayed for some time while Rangers players lead by Shittu pathetically attempted to distract Murty from his task. He answered them in the best possible way. Reading had their record, Murty had his goal, and Rangers got what they deserved.

At the final whistle the fans were treated to the sight of the presentation of the trophy and a lap of honour. Coppell threw his coat into the crowd in an act of unprecedented celebration on his behalf and the players were joined by their young children to make their day complete. What a year to be a Royals fan. Massive celebrations will no doubt follow tomorrow and there will be a summer of reflecting on some great games and the joy of anticipation of top flight football to follow next season.
John Wells


The night before the game I went out with my Dad for a trip which saw us go from the Madejski to the old Elm Park area. This was the first time I'd been back since the Sheffield Wednesday friendly and it felt an honour. It appealed to me to see how far we have come since leaving for the Mad Stad and it was incredible. I can't have imagined the likes of Rooney going to Elm Park and it just wouldn't have been right. The tight narrow streets weren't the nicest surroundings, but it felt like a traditional football club. Today was confirmation of what we already knew and to be honest the game itself isn't one I'll remember for a long time. The build-up however was surreal. After getting up to help STAR Raise the Hoops it felt right that we should get it going properly. The players appreciated our efforts and showed why they are in the Premiership. Top quality day with one of the fattest linesman in the planet to laugh at. Also, the presentation was great, we deserve all we get this year. Murty scoring finished the season in style.
Ian Frampton, North Stander

As so the curtain slowly comes down on a truly unbelievable season and just like the fairy tale it's been all season, it just goes to prove that fairy tales can indeed come true as Graeme Murty nearly burst the net as he blasted home the winning goal from the penalty spot. That goal and the way he took the penalty will go down as the moment when the icing went on the cake in such a great way and will be a spoken about for ever more. One hundred and six points!! One hundred and six bloody points!! I can't help thinking we will never see a season like it again but as we go forward into the promised land that is the Premiership who knows? Who can predict where and what we'll be in five years time let alone ten, but if you'd have said ten years ago we'd have had a season like this and achieved what we have you'd have been sent to Broadmoor.
The players, manager, chairman, backroom staff and of course the fans deserve every iota of credit heaped upon them all, for have no doubt everybody has played their part. To think our next game will be in the Premiership is both exciting and daunting, but who can ever remember looking forward to the fixture list coming out with so much anticipation.
Going back to the players it's quite impossible for me to describe adequately their achievements and how well they have all played. Hahnemann has been a rock simply outstanding, Shorey and Murty have been brilliant with Murty showing tremendous leadership and I hope he gets his chance next season, Sonko and Ingimarsson unbreachable colossuses, with both I think playing every minute this season and only getting one booking each, Sidwell, Harper, Convey all reached heights they probably didn't realise they could achieve, Gunnarsson who never ever let anybody down when he played, Hunt, Oster and Long who had to be patient but never sulked and took their chance when it came, Kitson and Lita great up front with a bagful of goals, with Kitson probably not getting the credit he deserves, and finally but not least Little and Doyle.
Little though dogged with injuries was quite exceptional and for me the man who created so many goals one of the secrets of our success and more often than not on the end of those wonderful crosses was the bargain of the century, Kevin Doyle, you beauty, what a player, what talent who has the world at his feet.
High points of the season, where do you start, that amazing game against Crystal Palace when we won 3-2 with the late goal from Sonko, the home win against Sheff Utd with Gunny Iceman heading the last minute winning goal, getting a text off my best mate Bob at 5 o'clock in the morning in Australia saying we'd beat Wolves 2-0 on boxing day, Harper's equaliser against Palace away, beating Derby 5-0 to win the Championship and the pitch invasion after, Murty's winning penalty yesterday, but for me the moment, the one defining moment, was Leicester away, when we sealed promotion and that announcement on the PA, announcing that Reading FC were officially promoted. I will never forget that moment in the season of a lifetime and you're not dreaming it really all did happen!
See you all next season in the Promised Land.
Nick Newbury

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