MATCH REPORT: 2007/2008 Season

12 January 2008: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: Harper (90 mins).
Aston Villa: Carew (22 mins), Laursen (55 mins), Carew (88 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 38,288

Pos Team P Pts GD
12 Tottenham 22 24 +2
13 READING 22 22 -17
14 Middlesbro 22 21 -17
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Gunnarsson, Ingimarsson, Shorey, De la Cruz (Convey 73), Harper, Cisse, Hunt, Kitson (Lita 76), Doyle (Long 89). Subs Not Used: Federici, Pearce.
Aston Villa: Carson, Gardner, Laursen, Davies, Bouma, Petrov, Reo-Coker, Barry, Young (Maloney 90), Carew (Salifou 90), Agbonlahor (Harewood 90). Subs Not Used: Taylor, Knight.
Reading: De la Cruz, Hahnemann.
Aston Villa: -
Ref: Uriah Rennie (S Yorkshire).
Reading continued their winless run, extending it to five games, with a 3-1 defeat against an impressive Villa side. With Sonko unavailable, and Reading's disasterous form away from home, Coppell opted for a packed defence of five players in an attempt to stop leaking goals. Unfortunately that strategy failed with the difference between the two sides being their effectiveness in front of goal. Reading had chances, though not as many as Villa, but failed to take them until injury time at the end of the game. Harper's goal - a near repeat of his solo effort against Liverpool - served only as a late consolation with Reading already well beaten.

The home side took a while to get going and Reading could have moved ahead midway through the first half but Doyle did the hard work only to blast the ball over the crossbar when he should have found the target. Instead Reading found themselves behind when a free kick was headed in from close range with a strong hint of off-side. Again Reading might have found the target but this time Dave Kitson shot wide before Reading's accuracy was again called into question with another Doyle effort into row Z. At the start of the second half the Royals were left to think what might have been. The ball came off a Villa player but Villa still managed to earn a corner which was prompty headed past Hahnemann to make it 0-2.

Reading refused to lie down and Kitson had two chances to pull Reading back into the game, only to be denied by the goalkeeper and a defender who blocked the shot. After chances down both ends with Hahnemann making a couple of good stops, Villa wrapped the game up with a straight forward through ball leaving a simple close range finish. Long's ball to Harper allowed Harper to notch up another classy Premiership goal but it came too late.


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

Reading's nightmarish away form continued as Aston Villa battled to a third successive Premier League win. Villa dominated set-pieces with the Reading defence unable to cope with the accuracy of Ashley Young's crosses... Reading created more chances throughout the 90 minutes but were denied by both the profligacy of their strike-force and the reactions of Villa keeper Scott Carson... James Harper's late strike - slotting home under the advancing Carson - did little to lift the dark mood of Royals manager Steve Coppell.
BBC Sport

Steve Coppell’s point that his side lacked the physical element required to negate Villa’s collective strength was impossible to deny. He tried to suppress Agbonlahor by placing Ulises de la Cruz as a man-marker but the young striker had too much to be subdued, while the movement and passing of the players around him stretched Reading... For the first 20 minutes Villa struggled to hit top gear and Reading’s fluid formation allowed for Stephen Hunt to support Kevin Doyle and Dave Kitson in attack. But Villa were able to penetrate the defence more frequently and to greater effect... A goal in stoppage time by Harper, from Shane Long’s pass, was scant consolation for Reading. “Their first goal was offside, and their second, a terrific corner, should not have been a corner in the first place,” bemoaned Coppell. “When you’re giving away three or four inches in height at every set-piece, it’s not easy.” And not when Villa are in such rampant form.
Brian Doogan, The Times