MATCH REPORT: 2005/2006 Season

Reading: Lita (54 mins).
Plymouth: Evans (21 mins), Chadwick (90 mins).
Half Time: 0-1
Attendance: 16,836

Pos Team P Pts GD
20 C Palace 1 0 -1
21 READING 1 0 -1
22 Watford 1 0 -1
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Little (Kitson 76), Sidwell, Harper, Convey (Hunt 78), Lita, Doyle. Subs Not Used: Stack, Oster, Makin.
Plymouth: Larrieu, Barness, Brevett, Aljofree, Doumbe, Gudjonsson, Norris, Buzsaky (Djordjic 90), Wotton, Capaldi, Evans (Chadwick 85). Subs Not Used: McCormick, Taylor, Connolly.
Reading: Doyle, Little.
Plymouth: Wotton.
Referee: P Taylor (Hertfordshire).

A Leroy Lita goal, on his competitive debut for the Royals, wasn't enough as Plymouth took the full three points with a late winner at the Madejski Stadium. The opening day of the 2005/2006 season ended in disappointment for Reading after they looked to be heading for at least a point in the dying stages of the game. Four of the new signings accompanied Dave Kitson on the bench, with new boys Leroy Lita and Kevin Doyle starting up front in an otherwise unchanged line-up from last season.

Things looked promising for the Royals early on with some tidy football leaving Plymouth on the defensive. Chances were few and far between with Shorey putting in a free kick that needed a save and Doyle hitting one just over. The visitors took the lead midway through the first half, against the run of play, when a low cross from the left was put in from well inside the box. The goal took the wind out of Reading's sails and we started to struggle to break through the Plymouth defence. Convey was having an excellent game, but managed to waste a couple of set pieces by hitting them long as Reading failed to put Argyle under any serious pressure.

The second half saw Reading back on top and a quick thinking short free-kick from Convey on the right saw Murty cross to Lita who headed home deep inside the box to make it 1-1 on 54 minutes. His celebration was as good as the goal as Reading looked to be on their way to taking some points from the game. The Royals were playing some good football and an impressive move saw Lita nearly put Reading ahead until his shot was charged down. Little, after a quiet first half, steamed down the right wing and nearly created a goal after beating three players, and Sonko really should have scored but somehow managed to put a close range header over the bar. Lita continued to impress and stuck the ball into the back of the net from a very tight angle on the left, however play had already been stopped and the effort didn't count.

Kiston and Hunt came off the bench with quarter of an hour left - but we would probably have been much better off leaving on Little and Convey who they replaced. Somehow Reading failed to take their chances and in the end it was Plymouth who stole the win in injury time, when the ball came over from the right and was driven in low past Hahnemann. Kitson went down under a challenge in the area after Plymouth's winner, prompting calls for a penalty, but it wasn't to be our day. Despite the defeat on the first day of the season there were plenty of positive signs to take from the game. Plymouth were a solid side but might consider themselves lucky after scoring with their only chances. Doyle was lively up front and Lita looked worth the money on this showing with plenty more to come.

Following report by Ali Costelloe:
Come kick-off, approximately 4,000 Plymouth fans were cheering on their team, as they attacked towards the North stand - Meanwhile Reading were kicking towards the away fans in the South Stand. Reading definately started the brightest, with Nicky Shorey's free-kick tipped over the bar in the sixth minute. Kevin Doyle was lucky not to be sent off after kicking Hasney Aljofree in the face while trying to reach for a ball that the Plymouth defender had been shepherding out of play.

In the opening 20 minutes, I would say Reading had the best of the play, but Plymouth nabbed their opener on the 21st minute, against the run of play, as Mickey Evans converted Rufus (Dogs name) Brevett's cross from the left side. After this, I thoroughly expected Plymouth to close down the game and to stop us playing, and to some extent they did. We spent most of the rest of the half with the ball, but never actually doing anything with it. This is the Reading I know and love, but its time we actually started making space for ourselves. Plymouth on the other hand, when they got the ball, they quickly made runs forwards, and ended up playing the rest of the game on the counter attack. Tactics wise, they had it spot on. With 10 minutes of the second half remaining, Kevin Doyle was unlucky not to put a header on target, after meeting it only 6 yards out.

At half time, the stats read:
Possession: Reading 55% Plymouth 45%
Shots: Reading 3 Plymouth 5
Corners: Reading 1 Plymouth 2

The second half saw a much more positive attitude from Reading, with Kevin Doyle hitting wide after making a good run, and Little heading over from a good cross Reading levelled the scores in the 55 minute with Leroy Lita meeting a Graeme Murty cross, sending the Reading crowd wild. With another 35 minutes to go, and Reading looking by far the more positive side, the Madejski Stadium crowd could see another win in their sights. Soon after this, Kevin Doyle drew a save from Plymouth's keeper, Roman Larrieu, after meeting a cross which was heading for the bottom corner. In the 65 minute, Coppell sent on Dave Kitson for Glen Little, with Stepher Hunt replacing the fast improving Bobby Convey. This was ultimately to be Reading's downfall, as the wingers were by far the most effective part of the team until Coppell took them off. Reading now resorted to Long balls, which the three pronged strikeforce of Doyle, Kitson and Lita (Costing 1,230,000) failed to really do anything about. Lita fired home again from a tight angle with about 20 minutes remaining, but unfortunately, the linesman had flagged him offside.

Lita looked like he would meet a Hahnemann goal kick with about 15 minutes to go, but daftly left it, leaving the oncoming Larrieu to scoop up the ball, when a simple tough would have taken it over him, and into the net. With about 8 minutes to go, Lita was again in a similar situation, but Paul Wotton's professional foul saw Reading with a free kick about 25 yards out, rather then a free run on goal... Wotton escaped with only a booking.

Bobby Williamson took Mickey Evans off for Nick Chadwick with 5 minutes to go, a straight Striker for Striker swap. As the clock ticked down, with Reading pushing for a late Winner, Argyle hit Reading with a sucker punch. A free kick was won the the Argyle right, as two players jumped and collided.Nick Chadwick snuck in to meet Buzsaky's low cross, and steered the ball around Marcus Hahnemann, sending Plymouth's following crazy. The final score stood at 2-1 to Plymouth, with Mickey Evans and Nick Chadwick nabbing the Pilgrim's goals, and Leroy Lita hitting Reading's only goal.

In retrospect, Reading had the tactics all wrong, where Plymouth knew exactly what to do. As Reading pushed, the Plymouth players knew that they weren't going to score on their own terms, and had to attack on the counter. Quick wing play by Plymouth saw Reading opened up, and some foolish challenges saw lots of free-kicks given away on the wings, which Argyle made count. Reading didn't exactly play badly, the team didn't look like they had gelled, and to switch formations with 25 minutes to go was reckless, at best.

Reading have never played well with the 4-3-3 formation, and with this, we left ourselves open in midfield. Plymouth had us sussed, and their dogged defending meant we were never going to get many shots on target. Reading on the other hand were loose at the back. Plymouth movement saw poor marking from the Royals back pairing, and I would have thought Sonko and Ingimarsson would have played together long enough to know their roles. I think the team will look more of a unit if Coppell plays with Convey and Little on the wings in future, rather than playing 4-3-3. Regarding the atmosphere, Plymouth made plenty of noise in the first half, but we hardly heard a peep out of them in the second, until they scored. In the first half, Reading didn't make much noise after the Plymouth goal, and in the second half, we were pretty chirpy. When Plymouth scored 3/4 of Reading's end upped sticks and went home.

Player Ratings:
Hahnemann - 7 - Not at fault for either of the goals, but needs to communicate with his back pairing to keep the defence watertight.
Murty - 7 - He was his usual self really, barking instructions at his teammates, making last ditch tackles, and doing his job well - Nothing special here.
Shorey - 7 - Solid again, but wasn't his usual self with set pieces. He needs to be bold enough to tell Convey when the kick is in a position that suits him.
Sonko - 6- Some lovely skills from him, and pretty good in the air. Again, he let himself down with his marking. Failed to deal with low crosses
Ingimarsson - 6 - Swept up most of the stuff on the floor, but was anonymous in the air.
Convey - 7 - His set pieces were poor, but his general wing play was superb - he created space for himself, was nippy, tricky, and everything you want a winger to be. Alas, he simply didn't make it count.
Little - 6- Tricky to deal with, and made a lot of work for the plymouth defenders. Unfortunately, he let the ball run away from him too often, and didn't put many quality crosses in.
Harper - 7- He got in the way of the Plymouth midfield, got stuck in and generally made a nuisance of himself.
Sidwell - 6- He wasn't his usual self, he wasn't as creative as he often is, and delayed in releasing the ball at the right times - I wasn't impressed by him today, but he didn't do anything stupid.
Doyle - 7 - He got stuck in, created space, ran at the plymouth defence, and did everything you could expect of him, making his competitive debut in England, having only previously played in the Eircom League. If I was Coppell (Which I'm not) Then I would be grooming him for a place on the wing.
Lita - 8 - If anybody gave Plymouth problems, it was him. he was strong in the air, kept the ball on the ground when he could, and didn't give it away. He was always creating space for himself, and didn't once waste the ball. He's looking a good player for the price we payed for him.

Following report by John Wells:
Reading were robbed of a deserved win by a soft goal in stoppage time. Although a disappointing day for Royals fans they should draw some comfort from an encouraging second half performance. New signing Lita took his goal well and dsiplayed all the attributes of a top class striker. He competed well for the ball in the air, his touch was good and his movement was excellent. He looks very sharp in the box and above all he behaves like a player who expcets to score and expects to win!

Plymouth took the lead midway through the first half completely against he run of play. Murty and Little allowed Brevitt to make an overlapping run and whip in a cross for the lumbering Evans to poke home at the near post. (Questions need to be asked about how he was allowed to get to it first.) Apart from a well flighted Shorey free kick which was acrobatically tipped over by Plymouth's 'keeper, Reading didn't look like finding the net in the opening forty- five minutes.

The second half was a different story as the game opened up and came to life. Reading should have equalised when an unchallenged Ingamarsson headed over. Plymouth threatened too when Hahnemann had to come of his line smartly to end a promising Argyle attack through to middle. Little produced a run which left several Plymouth defenders trailing in his wake before sliding the ball to Doyle who took it on and fired wide. Kitson was warming up when Lita superbly headed the equaliser. Kitson resumed his seat on the bench and Reading pressed for the winner. Sonko had a good chance and a good move involving Sidwell, Doyle, and Little provided and opening for LIta which resulted in an Argyle defender hoofiing the ball away with the 'keeper stranded. Plymouth to be fair did not sit back and provided stubborn rersitance.

Little and Convey were replaced by an unfit Kitson and new boy Hunt. Neither made much of an impression and the game looked likely to end in a draw. Injustice was done when a poorly hit free kick was scooped goalwards awkwardly by sub Chadwick and the ball bobbled past Hahnemann. The very large cointingent of noisy Argyle fans celebrated as the home fans disappeared muttering and shaking their heads.

Reading still look to have play off potential. Plymouth don't. Reading will be up there again in the hunt again this season, but this time with greater attacking potential. I only hope someone in midfield is capable of providing the ammunition for Lita because he was getting into some great positions today.


A disappointing result but some very positive points to come from the game. Let's get rid of the negatives first and they both resulted in goals. Firstly we gave away too many free kicks in good areas for the opposition. Yes the ref. may have been over zealous, but we could all see what he was like. Secondly we must mark tighter in the box. Whilst their second had an element of good fortune about it, there was nobody marking the player who put the ball in the net. Thirdly get the centre backs to practise their headers in front of goal. The Ice man should have hit the target twice and Sonko missed the best chance of the game simply by being too aggressive in the way that he attacked the ball.
Now the positives - Lita looked good - he made himself available showed good control didn't get caught offside and scored a good goal. Doyle also had a good game. He worked hard and obviously is a trier and should progress well. Kitson will need to be at his best to get his place back automatically. I also thought that Little and Convey had good games though Convey first three deadball kicks were awful. He was however full of running and started the season well. I was a bit surprised when the manager took them both off and certainly the four three three did not seem to work as well. Sometimes changes work for you and sometimes they don't - clearly today they did not. What we do need is to get into winning ways quickly and so the game on Tuesday provides us with a good opportunity - let's hope we don't waste it!
Ken C

There were positives to take from the game in terms of some good performances from Lita, Doyle and Convey. But many of the same old problems remain; the defence falls asleep twice and concedes 2 avoidable goals, the midfield still has the knack of going missing, there were still too many misplaced passes and aimless hoofs upfield. When Reading have the ball, our opponents press and harry us in the middle of the park, when our opponents have it they have huge flippin' great gaps to run into and plenty of time to decide what to do with possession. The midfield lacks bite and has done for a long while, the midfield has been the main problem for a long time. Lita showed on Saturday what he can do with decent service and Doyle improved as the game wore on and can only get better and sharper, as will Kitson when fully fit. But they need a midlield that is competitive and able to create for them and support them. Our new Icelandic signing (who's name escapes me!) may be the bite it needs allowing either Sidwell or Harper the freedom to deliver the support/creativity but until he's fit this continuous problem in the centre of the park is the team's biggest deficiency and will continue to cost us if not addressed properly.
Caversham Royal

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