MATCH REPORT: 2008/2009 Season

Reading: -
Preston: -.
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 19,570

Pos Team P Pts GD
1 Wolves 32 63 +22
2 READING 31 59 +32
3 Birmingham 31 57 +10
Reading: Federici, Rosenior, Duberry, Pearce, Armstrong, Kebe (Noel Hunt 71), Harper (Matejovsky 73), Cisse, Stephen Hunt, Doyle (Long 76), Lita. Subs Not Used: Gunnarsson, Andersen.
Preston: Lonergan, Jones, St. Ledger, Mawene, Nolan, Sedgwick, McKenna, Nicholson, Wallace, Elliott (Brown 76), Parkin. Subs Not Used: Chaplow, Carter, Whaley, Neal. Booked: St. Ledger, Wallace, Parkin.
Reading: Matejovsky.
Preston: St. Ledger, Wallace, Parkin.
Ref: Mike Jones (Cheshire).
Preston will no doubt feel they earned a well deserved point from this dour and scrappy encounter. but in fact they offered nothing more than stubborn resistance supplemented with some cynical fouls to disrupt the flow of the game. They succeeded in gaining a point but they hardly looked capable of mounting a serious challenge for promotion or even maintain their position in the top six. Reading dominated possession and created the only clear chances of the game, both of which came in the opening twenty five minutes. Matejovsky's late appearance as subsitute underlined the shortcomings in Reading's performance.The timing and weight of his passing opened up the Preston defence and gave his team mates time and space on the ball. In contrast Parkin for North End lumbered about, winding up opponents with clumsy challenges and verbal exchanges. He crowned his performance lashing a half chance over from ten yards and he toppled backwards like a beached whale.

Lita looked lively from the start. He burst through in the second minute but was caught offside. A minute later got behind the Preston back four but couldn't find a Reading player with his cross. Reading were probing down the flanks and on eleven minutes Kebe cut inside and ran onto loose ball which he hit with considerable power and accuracy forcing a good save from Lonergan. It was to be another typically erratic performance from Kebe. He made a tremendous recovery run and tackle when Preston threatened on the break but also gave the ball away needlessly at times. Reading's next chance came on twenty five minutes. Doyle sent Lita through and again the shot was struck with considerable power and accuracy requiring good reactions from Lonergan to keep it out. It was a good effort but had he kept the ball down it might have had better chance of beating the tall 'keeper. Preston managed a looping header which drifted wide but generally their attacks were easily repelled by the Reading defence. Their passing tended to be overhit and hopeful when they attempted to break out of their own half. There was a worrying moment for Reading fans when Lonergan came off his line to clear and flattened Doyle who did not move for over a minute. Thankfully he recovered but he was a bit groggy for a while and was eventually substituted in the second half. Preston had one more scare before half time as Steven Hunt's cross swirled towards the far post and Lonergan lost his bearings as the ball dropped under the bar. Kebe was on hand to take advantage when the 'keeper palmed it down but his shot was blocked on the line and after the ball had ricocheted around it was cleared.

The second half saw Preston systematically set about frustrating Reading defending in numbers and employing a range of fouls to snuff out dangerous situations. The referee preferred to lecture than take action so they persisted. They were also smart enough to break things up as Reading broke out of defence which probably denied the Royals some promising opportunities but was not perceived to be as serious and trip on the edge of the box. As the game wore on Reading became more anxious and the quality of their passing deteriorated further and their pressure did not produce the chances required.

Reading fans were finally given something to cheer about after the final whistle as the news of a defeat for Wolves was announced.allowing the Royals to erode their lead at the top again in spite or dropping two points at home. Goals are going to be hard to come by as the season progresses which means patience will be required and although Reading have gone three games without scoring, they have not conceded either. Automatic promotion is no longer a battle between three teams. Swansea and Cardiff are closing fast, but eventually they too will find that pressure takes its toll.
John Wells

You wouldn't think it could be much worse than last weeks 0-0 at QPR but at the so called fortress that is the Mad Stad yet another load of rubbish from Reading today against a very dour average Preston. Can anybody explain what so called professional players earning thousands of pounds a week ,do during training each week ? Do they practise slicing the ball out of play , hoofing it as far they can away from a Reading player , trying to cross a ball into the box ,even taking rubbish throw ins ?? This was awful today and only until the last ten minutes when Matejovsky came on did we start to look remotely threatening . Sir Steve has to shake things up as we look so poor recently and now ,not including the Wolves own goal ,have not scored for over six hours and four games ! There will probably be pathetic excuses about the pitch but with our rivals slipping up today , today there simply was no excuses we simply must get better and get away from hoofing and back to passing .
Nick Newbury

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Reading manager Steve Coppell: "Our home form has been such that teams are not having a go at us, which wasn't the case earlier in the season. Now we have just got to adjust and see what we can do about it. "We needed more precision in our finishing when we got opportunities and better deliveries from the wide areas but all in all I am OK with it. We were the team looking to go forward and to have a go. "There are always going to be highs and lows. It's a 46-game season not 31."
BBC Sport