MATCH REPORT: 2008/2009 Season

Reading: Noel Hunt (20 mins), Doyle (68 mins, 75 mins).
Derby: -
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 18,724

Pos Team P Pts GD
2 Birmingham 16 31 +8
3 READING 16 30 +20
4 Sheff Utd 16 28 +11
Reading: Hahnemann, Armstrong, Ingimarsson, Bikey, Cisse (Matejovsky 78), Stephen Hunt, Harper (Gunnarsson 79), Rosenior, Kebe, Doyle, Noel Hunt (Long 69). Subs Not Used: Henry, Andersen.
Derby: Bywater, Connolly, Albrechtsen (Davis 53), Stewart, Addison, Green, Teale (Barazite 66), Commons, Nyatanga, Villa, Hulse (Ellington 76). Subs Not Used: Carroll, Kazmierczak.
Ref: D Mattison (Leeds).
Reading comfortably and deservedly took all three points today in spite of possibly the worst display of refereeing we are likely to see for a long time. I don't usually subscribe to the view that referees are biased, they tend to be incompetent, but Mr Mathirson made so many important decisions incorrectly in Derby's favour I was beginning to question his integrity. Before this game Derby had not been beaten since August so a tough game was expected, but the confidence bourne out of recent good performances gave Reading the edge they needed to sweep aside their opponents. The points were finally wrapped up in some style by Kevin Doyle in the seventy seventh minute with brilliant left footed strike from outside the box which curled inside the far post giving Bywater no chance. The goal was particularly gratifying as it followed an incredible decision by Mathieson to award Derby a free kick in their own penalty area after Claude Davis had flattened Ingimarsson as he went up for a header.

Reading struggled to take control of the game in the opening ten minutes. Derby were well organised and their forwards were getting into promising positions with well timed runs. However, whenever danger threatened Bikey swaggered over to snuff it out with an ease bordering on arrogance. In the thirteenth minute the referee made his first awful decision when a Reading free kick skimmed of a Derby defenders head into the net and he awarded a free kick against Reading for shirt pulling as the Derby defenders appealed for a push! I was some way form the action but it seemed harsh to disallow the goal. Justice was not long in arriving. Steven Hunt whipped in a corner from the right and brother Noel once again timed his run to perfection to head in at the near post. Hunt's ability in the air was also put to good use with a couple of strong defensive near post headers from Derby corners. Kebe almost scored the goal of the season when he volleyed narrowly wide from a very long diagonal ball from Armstrong. Cisse was getting through a lot of work in midfield but also getting forward and posing a threat in the Derby penalty area. He might have gone on to score had he not been cynically hauled down by Addison on the halfway line. A little closer to goal and a red card might have been shown instead of a yellow. Harper reacted well to dispossess Derby's Green as the ball fell to him in front of goal. It was superb midfield play to get back and stick tight to his man. Hulse was probing for Derby, but Bikey's dominance was underlined when his mere presence was sufficient to worry the Derby striker into taking his eye of the ball as he ran onto a ball down the line. ( I think it was fair to say he 'bottled it' - not that I blame him!)

Very slack marking in the opening minutes of the second half provided Commons with a golden opportunity to equalise but he lost his head and blasted wide. Steven Hunt was having a typically erratic game but demonstrated how effective he can be when he released Armstrong with a well timed and weighted pass down the left which produced an excellent cross for Doyle to nod in his fiftieth goal for Reading and put the Royals two up. Doyle added his superb second nine minutes later, and put the result beyond doubt. Coppell made use of the opportunity to give Gunarsson and Matejovsky a run out for the last ten minutes. Matejovsky clearly relished the chance and pleased the crowd with some delightful touches and passes. Long had replaced Noel Hunt and looked very sharp. Had Steven Hunt timed his run a fraction later he would probably scored from his cross following a good turn of speed to take him beyond the Derby defence. Hunt then made a great run through the centre of the Derby defence only to be denied a goal by a equally brilliant tackle from Claude Davis. It will be tough game next week at Bramall Lane but nobody will fancy playing Reading at the moment.
John Wells


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Kevin Doyle proved the difference as Reading ran out winners over Derby County at the Madejski Stadium and Steve Coppell, the manager, was quick to hail his star man. Doyle signed a new contract until 2011 last week and celebrated by scoring his 50th goal for the club on a day when he hit the target twice, Noel Hunt netting the other. Coppell said: “All the talk in the summer didn’t do Kevin’s form any favours at the start of the season. But he’s made a commitment to us now and he won’t be diverted away by speculation. Where he’ll end up now will be down to how he plays – and he’s certainly doing well at the minute.” Paul Jewell, the Derby manager, said: “The best team won. They are a top side and I think they’ll get promotion. They are strong and quick and once they got the second goal they closed it off well. We have evidently still got a long way to go.”
The Times