MATCH REPORT: 2008/2009 Season

10 August 2008: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: -
Nottm Forest: -
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 21,571

Pos Team P Pts GD
13 Nottm Forest 1 1 0
14 READING 1 1 0
15 Watford 1 1 0
Reading: Hahnemann, Rosenior, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Stephen Hunt, Kebe, Harper, Matejovsky (Cisse 42), Convey, Lita, Doyle. Subs Not Used: Andersen, Long, Pearce, Kelly.
Nottm Forest: Smith, Chambers, Morgan, Wilson, Bennett, Guy Moussi, Perch, Davies (McCleary 90), McGugan (Sinclair 83), Cohen, Earnshaw. Subs Not Used: Roberts, Breckin, Thornhill.
Reading: Kebe
Nottm Forest: McGugan.
Ref: Stuart Attwell (Warwickshire).
This certainly wasn't a classic but a reasonably useful point to kick off the new season back in English football's second tier. The 0-0 result wasn't far off what I'd expected but it wasn't all bad after the Royals eventually got their act together in the second half and could have snatched the win. With Shorey completing his transfer to Aston Villa and Reading not able or not willing to source a left back in time for the new season, Stephen Hunt filled in. There was no place for his brother, Reading's only signing of the close season. With the absense of Shorey, Kitson and Little it felt like the same formula as before but with a weakened side. Having just got relegated the prospect of the same but worse didn't fill me with much anticipation. The game had a certain lack of excitement about it which became even more obvious the longer the first half went on.

It was the home side that had started the best, almost carving open a scoring opportunity within the opening twenty seconds. Reading were slow to respond and it was Forest that looked the more comfortable side. The Royals were struggling to string any kind of passing move togther while Forest were enjoying by far the greater possession. Thankfully Forest's passing moves across the field were breaking down at the end - either losing out on the wings as they pushed forward and lost the ball or when they finished the move with a long range effort that flew over Hahnemann's crossbar. They appeared to have the advantage but in truth Reading were safe and happy to sit back. Going forward, Kebe looked exciting for a while as Reading put everything down the right. However, nearly every time his runs went on too long and resulted in him losing out. He needs to learn to pass the ball. One run saw him get into the box only to fall over with penalty cries from the away end. No such luck. Things got worse when Matejovsky challenged for the ball and went down in a heap to be stretchered off. As it turned out his replacement, Cisse, turned out to be far more effective. It was a bad afternoon all round for Matejovsky. The injury time we could have done without, with the thoughts of half time pies much more interesting than the football on display.

The second half Reading gradually improved. The ball started being sent down the left and Stephen Hunt got involved. We looked much stronger down that side despite Convey having little impact. Hunt stood out for me, not only doing his left back job perfectly well and rarely getting in trouble but being our most creative player going forward. The first half had been hit and hope junk from the Royals but at last there were a few on the floor moves. Forest had the better of the first half, Reading the better of the second but there was little between the teams. Reading could have nicked it with ten minutes left when Hunt was the provider, the only player likely to be, with his cross from the left finding Doyle. Doyle's header was good, and on target, but we saw the Forest keeper push the ball onto the bar and the chance of the three points was gone.


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Reading fell from the Barclays Premier League last season after a two-year stay among the elite, and Nottingham Forest rose from Coca-Cola League One after a three-year stint among the down-and-outs. It was a blend destined to confuse at the City Ground yesterday and a dull, goalless draw only confirmed the worst fears. Who will cope better in the Championship? Will Reading bounce back at the first attempt in a division that they won at a canter in 2006? Will Forest adjust to life in the higher grade and go on to recapture their former glories after many desperate campaigns out of the limelight? Too many questions and, on the evidence of a dour 90 minutes in the sunshine, no hint of an answer. It is too early, anyway. At least Forest displayed a hunger on their return to the second tier, their players eager and enthusiastic to put in a decent shift in the heat. The Reading players might have attempted to show that they retain their hunger, eight of their starters having played a role in winning the Championship two years ago, yet not all of them were convincing. Dave Kitson and Nicky Shorey wanted to leave after relegation and did. Hands up who would like to follow?
The Times