Match Report: 2011/2012 Season

10 December 2011: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Pearce (66 mins), Church (80 mins, 86 mins).
West Ham United: -.
Half Time: 0-0.

Attendance: 24,026

Pos Team P Pts GD
9 Leicester 21 30 +5
10 READING 21 30 +4
11 C Palace 21 30 +1
Reading: A Federici, I Harte, K Gorkss, A Pearce, S Cummings, J McAnuff, M Leigertwood, J Kebe (H Robson-Kanu, 88), J Karacan, N Hunt (S Church, 65), A Le Fondre.
Subs not used: M Andersen, J Tabb, M Antonio.
West Ham United: R Green, G Demel (J O'Brien, 4), A Faye, J Faubert, J Tomkins, G McCartney, P Diop (C Cole, 57), M Noble, J Collison, K Nolan, F Piquionne (J Carew, 72).
Subs not used: F Sears, M Stech.
Reading: Hunt, Karacan.
West Ham United: O'Brien, Faye, McCartney. Sent Off: Joey O'Brien (65), Jack Collison (84).
Ref: Neil Swarbrick.
Simon Church celebrated his birthday in style coming off the bench to score two goals in four minutes near the end of a very entertaining and deserved Royals victory over second placed Hammers. Had the visitors won this game they would have ended the day at the top of the Championship, but that never looked likely as Reading's season continues to slowly gather momentum. Reading have now outplayed the top two teams at home and are closing in on a play-off spot. West Ham with a squad full of players with recent Premier league experience rarely threatened Reading's solid defence and with Leigertwood at his very best, their midfield struggled to retain possession in crucial areas. Any lack of pace at the back was compensated for by Karacan's pace, energy, and willingness to track back deep into his own half. In the end the Hammers completely lost their way and a lack of discipline resulted in the sending off O'Brien and Collison. The away end emptied long before the final whistle.

West Ham defender Demel had to replaced after four minutes by O'Brien after sustaining an injury as he cleared the ball. Reading might have taken the lead after six minutes when Le Fondre wriggled behind the Hammers defence and whipped in a good ball which Hunt almost reached. Reading enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half but there were few chances. West Ham came close through Diop but the ball was scrambled away and efforts from Piquionne and Collison were deflected wide. The best scoring opportunity fell to Karacan when Kebe popped up on the left wing and delivered a perfect cross, but his glancing header drifted wide. It would be harsh to criticise Karacan considering how well he had done to get into the box having made tackles all over the pitch throughout the half. Leigertwood had an outstanding half. He won tackles, passed the ball well and held off challenges with ease to keep possession and dictate the play.

Both teams came out looking to win the game after the interval and it was Hunt who had the first clear sight of goal, but after racing clear he was unable to find the finish to beat Green. Kebe was playing with greater purpose than in recent games and forced the Hammers into conceding a free kick just outside the box which Harte struck well but just wide of the post. West Ham brought on Cole to liven up a toothless attack but it made little difference. Hunt was in the thick of again on the hour when he upset O'Brien arriving slightly late (but not dangerously so) as the Hammers defender cleared the ball. Having pushed his head into Hunt's face they both received a yellow. Foolishly O'Brien scythed down McAnuff almost immediately afterwards and he received a second yellow leaving the visitors with ten men. Harte's free kick was partially cleared and McAnuff controlled the ball and made for the line. Showing great composure and awareness he laid the ball back to Pearce who's finish was equally composed as it ricocheted into the corner of the net off a defender. Church should have added a second but he dragged his shot wide from close range. Harte headed just over the bar with powerful header as Reading swarmed all over the Hammers defence. The inevitable goal eventually arrived eight minutes from time. Le Fondre's delicate cross was inch perfect leaving Green floundering, and Church with the simple task of nodding the ball unopposed over the line. Church will grab the headlines but the goal the product of Le Fondre's awareness, subtlety, and skill.

West Ham's misery was not yet complete as Kebe indulged in some unnecessary showboating, pausing to pull his socks up, followed by some elaborate step overs as Collison closed him down. It was all too much for Collison who simply flattened him after the ball had gone. Both players got what they deserved as Collison received a straight red. Kebe hopefully has learned his lesson but will no doubt suffer the consequences again at Upton Park later in the season. To rub salt into the wound, Church converted the resulting Harte free kick into Reading's third goal with a good header. It was an impressive performance all round from the Royals and a top six finish is beginning to look possible.
John Wells

Best hangover cure ever! Fantastic all round performance from a game that looked dead at half time! Ledge my man of the match, with the biggest thumbs up to Church for an incredible cameo performance! Happy birthday lad! Lastly Kebe was having his heels kicked at every opportunity so fair play to him for getting a bit of revenge! What he did was hilarious and obviously worked as Collison came at him like a bullet! For once I cannot wait until The Football League Show Royal Prince

Thought the team moved the ball well for majority of the game, west ham looked poor throughout. We were lucky on occasions but can't deny we didn't deserve anything less than 3 points. Both centre backs were solid and played really well and Alf had amazing vision for the 2nd Fair play to church for coming on and getting a brace would be good to see him use that now to kick on and get some more. Leeds should hopefully be a good game!

I thought we played well all game, INCLUDING the first half, but in that first-half we just missed out on the killer finish. L-wood was back to his best and when he plays well, RFC plays well. I thought West Ham, as individuals showed plenty of quality, but we matched them. Have to admit, though, when we had managed yet another goalless first half I had visions of us getting beaten by a "Premiership" quality goal.
In that first half I thought all ten outfield players had excellent games and Hunt-Alfie looked a very good pairing with Hunt looking leagues better than Church has looked. Two of Alfie's through balls were superb. Class player. No idea how someone saw Harte being regularly skinned. Thought he was solid today. Both CBs excellent. Jimmy is getting better each game, almost back to his most exciting best. The socks-thing was total magic!!
We got better as the game opened up a bit. I was disappointed when Church came on but joked he'd probably get a tap-in. First five or so minutes he looked poor, but then he managed (yet again) to be in the right place for his first then got an excellent second. Shame he fell over when put clean through! Brilliant for the lad, and whatever else his stats are looking MILES better now.

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Simon Church scored two and Alex Pearce one as Reading eased to victory over a West Ham side reduced to nine men. Joey O'Brien was sent off for two yellow cards in the 65th minute and Pearce made the visitors pay a minute later by scoring from eight yards out. Substitute Church tapped home Adam Le Fondre's chip for his first before Jack Collison was dismissed for a wild challenge on Jimmy Kebe. Striker Church nodded home Ian Harte's set-piece to complete the scoring. West Ham would have gone joint top with Championship leaders Southampton if they had won the match, but were on the backfoot from the start. Noel Hunt almost gave the Royals the lead early on while Kebe and Jem Karacan also went close to scoring in the first half. Collison blazed over the bar for the Hammers while Papa Bouba Diop thought he had had poked the ball home but Hunt cleared off the line. The game's scrappy nature continued into the second half before the match exploded into life after O'Brien tripped the dangerous Jobi McAnuff to earn his second yellow card. From the free-kick given for O'Brien's offence, Harte's delivery was not cleared properly, McAnuff slipped the ball into Pearce's path and the centre-back side-footed home. Reading dominated from there onwards and went two up when Church tapped home. West Ham lost all their shape and discipline and were reduced to nine men when Collison needlessly fouled Kebe. From the resulting free-kick Church headed home Harte's cross to intensify the misery for the Hammers.
BBC Sport