MATCH REPORT: 2008/2009 Season

Reading: Stephen Hunt (84 mins, pen), Long (86 mins).
Norwich: -
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 19,382

Pos Team P Pts GD
2 Birmingham 23 47 +12
3 READING 23 46 +27
4 Burnley 23 40 +6
Reading: Federici, Rosenior, Ingimarsson, Duberry, Armstrong, Matejovsky, Cisse (Henry 69), Harper (Gunnarsson 74), Stephen Hunt, Doyle, Noel Hunt (Long 80). Subs Not Used: Kelly, McCarthy.
Norwich: Marshall, Otsemobor, Doherty, Kennedy (Omozusi 89), Bertrand, Croft, Clingan, Pattison (Cort 54), Bell, Fotheringham, Russell. Subs Not Used: Hoolahan, Lupoli, Nelson.
Reading: Harper.
Norwich: Bertrand.
Ref: Trevor Kettle (Rutland).
Just when it looked as if the match was going to peter out into disappointing draw, referee Kettle gave a highly controversial penalty six minutes from time. Stephen Hunt picked the ball up, and after a brief discussion with Shane Long, scored from the spot. It was not the most convincing conversion, being a nice height for the 'keeper, who did manage to get a hand to it. City might well argue with some justification they were worth a point, but Reading without doubt put the visitors under more pressure in the second half and in the end it paid off.

City could easily have been two goals up in the opening fifteen minutes. An burst of one touch passing ended with a dangerous ball into the box which found Russell unmarked, but his finish was weak and Federici gathered, Soon after Pattison missed a golden opportunity when Armstrong was caught in possession and Croft crossed. The City forward failed to make sufficient contact with his head in front of goal and he ball glanced wide. Doyle had an appeal for a penalty but Reading's best effort came from Harper who pounced in a loose ball and prodded it narrowly wide. Reading had good brief spell of pressure on the half hour, but it was fairly dull and scrappy first half.

Reading showed greater urgency from the start of the second half and City conceded several free kicks in quick succession which were on the whole wasted. Ingimarsson came very close sidefooting wide from a low corner which surprised everyone. Matejovsky had been allocated the right side of midfield which clearly did not suit him and he frequently drifted inside which at times deprived reading of the width needed to get round City's resolute defence. That all changed in the last twenty minutes when Cisse came off possiblbly with an injury, to be replaced by Henry, Noel Hunt and Harper soon followed and were replaced by Long and Gunnarsson. With Henry out wide and Long up front Reading looked a lot livelier. Federici had a sound game but in truth had little to do. His best moment was a great catch at full stretch from a corner followed by an accurate kick which found Henry making a well timed crossfield run deep into City territory resulting in a corner to Reading.

As the game entered the final phase Fotheringham's raised hand clearly made contact with the ball. City manager Glen Roeder claimed he was pushed, and that may have been the case, but I was sitting right behind the referee's assistant and from that angle it was not easy to detect a shove from behind. The referee gave the penalty and there can't have been many Reading fans feeling confident as Stephen Hunt picked up the ball following his miss from the spot on Tuesday night. A long and heated debate and a booking delayed the kick adding to the tension but Hunt squeezed the ball inside the post off Marshall's hand. The goal demoralised City and another incisive run from Henry took him across the field to pick up a loose ball. His accurate cross was met brilliantly at the near post by Shane Long's head and it was all over. Next week's away fixture at Birmingham was set up perfectly a couple of hours later as the Blues went down one nil at Preston leaving the Royals only one point adrift and looking hungry for another away win.
John Wells


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Despite the best efforts of Reading’s Hunt and Kevin Doyle, the game became entrenched in mud and mediocrity. Liam Rosenior fought hard on the right flank to penetrate the Norwich defence with a decisive cross but, apart from a single delivery to Doyle, which the Irishman failed to finish under pressure from Gary Doherty, the visitors were able to deal with the threat... Ivar Ingimarsson had an opportunity to drag the game out of the ditch when Hunt’s corner kick landed the ball at his feet early in the second half but he managed to shoot wide.Michael Duberry ought to have hit the target at least with a free header at the near post from another probing free kick by Hunt. There was plenty of honest graft but no sparkle... Even the winning of the game was ugly... The referee pointed to the spot. Hunt squeezed his shot inside the post despite David Marshall getting one hand on the ball and Reading’s relief was palpable. Norwich were finished by this blow, a point made emphatically when Long headed the ball past Marshall two minutes later.
The Times