MATCH REPORT: 2005/2006 Season

Reading: Harper (81 mins).
Crystal Palace: Johnson (79 mins, pen)
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 19,888

Pos Team P Pts GD
1 READING 30 73 +46
2 Sheff Utd 29 63 +27
3 Leeds 28 51 +14
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey, Little, Sidwell, Harper, Convey, Kitson (Lita 64), Doyle. Subs Not Used: Gunnarsson, Hunt, Oster, Stack.
Crystal Palace: Kiraly, Ward, Hudson, Fitz Hall, Boyce, Soares, Hughes, Watson, McAnuff, Johnson, Macken. Subs Not Used: Freedman, Morrison, Leigertwood, Andrews, Speroni.
Reading: -
Crystal Palace: Hughes, Johnson.
Referee: T Kettle (Berkshire).

Reading came from a goal behind, as two late goals saw the Royals and Crystal Palace battle out a 1-1 draw at Selhurst Park. The result allowed both sides to stretch their unbeaten runs and saw Reading stretch their run to 29 league games without defeat as they maintained an uncatchable 25 point margin over fifth placed Palace. Following the FA Cup heroics from the Royals during the week, it was back to business as normal as Coppell switched back to his "league" starting eleven. The switch to the first choice eleven saw hat-trick hero back on the bench as Kitson paired up with Doyle up front.

It was the home side that got off to a better start and they could have moved ahead in the opening few minutes after a Shorey back pass went wrong, allowing Palace striker Johnson a clear run at goal. Thankfully Marcus Hahnemann showed the form he has been enjoying all season long, and was to repeat throughout the night, as he came off his line to block the shot and make the first of many vital saves. Johnson's goal hanging saw him get another shot in on target in the opening exchanges, probably from an off-side position, but again it failed to trouble Hahnemann in the Reading goal. Down the other end, Kitson nearly put Reading ahead as he somehow managed to get inbetween the defender and goalkeeper to lob a shot just over the crossbar. Kitson failed to find many clear cut chances as Reading started to get more into the game, and on a couple of occassions he nearly made contact but failed to connect. Convey supplied a couple of excellent low crosses from the left and Little came over that side too to cross as Reading began to look the more dangerous side as the half went on. Palace finished the second half back on top as Hahnemann made a further save, but the half finished with neither side ahead.

After a impressive first half of football from both sides, the second half started a bit more scrappy until the game came back to life once more. Palace had penalty appeals waved away after Ingimarsson appeared to put his hands in front of the ball, but a penalty was awarded just a couple of minutes later when Johnson won himself a penalty. A more professionally earned penalty you'll seldom see. As Johnson saw Hahnemann coming out he kicked the ball well out of play and went over Hahnemann - leaving the referee with little choice. The resulting penalty kick was just as clinical as the ball was driven into the side of the net and out of man-of-the-match's Hahnemann's reach, making it 0-1.

However, as we've seen so many times this season, the goal saw Reading step up a gear and carve out yet another fantastically constructed goal. A determined Murty battled himself through down the right to cross. Lita, who had come off the bench just fifteen minutes early, did very well to flick the ball through to Harper in the centre of the box. Harper buried the ball into the back of the net as Reading put the game back on equal terms. At 1-1 we fancied Reading to complete the job and end up as winners but, unlike other opposition this season, Palace remained strong and both sides had to settle for a fair share of the points.


Like a number of Reading fans this season I'm black and blue from pinching myself! I've never seen a Reading team in 35 years that doesn't seem to understand the business of lying down and losing. Friday's game was no exception. Down but never out, the team struck back to send a message across the division. Surely this is our year. Having said that if Kitson's injury is worse than thought, my jitters may return. Please lads, keep it up!
Patrick Collins

What a corker! That was the most competitive and exciting game Reading have played in ages. It was an excellent performance all round (Kitson was not at his best though). The fighting spirit in the squad could finally make the dream for top flight football a certainty.
Darius Wainwright

Watched the match on Sky. It was a very hard match for the Royals, as Palace were very much up for it, unfortunate to concede the penalty - AJ is very good at getting them and had no intention of doing anything with the ball just getting the pen. A brilliant Harper goal, he just seems to get better and better, don't know about Sven looking at AJ, Sidwell, Harper and Shorey on last night's showing should not too far away from his thoughts. If all goes well they will be playing in the Premiership next year. But overall another difficult away hurdle crossed. Well done lads and have a good break.
Graham Howes, Morayshire, Scotland

Got an opinion? E-Mail us at
Appropriate submissions will appear on match report pages