Match Report: 2011/2012 Season

22 October 2011: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Leigertwood (71 mins).
Southampton: De Ridder (80 mins).
Half Time: 0-0.

Attendance: 21,889

Pos Team P Pts GD
13 Leicester 13 19 +1
14 READING 13 17 +1
15 Portsmouth 13 15 0
Reading: A Federici, K Gorkss, A Pearce, J Mills, S Cummings, J McAnuff (I Harte, 88), M Leigertwood, J Karacan, H Robson-Kanu (M Manset, 81), A Le Fondre, S Church (J Kebe, 81).
Subs not used: A McCarthy, N Hunt.
Southampton: K Davis, F Richardson, J Hooiveld, D Fox, J Fonte (A Martin, 46), D Hammond, R Chaplow, G Do Prado (M Schneiderlin, 86), J Cork, R Lambert, D Connolly (S De Ridder, 59).
Subs not used: D Harding, B Bialkowski.
Reading: McAnuff, Robson-Kanu
Southampton: Fonte, Hammond, De Ridder. Sent Off: Hammond (77 mins).
Ref: J Moss.
Reading had to settle for a point against the league leaders, but at the final whistle everybody, even Southampton manager Nigel Adkins, agreed Reading were the better team. I think most Reading fans would have been happy with point before this game but left feeling disappointed that a lapse in concentration ten minutes from the end had denied their team all three points. As expected a large contingent of Saints fans generated a tremendous atmosphere from the start but it was Reading who dominated the play. McAnuff returned to the team to replace Kebe but apart from that Brian McDermott stuck with the team which had played so well earlier in the week against Derby.

Reading's dominance of the game was largely due to powerful performances from Leigertwood and Karacan in the centre of midfield. Leigertwood once again stamped his authority on the game with some delightful footwork to emerge from a cluster of Saints players, and later, a rasping drive form thirty yards which Davis did well to flick over the bar. Saints were willing to attack but were denied space wherever they went. Reading's counter attacks were swift and incisive. Church forced a save from Davis and Le Fondre was set up with good chance but he failed to make a clean contact with the ball and this time Davis was able to gather comfortably. McAnuff was put through by Le Fondre's excellent pass but he was forced outside by three covering defenders and although his shot beat Davis, Southampton cleared the ball as Le Fondre was closing in for a tap in.

Reading forced a string of corners at the beginning of the second half but it was Saints who created the first real chance of the half. Martin's close range header was brilliantly saved by Federici. Gorkss made an outstanding tackle to deny Fox a goalscoring opportunity as Southampton tried to establish a grip on the game but Reading were simply too strong for them in every department. With twenty minutes to go Leigertwood was crudely brought down on the edge of the box by Southampton skipper Hammond. McAnuff stepped up and curled the free kick around the wall and against the post. Leigertwood reacted smartly, seized the rebound, and smashed the ball across goal into the far corner of the net to give the Royals the lead they deserved. Southampton reacted positively but with perhaps too much aggression which resulted in Hammond receiving a second yellow card for reckless challenge on McAnuff. All Reading need to do was keep possession but fear crept into their game allowing Southampton to press forward in spite of going down to ten men. With ten minutes to go, Robson-Kanu switched off at a throw-in and allowed substitute De Ridder to run behind him and into the box unopposed. The Saints forward still had a lot to do but Reading failed to get close enough to him and he was given sufficient time and space to beat Federici with a powerful shot high into the roof of the net.

Reading, with Harte, Kebe and Manset on as substitutes pressed for the winner, but apart from a hopeful penalty appeal as Davis came out to dive at Manset's feet and a wild shot from Mills when a pass out wide to Harte might have produced a cross in to the danger area, Reading were unable to find the finish they needed. It was disappointing end to a fine performance by the Royals. Work will need to done on corners (Reading had fourteen) which were poor overall, and throw-ins, where Reading seemed unable to retain possession. Five points from three difficult games in a week is a good return. There is room for improvement, but more importantly, there is the potential for improvement.
John Wells

Very frustrating. A very committed, hard-working performance and a 1-0 win looked on the cards. Saints equaliser came as a bit of a shock and in the end its two dropped points. Gorkss played well and Karacan was his usual committed self. They were the pick of the players for me. We have to start turning pressure into goals. We had something like 17 corners but apart from the Pearce header we didn't look at all dangerous from that set-piece. Le-Fondre should have done better with the first half chances he had. Overall though this is a very young side and we more than matched a team who I think will be right up there at the end of the season... So plenty of positives but just 2 points from our last two home games seems small reward for a lot of hard work.

I missed the first 20mins driving back from my game today but it was an enjoyable game for the other 70. Reading looked fit, hungry and energetic all night and caused Southampton problems but unfortunately Reading just lack a little bit of quality for all their effort. Le Fondre is a super little player and him and Church work well and I thought they both had very decent games up front. Leigertwood rightly has been praised his passing was good, he won the ball back countless times and deserved his goal. Only Davis stopped him scoring the goal of the season. Reading are a bit naieve defensively at times and for some of the good blocks made by Gorkks and co, the goal was utterly avoidable, two players go for and get nowhere near the same ball, Mills is stood around doing nothing and his man for the 3rd goal in a week cuts in and slams home. Funnily it was the sending off whcih woke Southampton up because until then there was only one winner. Mills is quicker and more athletic than Harte I think they are defensively both not great but Mills going forward is just not in Harte's league. What was it 15 corners? Or something similar plus some free kicks and open play crossing opportunities, lost count how many Davis dealt with and the ones he didn't were over hit passed everyone and out of play. woeful. It's the only thing you can criticise Reading for tonight really. They had numerous opportunities to put good crosses in for their lively forwards but none of those deliveries were good enough. Mills was responsible for 90% of them, McAnuff took a few corners and his were equally terrible. It's hard to criticise Reading for the Derby and Southampton games but ultimately for me they have dominated both games pretty much from start to finish and have collected 2 points.
Alan Partridge

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Championship leaders Southampton hit back to deny Reading and secure a valuable away point in a gripping game despite having Dean Hammond sent off. The Royals seemed set for a deserved win when Mikele Leigertwood showed great composure to fire home after Jobi McAnuff's free-kick hit the post. Saints then had skipper Hammond sent off for a second yellow card after a late lunge on McAnuff. But they levelled when Steve De Ridder cut inside and crashed the ball in. De Ridder's stunning finish, from Guly Do Prado's delightful first-time lay-off, restores Saints' three-point lead at the top of the table. Reading will feel they like they wasted a glorious opportunity, not only because they conceded a late equaliser against 10 men, but also because they dominated the first half. Simon Church twice went close with decent chances, Adam Le Fondre had an effort blocked by goalkeeper Kelvin Davis and Leigertwood also had a fierce long-range strike tipped over by the excellent Davis. Saints responded after the interval and Royals keeper Adam Federici pulled off an incredible one-handed save to keep out Aaron Martin's header. Richard Chaplow also tested the keeper with a low strike as the game opened up. Reading went ahead through Leigertwood when the midfielder coolly slotted home from the left-hand side of the box after McAnuff's measured 20-yard strike rebounded to him off the post. The victory seemed assured against a below-par Saints side when Hammond saw red, only for De Ridder's clinical finish to ensure a share of the points.
BBC Sport