MATCH REPORT: 2007/2008 Season

26 December 2007: FA PREMIER LEAGUE
Reading: Kitson (60 mins).
West Ham: Solano (42 mins).
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 34,277

Pos Team P Pts GD
11 Newcastle 18 26 -3
12 READING 19 22 -11
13 Tottenham 19 21 +3
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Sonko, Gunnarsson, Shorey, Hunt, Harper, Ingimarsson, Convey (Cisse 66), Doyle (Bikey 90), Kitson (Long 85). Subs Not Used: Federici, Lita.
West Ham: Green, Neill, Spector, Upson, McCartney, Solano (Noble 77), Parker, Mullins, Ljungberg, Cole (Camara 72), Ashton. Subs Not Used: Wright, Ferdinand, Pantsil.
Reading: Hunt, Shorey. Sent Off: Gunnarsson (29 mins).
West Ham: Green, Cole.
Ref: Peter Walton (Northamptonshire).
The Royals extended their best spell of the season making it five games without defeat with a hard fought away point at West Ham United. The result could have gone either way, and would probably have ended with a Reading victory without the sending off of Gunnarsson after just 29 minutes. At that point, Reading were well on top, playing better football and looking far more dangerous. The sending off turned the game, saw West Ham move ahead before Reading's ten men dug deep to have the best spell of the second half that included an well worked equaliser. Reading deserved the point, or perhaps more, until a late burst from the home side saw them nearly steal the victory in injury time. All things considered a point was probably a fair result.

Gunnarsson's sending off with only a third of the game gone might have spelled disaster for Reading. It was a harsh decision that threatened to ruin what was developing into a good game. Gunnarsson flew in with two feet off the ground in the middle of the pitch - not the brightest thing to do. However, in his defence he was clearly going for the ball and even may have made contact with that before his slight contact with the man. It was a bad challenge but you'll see far worse go past without even a booking. The instant red card put an end to Reading's excellent start to the game. Despite our away record we were looking more like the home side, with West Ham defending against a determined Reading attack. Doyle and Kitson were working very well together with Doyle making some great runs through the defence. Kitson set up Doyle after a great run into the left side of the box only to see Doyle's header fly straight at the keeper from close range. The two front men were at it again to set up Convey who couldn't find enough space to beat the advancing goalkeeper. With Hunt in his usual excellent form we were causing plenty of problems for West Ham until we were reduced to ten men.

West Ham at last found some kind of pattern with Reading temporarily deflated, and the goal came from a scramble on the edge of the box just before half time. The ball came loose from a crowd of players and Solano found space to drive the ball home. After the break West Ham failed to make the most of their extra man. Eventually Reading themselves back on top again despite the lack of numbers. Reading were starting to threaten and earned a corner on the left. The corner from Harper was poor but came out to Shorey who made a clever run into the box before picking out Kitson with a short ball forward. Kitson had his back to goal but turned and volleyed home in style to make it 1-1. For a spell it looked like Reading might go on to win it as they enjoyed the better possession and continued to push men forward. However, with time running out West Ham finally came to life and might have stole it. Reading were forced to defend at West Ham swept forward. Hahnemann saved from close range and was in excellent form to claim everything sent into the box. In injury time Reading were saved by the post as they hung on to claim the point.

Ten heroes, simply magnificent, arise Reading FC.
Nick Newbury

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Reading’s third away point came as a result of regrouping after the red card... West Ham began in disjointed fashion, unable to do even the simplest things right, and needed Robert Green to be alert when Dave Kitson and Kevin Doyle helped the ball on for Bobby Convey to volley. The game changed, though, after Gunnarsson’s rash challenge on Hayden Mullins in the 29th minute. “I, like anybody else, want to see the two-footed jump tackle removed from the game,” Coppell said. “I know Bryn didn’t mean anything by it, but by the letter of the law he had to go.”
Nick Szczepanik, The Times

Dave Kitson's superb second-half strike earned 10-man Reading only their third away point of the season at Upton Park. The visitors looked more threatening until Brynjar Gunnarsson saw red for a two-footed lunge at Hayden Mullins... It was no more than they [Reading] deserved for playing a full part in an entertaining clash which belied the teams' poor records... And Ashton hit the post with a header right at the end of a hard-fought encounter which, just about, ended with the right result.