MATCH REPORT: 2008/2009 Season

Reading: Collins (2 mins, own goal).
Wolves: -.
Half Time: 1-0
Attendance: 23,009

Pos Team P Pts GD
1 Wolves 29 59 +21
2 READING 29 57 +32
3 Birmingham 29 55 +10
Reading: Federici, Kelly, Duberry (Gunnarsson 30), Pearce, Armstrong, Kebe, Harper, Cisse, Stephen Hunt, Noel Hunt (Long 80), Doyle (Lita 82). Subs Not Used: Andersen, Matejovsky.
Wolves: Hennessey, Foley, Collins, Stearman, Ward, Kightly, Quashie (Edwards 86), Henry, Jarvis (Vokes 84), Keogh (Iwelumo 63), Ebanks-Blake. Subs Not Used: Higgs, Hill.
Reading: Gunnarsson.
Wolves: Ward. Sent Off: Collins (90 mins).
Ref: Russell Booth (Nottinghamshire).
Reading secured a crucial victory against league leaders Wolves with peculiar own goal in the opening minutes of a tense and fiercely competitive contest. Doyle's persistence forced an error which lead to an opportunity for Armstrong to cross in the second minute. Collins looked perfectly placed to head clear but sadly for him the ball struck his head and looped over a statuesque Hennessey and dropped into the net. It was a perfect start for the Royals.

What unfolded was not a pretty sight but hugely entertaining as neither side were given time to settle on the ball and defenders consistently played the ball long and safe. At the mere hint of danger the ball was hoofed into touch. Play in midfield was scrappy and the ball bobbled about in the air. Challenges flew in thick and fast leading on one occasion to a nasty clash of heads between two Wolves players. Luckily no serious injury was inflicted. Duberry was not so fortunate. On the half hour he clattered into the back of a Wolves forward with a typically rash challenge and had to be replaced by Gunnarsson. Cisse dropped into the vacant centre back position and performed magnificently. The back four was now robbed of the three first choice central defenders. Coppell bravely selected the inexperienced Kelly to replace the suspended Rosenior, and although he looked out of his depth initially he grew in confidence as the game progressed. Pearce was excellent winning almost everything in the air and doing the simple things well. It was just the sort of performance which was required.

Wolves, in true Mick Mccarthy style, huffed and puffed but lacked the finesse to penetrate the Reading defence. Reading created the best chances of the first half. A deft touch by Noel Hunt set Harper up for strike on goal but the shot lacked power and was directed straight at Hennessey who saved comfortably. The Wolves 'keeper had to work considerably harder to keep out Noel Hunt's superbly struck free kick which was curling into the top corner of the net until he palmed it over.

The second half followed a similar pattern. The refereeing which was weak throughout, became increasingly controversial. Stearman remarkably avoided a caution for a blatant foul. As time ran out Wolves became increasingly desperate but Reading looked more likely to score. Kebe produced a couple of good crosses. Stephen Hunt volleyed one wide and another was cleared at the near post with desperate lunge. Noel Hunt and Doyle were replaced by Lita and Long as they began to look weary after getting through an amazing amount of work up front and tracking back to help out the defence. Near the end Reading pinned Wolves in the corner and they seemed to lack the guile to play their way out their own half. Collins finally lost the plot and was sent off for verbally abusing the referees assistant who had clearly made the correct decision in awarding a corner when he allowed the ball to run out of play. Lita added to the drama when he dislocated his shoulder. John Fearn was quickly onto the scene and popped it back into its socket. Lita to his credit immediately returned to the fray."We are top of the league" taunted the Wolves fans, which is true, but now their lead has been cut to two points and on current form they don't look as if they will be there much longer.

A classic "dirty" 1-0 but who cares, three precious points it is against our old rivals Wolves who gave us a wonderful late Christmas present with a gift of an own goal that defied all odds by floating over their fluorescent giant in goal....get in there!! We didn't play well, again, but that didn't matter last night, we won. With the late injury to Inga I thought Pearce did exceptionally well and Kelly can look back on his debut with big pride, the lad did well under great pressure. Everybody worked their socks off and Cisse did really well slotting in at centre back but it did feel like the Alamo for lots of the game It really was a scrappy game and it seemed Wolves would get the equaliser as they piled on the pressure but at the end of the game they'd had not one shot on target so we must be doing something right, as we are so hard to score against. It really is game on now in the league and god help which ever poor sods finish third out of the top three as we all know what fate awaits them in the dreaded play offs. We still can play so much better than recent games and with no time to catch your breath before another very tough away game at QPR on Saturday, where a point would be a great result. I'd play Lita for what it's worth, as he does seem to give us more pace up front and gets in defenders faces and I think now is the time for Matejovski to return as our playmaker in midfield. We have to start passing the ball again rather than long ball up front. Still, let's enjoy last night for a few days, six points from the Golden Shower, don't get much better than that!! UURRZZZ
Nick Newbury

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Reading manager Steve Coppell: "I'm not even thinking about the championship. You'll get my bland answer that it's one game at a time. "The result is all important. The goal was not exactly something we've been working on but you take what you can. "There wasn't much space for anyone to play football. We are two similar sides in the way we play and the shape we keep so it was always going to be difficult to break the deadlock. "There is a third of the season to go and it is all to play for. I see it as psychologically important but not significant as to who goes up. It is three points and at this stage it doesn't matter who it comes against."
BBC Sport