Skip to main content

Match Report


Posted Sat 31 Dec 11 at 14:17 PM


Town ended 2011 with defeat to Reading, thanks to Alex Pearce's second-half strike.

Blues had dominated the game for spells but ultimately left the Madejski Stadium empty handed.

Paul Jewell made two changes to the Town squad with skipper Grant Leadbitter returning in place of the injured Keith Andrews, while Jay Emmanuel-Thomas started up front instead of Jason Scotland, after the striker picked up a hamstring injury in training.

It took a while for the first chance of the game to be fashioned, but it was created by the home side after nine minutes. Good work on the right by skipper Jobi McAnuff saw him beat Aaron Cresswell before crossing for Adam Le Fondre, but the striker couldn't direct his header towards goal.

The referee felt it had been deflected over however and from the resulting corner Arran Lee-Barrett in the Town goal did well to keep out a Kaspars Gorkss header from another McAnuff centre.

Town began to come into the game and almost broke the deadlock after 13 minutes. A Damien Delaney header wasn't dealt with by the Reading defence and even though the ball fell to Michael Chopra, the striker couldn't get the ball out of his feet and Gorkss could eventually clear the danger.

Emmanuel-Thomas, playing just off Chopra, was looking lively and he came close to opening the scoring after 16 minutes.After receiving the ball in midfield, the former Arsenal man ran at the Reading defence before firing towards goal only to see the ball cannon back off the crossbar with Royals 'keeper Adam Federici well beaten.

Town were now dominating proceedings and Chopra was inches wide just a minute later, with a long range effort that went just past the post after good battling work from Carlos Edwards.

Next to try his luck from range for Town was Cresswell, who was highly unfortunate not to open his account for the Club with a left-footed strike from 25 yards that went just over the angle of post and bar.

The hosts were looking dangerous on the counter and neat work in midfield from Jem Karacan saw him work some space before crossing for Le Fondre, who was unlucky not to make contact with the ball just in front of Lee-Barrett's goal.

More good play from Emmanuel-Thomas saw him flick the ball into the path of Lee Martin, who looked to have escaped Andy Griffin in the box, before the experienced full-back recovered to make a superb last ditch tackle.

Martin then went close again six minutes before the break, after connecting with a Daryl Murphy left-wing cross only to see his header deflect just wide of the target.

Town continued to create a host of chances, searching for an opener which almost came through Emmanuel-Thomas five minutes before half-time. Good hold up play from Chopra saw him lay the ball off to his strike partner, but Federici made a fine reflex save to deny Emmanuel-Thomas from eight yards.

There was still time for one more Town chance, with Delaney trying his luck with an ambitious 35 yard drive that flew over the bar before the referee blew for half-time.

The second-half started in a similar vein to the first, with the hosts having a lot of possession but Town creating the better chances.

Emmanuel-Thomas was causing the Royals defence a lot of problems and he set up Martin ten minutes after the restart, but the Blues winger was closed down inside the area before he had a chance to get his shot away.

But Emmanuel-Thomas was still at the heart of every move and good link up play between him and Leadbitter saw the former Arsenal man run at the Reading defence before slipping in Chopra, but the striker's shot sent just wide of the post.

Soon after that missed opportunity, the home side broke the deadlock. Lee Bowyer was adjudged to have handled the ball and from the resulting McAnuff free-kick, Pearce rose highest in the box to head past Lee-Barrett and put Reading in front with 64 minutes played.

Brian McDermott's side went close again after 72 minutes, with substitute Noel Hunt winning a loose ball before crossing for Simon Church, who must have thought he had scored, before Lee-Barrett managed to gather the ball on the line.

Reading had a chance to wrap up the points with seven minutes remaining after hitting Town on the counter, but after jinking his way into the box, Kebe found Cresswell in the way before he had time to shoot and the defender managed to get a block in.

Substitute Hal-Robson-Kanu then should have scored with a minute remaining, but the Welsh international somehow fired over from close range after Lee-Barrett had fumbled the ball.

Town continued to attack in search of the equaliser which wasn't to come and Paul Jewell's side left the Madejski Stadium empty handed as we move into the New Year.

Blues are back in action on Monday, with Nottingham Forest arriving at Portman Road for the first game of 2012.

Reading: Federici, Cummings, Pearce, Gorkss, Griffin, Kebe (Robson-Kanu 85), Leigertwood, Karacan (Tabb 89), McAnuff, Church, Le Fondre (Hunt 62). Subs not used: Andersen, Harte.

Town: Lee-Barrett, Edwards, Sonko, Delaney, Cresswell, Martin (Carson 72), Leadbitter (Bullard 86), Bowyer, Murphy, Emmanuel-Thomas, Chopra (Ellington 72). Subs not used: Wright, Wabara.

Booked: Sonko

Att: 18, 737 (1,526 Town fans)

    Latest Match Reports