Sunday, January 15, 2006

USA Reading 2-0 Coventry City

Forget Vietnam or the Gulf and the fact that the average American represents a "considerably richer than yow" symbol of hatred across much of the world, we at Reading think the Yanks are alright. A string of fine saves by Seattle's finest shot-stopper Marcus Hahnemann either side of a Kitson brace maintained Reading's lead which increased the points gap between the unbeaten in 28 league games leaders and the rest of the pack. And it was Philadelphia flyer Bobby Convey who set the ball rolling for Reading's top scorer with a fine run to split the previously unbreachable Coventry defence.

It was a glimpse into the past, present and future at the Madejski Stadium yesterday. Former captain Adie Williams got a generous ovation from another sell-out home crowd despite wearing the colours of Coventry these days and we sat and watched another marvellous Reading performance - first half in particular - inspired by the young guns such as Convey and Doyle. Reading's first half performance was thrilling and a tad unfortunate not to reap more reward. Coventry were happy to sit back and the experienced heads of Adie and Richard Shaw at the back just about managed, by hook or by crook, to hold out against a Reading side playing their best stiflingly positive brand of fast attacking football with the flanks as the pulse-beat of the side. Convey was on good form on the left and linked up well with Shorey whilst Little was the usual touch of class on the other side, ably assisted by Murty. Reading scattered the ball all over the park in the opening 45, with Harper at his prodigious best in the middle of the park spraying the passes about with aplomb.

Through a series of cynical fouls and what could be politely termed as gamesmanship from the visitors which was to see both Williams and Shaw booked, Reading failed to make that early breakthrough and were denied only by their own hurried finishing as Doyle blazed wide from an angle early on and Kitson rushed a chance to denied tamely by Fulop. Shorey's freekick was wasteful and Kitson flicked a header over as the Coventry keeper punched away s succession of dangerous crosses. At the other end, Hahnemann provided a taste of what was to come with a fine low save to deny Stern John. The breakthrough did come less than a minute after the break; Convey made light work of the City midfield and defence as he sprinted through to feed KITSON in space. The flame-haired favourite worked himself an opening and finished beautifully.

Floyd on Football surely wouldn't have been alone in thinking that this was cue for the floodgates to open, but Coventry belied their lowly position by taking the game to Reading at last and dominated for long, nerve-wracking periods. Hahnemann was in magnificent form, denying Hutchison with a fine save from a wickedly struck free-kick and another instinctive piece of glovemanship palmed away Scowcroft's header which was looping under the cross bar. When Marcus Hall did find a way past Hahnemann he was denied by the crossbar and James Scowcroft only had himself to blame for prodding wide when a game seemed inevitable. Superman Sonko took the ball off John with skillful timing in the area and Reading had escaped several times over, clinching the points in a style which was almost casual as KITSON side-footed home after substitute Hunt's determination worked an opening with ten minutes left for play. In any outstanding side every squad member must play their part, as Hunt showed with his fine work late on. You also need a good goalkeeper and Hahnemann fits that bill.

Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Shorey, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Little, Gunnarsson, Harper, Convey (Hunt, 71), Doyle (Lita, 87), Kitson. Subs not used: Stack, Makin, Oster.

Floyd's Favourite: Hahnemann. Fine saves kept us in front before Kitson sealed it.


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