1-0 (Long 62), 2-0 (Kitson 87)
- Match reports
- Sat 08 Mar 2008, 12:00AM
- Posted by Leon Collins
Summary: Second half goals from Long and Kitson saw the Blues leave Berkshire empty-handed on a disappointing afternoon. Corluka missed a great chance in the first half, and City’s injury worries increased when Richard Dunne was carried off after half an hour with a nasty cut to his right leg. Didi Hamann’s booking means he will miss the games against Spurs and Bolton.
Sven-Goran Eriksson rang the changes after the draw with Wigan, some enforced and others not. Nedum Onuoha’s hamstring strain saw Michael Ball move into central defence, with Javi Garrido back at left back for the first time since the Carling Cup tie against Spurs. Didi Hamann returned in place of Stephen Ireland.
The announcement of Portsmouth’s win at Old Trafford brought cheers from all around the stadium, but in particular the away corner!
The ever-combative Steve Hunt was at the heart of things from the off, testing Hart with a cross-cum-shot after four minutes and then finding Oster from a free kick. Michael Johnson’s well-timed challenge put the former Sunderland striker off just as he looked threatening inside City’s area.
Benjani drifted into the box after 13 minutes but the chance to cross towards Vassell was gone when Hahnemann bore down on him. The American keeper punched away Elano’s free kick, which followed a foul on Johnson, two minutes later.
Didi Hamann had been staring down the barrel of a possible two-match ban for some time, and unfortunately he reached 10 bookings for the season on 20 minutes when he pulled down Steve Hunt. Joe Hart was called upon to reach the Irishman’s header after the resulting free kick.
Vedran Corluka missed a golden opportunity to take the lead on 25 minutes when Elano swung over a tempting free kick from the left. The Reading defence missed the Croatian’s run into the middle of the six-yard box, but with the goal at his mercy the ball seemed to simply hit him and it went harmlessly over the bar.
City were forced to make a substitution on the half hour, and with defensive resources already stretched the sight of Richard Dunne being carried off was the last thing Blues fans wanted to see. A split-second after clearing away from the oncoming Hunt, the skipper was caught by the Reading player on his right leg. Physio Ally Beattie immediately signalled that he would be coming off, so Sun Jihai went to right back with Corluka going to central defence.
Reading went close on 38 minutes, Long’s back-header from an Oster free kick just scraping wide of Hart’s left post. The City keeper kept the score at 0-0 with five minutes to go to the break, pulling off a brilliant save low to his right to push away Matejovsky’s deflected shot.
Michael Johnson went down in the area just before the end of 45 minutes after he was caught by Ingimarsson, but to City’s amazement Uriah Rennie did not give a penalty and booked the City midfielder instead.
The news on Richard Dunne at half time was that the skipper had had nine stitches put onto a cut in his leg.
The Blues started the second half brightly, with Gelson Fernandes chesting down a clearance and firing a volley straight at Hahnemann after sustained phase of City possession. Elano drilled in a shot on 55 minutes that just drifted past the right post, although the Reading keeper looked to have it covered.
Then it was the home side’s turn to threaten, with Doyle hitting the side netting after Corluka’s deflection, then Bikey hit the bar after the ball fell to him at the resulting corner.
And the afternoon improved for the Royals when they took the lead on 62 minutes. Doyle crossed from the left to Shane Long in space just in front of the six yard box, and the number 24 made no mistake in slotting the ball past Hart and into the bottom corner of the net.
With City having already used three substitutions, the sight of Michael Ball needing treatment with 19 minutes left was another worry, but after treatment off the pitch he returned back to the action.
As the clock began to run down, Elano shot from long range but saw his effort charged down. Johnson’s pass towards Benjani was just too far ahead of the striker and Hahnemann collected.
With four minutes left and the home fans starting to get anxious as City probed, Caicedo’s flicked header looped over and onto the roof of the net.
But they need not have worried, as with three minutes left Dave Kitson doubled the lead. The striker, on as a substitute for Long, was found in space on the left flank with Garrido out of position, he then cut in across the box and rolled the ball beyond Hart to tie up the three points for Reading.
mcfc.co.uk man of the match: Michael Johnson.