A Royal Affair: Game Six

11 12 2006

We’re taking a break from the Premiership as we entertain Championship side Burnley in the Carling Cup Second Round. Our visitors knocked out Lincoln in the last round, although their form this season has been rather patchy. After a solid two-nil victory over Watford in the Premiership at the weekend, can the Royals continue their surprising start to the season by progressing to the third round?

Reading v Burnley 

We attacked well in the victory over Watford, and so no wanting to disrupt the team too much, the only change to the side was the inclusion of Seol Ki-Hyeon, who replaced the injured Freddy Adu on the left wing. I knew I could have fielded a weaker squad than the one that started – especially considering that ten of these players had started a Premiership game just four days ago. But unlike some managers I don’t see the Carling Cup as something that gets in the way. If it’s a piece of silverware and a possible road to Europe, then we should give it our all.

Just two minutes into the game, Leroy Lita took a knock in a light challenge, and while able to continue, the effects of the challenge were clear to see. With a few players out already (including, but not limited to: first choice left back, first choice and second choice left wing, third and fourth choice strikers) I didn’t want to take too much of a risk with Lita, so at half time the forward made way for Shane Long. The first half was quite evenly balanced, although in terms of real chances, Reading were by far the most dangerous. I was surprised that we hadn’t taken the lead by half time, but with the defence still looking strong and solid, I knew it was only a matter of time before we could break down our opponents.

As well as the withdrawel of Lita, Glen Little and Greg Halford also came on at half time to replace John Oster and Kevin Doyle. The second half began much as the first, with Reading creating many chances but never quite finding the elusive goal. However, with twelve minutes to go we found the break through we deserved. After a long range effort from James Harper rebounded off the post, Little found Sidwell in space to fire home his second goal in two games. Straight from the kick off, Burnley came at us to try and find an equaliser. But when Greg Halford won the ball in the middle of the park, we were right back in attack. Sidwell, impressive in the centre of midfield, found substitute Shane Long, who slotted home our second goal to kill off any possible chance of recovery for Burnley.

The game was, in reflection, quite one sided, with the Royals have three times as many chances than Burnley. We took our two goals very well, and while it was a shame that we couldn’t have added to the collection, a victory is a victory, and I have no complaints with the manner in which we progressed to the third round.

Lita’s injury proved to be nothing more than a niggle, and he was back in training the next day reading for the weekends visit to Middlesbrough. But can the form continue? Back to back clean sheets and victories coupled with some excellent performances are turning this season into a very encouraging debut for Reading’s Premiership dream. And with first choice left back Nicky Shorey now ready to make his first appearance since a pre-season injury ruled him out of the squad, even our injury problems are starting to subside. For now.

Game Stats:

Reading 2-0 Burnley (Carling Cup 2nd Round)
Goalscorers: Sidwell and Long
View the Results List

Reading v Burnley Ratings

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