A Royal Affair: Game Seven

19 12 2006

We’re back in the Premiership this week following our League Cup victory over Burnley as we travel north to Middlesbrough, looking for their third victory of the season. After our impressive start to the campaign, can we keep the momentum flowing a pick up our fifth win?

Game Seven: Middlesbrough v Reading

We made a few changes ahead of the game, despite the victory and clean sheet obtained against the Clarets. Ingmarsson was rested, with Greg Halford stepping into the starting eleven at right back, while the wings were freshened up with Stephen Hunt and Kevin Doyle replacing Seol and Oster. Shane Long was also handed his second start following his goal against Burnley.

‘Boro started well, and claimed the first few shots on goal in the first half. Yakubu was as dangerous as ever, forcing runs into the box, but Greg Halford matched any attack with some skillful and at times tough tackling. Our only chance of a rather dull first 45 went to Leroy Lita, who did well to chase down a 50 yard pass from Kevin Doyle, before firing the ball into the arms of Mark Schwarzer. By half time, the home fans were becoming a little restless, and ours too were expecting a bit more action. The second half, thankfully, was not to disapoint.

In the first twenty minutes of the second half, the two teams almost took it in turns to attack their opponents. Reading went close with Harper and Long, while Middlesbrough were unlucky to see efforts by both Arca and Parnaby flash wide of the goal. With the clock ticking down, substitutes began warming up, the most important for us being Nicky Shorey, the first choice left back who hadn’t played since late July following a pre-season injury.  With Jon Harley looking tired, Shorey made his first appearance of the season for us, while Glen Little and Seol Ki -Hyeon replaced Leroy Lita and Shane Long in the hope of bringing about a late winner.

After 76 minutes, we finally got the breakthrough we were so despearately looking for. After a few chances, it fell down to two of the substitutes to get the ball rolling – quite literally. Little picked up a great ball by Doyle and lifted the ball into the path of Ki-Hyeon. The South Korean took the ball on well, and bounced through the ‘Boro defence to slot home his first ever goal for the Royals. We had taken the lead – but now we had to hang on to it.

Middlesbrough came forward in numbers, hoping to grab a point from the game. At the back, Halford, Sonko and Jones were doing a great job in not only protecting the goal but in protecting Shorey, who was still a little shaky on his first appearance. Sonko, who would later go on to win the Man of the Match award, had a great time at the back commanding the line and keeping our opponents at bay. Come full time, we felt as though we deserved the win thanks to our hard working defence. The performance was a little better than some of our previous games and we didn’t pick up any new injury worries. Shorey looked okay at the back, but it will be some time before he can play a full 90 minutes. We’ve achieved a great feat today: picking up another victory, another three points away from home, and with a clean sheet to boot. Our fourth victory in the Premiership would certainly help the points total – but with Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea still to play in the next four weeks, we need as many points as we can get at this stage of the season.

Next up we take on Charlton Athletic, a team who have enjoyed a fairly good start to the season , picking up three victories and two defeats. But can Reading really keep up this excellent start to the season, or will our defensive tactics be sounded out?

Middlesbrough 0-1 Reading
Goalscorers: Seol Ki-Hyeon
Current Points Total: 13
Points from target of 40: 27

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