A Royal Affair: Game Eight

20 12 2006

Who’d have thought it: Reading, the team everyone tipped to be propping up the table throughout the season, are about to take on Charlton with the sort of previous form that a top criminal would be proud to call his own: three victories in succession, and all matched with clean sheets. With four wins out of six in the Premiership, will the Addicks become our fifth victims of the season, or will the run come to an end?

Reading v Charlton Athletic

The team remains largely unchanged from that which beat Middlesbrough, the only exception being Seol Ki-Hyeon replacing Stephen Hunt following his winning goal against ‘Boro. I’ve been quite open to change during my first few games, but with the squad looking fit and the players performing, I’ve kept changes to a minimum for this clash in the hope that a regular squad may provide better results.

My theory seemed to be working early on: we had four chances in the first eighteen minutes, compared with just one opportunity for Charlton. Our attacks were soon to pay off when Steve Sidwell set up James Harper to fire home after 19 minutes. Harpers goal set the ball rolling, as it were, although the midfielder did take a knock later on in the game and was forced off the pitch.

Harpers injury, thankfully, was nothing major, and after a couple of days rest, the midfielder was back in training.

Charlton’s goalkeeper, Scott Carson, was called into action on many an occasion, and with our side well on top, it was only a matter of time before we added to our lead. We couldn’t find another goal in the first half, but with the defence solid and the midfield showing much more fluid football than the Middlesbrough victory, three points could easily be ours as long as we could further cement our lead early in the second half.

Harper and Long were taken off to be replaced by Glen Little and Freddy Adu, with the latter making his first appearance since an injury picked up against Watford.

Charlton came out a lot stronger in the second half, with two attacks almost culminating with an equaliser. However, while our opponents pushed forward, we were able to capitalise on some rushed defending. Steve Sidwell’s free kick eventually came back to him on the edge of the area, and the midfielder fired home our second – and his third goal of the season.

After 68 minutes, just eleven minutes after his first, Sidwell grabbed a second with a well taken volley, putting the game beyond doubt. To add to Charlton’s misery, Andy Reid was sent off late in the game for a second yellow card. Nicky Shorey made a late appearance to aid his return to action following a pre-season injury, and looked a little fitter by the end of the game.

In all another three points – along with another clean sheet and a good performance – is something not to be sniffed at. We’ve started the season very well and with a hard working team we are surprising many. Charlton, however, will not be our toughest opponents, and with a two week break coming up for international fixtures, I can only hope that this fortnight will not stop the momentum currently flowing through the Madejski Stadium. When we do return to action, we’ll be travelling to Aston Villa, a team who have no victories to their name this season. Can we really do it and pick up another win?

Reading 3-0 Charlton
Goalscorers: James Harper, Steve Sidwell (2)
Attendance: 24,177
Current Points Total: 16
Points from target of 40: 24

Check out previous reports on the results page

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