Date:Monday August 28 2006
Wigan 1 - 0 Reading
Reading failed to impress against a Wigan team that was average at best
What may have struck many about Readings performances last season was even when they played badly they still got the result, unfortunately this wasn't to be the case at the JJB Stadium. With barely 10 minutes left to play in a first half that saw both teams performing badly, Emile Heskey slotted home from Lee McCulloch`s defence-cutting flick on.
It was a game that the Royals could have expected to take some points out of- after a brave fight back to beat 'Boro 3-2 on the first day of the season and a terribly narrow loss against Villa midweek- Steve Coppell`s men were certainly not going to be a walk in the park for Wigan.
The Royals started off positively with American winger Bobby Convey playing Leroy Lita in on goal from the wing. Kirkland made a fantastic save, parrying Lita`s effort away and was lucky that it was his defence that followed in rather then the Reading attack.
Henri Camara`s pace earned him a corner from debutant Sam Sodje, Valencia`s cross finding Heskey who powered a blistering header off the angle of the bar as goalkeeper Hahnemann could do nothing but watch on. Camara left the field minutes later with a hamstring injury gained earning the corner.
Wigan went close again when replacement Connolly saw Antonio Valencia in space outside of him. Valencia blasted a powerful shot at goal that Hahnemann pushed left for corner.
The Royals could not seem to respond to Wigan`s attacks, their own wasted with a barrage of long balls that Lita and Doyle had no chance of getting on the end of against tall defender like Fitz-Hall and Boyce.
Wigan`s attacks finally paid off 38 minutes in, when Lee McCulloch brushed on a pass from Paul Scahrner and played Heskey through. The figure of Hahnemann wasn`t enough to put Heskey off as he slotted the ball inches to the left of the American keeper and claimed his Premiership first goal of the season and broke his League goal drought since back in February.
Wigan came on top of the first half pushing Reading back all the way till the whistle.
Most notably, substitute Connolly`s chance on goal smothered by Marcus Hahnemann.
Reading`s poor performance continued in the second half, with Wigan idly threatening to nail the coffin with a second. Reading still playing halfhearted long balls, many of which came straight from Hahnemann`s goal, and allowing Wigan to win the open ball and work their way back at Reading.
A corner won in the 54th minute by Bobby Convey saw Reading create a good chance. Opting for the first time (and much to the fans delight) to play it into the box rather then short, Nicky Shorey found Ingimarsson dashing in but the defender couldn`t find the target heading wide.
John Oster and Stephen Hunt replaced Convey and Seol on the wings; both of whom had seemed ineffective in comparison with glowing performances in past matches. The substitutes offered something a little different and the final 15minutes of the game saw more end-to-end excitement although through of Reading`s chances were taken.
Wigan were unfortunate when a penalty decision went against them, Sodje`s late tackle on Kavanagh waved away, while down the other end Stephen Hunt found himself in a goal scoring position only to have Valencia making a crucial challenge.
Graham Kavanagh could have put the game out of Reading`s grasp after he found himself through on goal with only the keeper to beat, but he pitifully shot the ball into diving Hahnemann`s feet.
Leroy Lita came close with the final significant chance of the match when John Oster played him through on goal. But the Million Pound Man shot straight at the out coming Kirkland who parried it away.
Reading pushed everything forward as the game came to close, but as the referee blew his whistle for full time it seemed like it just wasn`t to be. Wigan 1 -0 Reading.
Wigan: Kirkland, Boyce, Hall, De Zeeuw, Baines, Valencia, Scharner, Landzaat (Kavanagh 78), McCulloch, Camara (Connolly 20), Heskey (Chimbonda 76).
Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Jackson.
Goals: Heskey 38.
Reading: Hahnemann, Murty, Ingimarsson, Sodje, Shorey, Ki-Hyeon (Hunt 69), Sidwell, Harper (Long 87), Convey (Oster 64), Doyle, Lita.
Subs Not Used: Stack, Gunnarsson.
Ref: M Riley (W Yorkshire).
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