Writer: Sarah Star
Date:Monday August 11 2008
From the start this new season has proved that it`s going to be tough for Reading.
Their first game at Nottingham Forest showed that even though the two teams were literally leagues apart last season, in the Championship previous glories mean nothing.
As the game kicked off, Forest started as they meant to carry on - by playing a slick passing game and keeping possession. Reading seemed to hang back waiting for the opposition to make their move. Several times Forest got the ball up to the box, but maybe because three of their front men were injured, never really troubled Marcus Hahnemann with their shots on goal.
Rob Earnshaw did his best though assisted by the immense Guy Moussi, and they never gave up trying. Reading had less possession, fewer chances on goal, and had to work hard to get the ball up the field, but the Forest defence usually managed to get the ball out of trouble.
The best chance of the game fell to Kevin Doyle near the end and his header from a Stephen Hunt cross could so easily have hit the back of the net had Paul Smith not pulled off a leaping save for the Reds. The ball was deflected off the crossbar onto the ground, but unluckily for the Royals, not over the goal line.
Ibrahima Sonko was probably man of the match for the Royals as his height and head were put to good use at both ends of the pitch, although a direct hit from Moussi to deflect a strike from goal had him reeling when it struck him on the chin.
From a Reading point of view, the worst thin to come out of the game other than the performance was an injury to Marek matejovsky.
An innocuous looking tackle had Matejovsky writhing on the ground with ankle problems in the first half. The ankle ligament damage will mean he is out for several weeks after only just recovering from similar damage sustained in the European Championships.
The only Reading substitute used in the game was Kalifa Cisse who came on for the injured Matejovsky. Perhaps this was Coppell`s mistake. For all his words of being too loyal to players, the team had an old school look to it and I would have liked to see some of the youngsters get their chance on the field, particularly as Stephen Hunt was playing out of position where perhaps Julian Kelly or Alex Pearce could have done a job.
Reading found it hard to get close to goal and, after his success pre-season, it was a surprise not to see Jem Karacan amongst the substitutes. He`ll have the chance to show the Reading management what they missed midweek in the Cup match against Dagenham & Redbridge on Tuesday.
Still, this was the Royals first real test and they managed to grind out a draw - even having a chance to grab all three points, but it wasn`t pretty. This performance should be a wake up call to those already in the team that they either need to step up a gear or new blood is needed. I think it may be the latter.
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Date:Monday August 11 2008
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