Hunt Puts Daggers to the Sword
As distant lightning lit up stormy skies, Reading scrapped it out with Dagenham & Redbridge on Tuesday night for the chance to go through to the 2nd round of the Carling Cup.
It was an opportunity for the younger members of the squad to shine as Julian Kelly and Alex Pearce lined up at the back, and James Henry had a place on the wing. Gylfi Sigurdsson, Simon Church, Jem Karacan and Mikkel Andersen also had places on the bench, but weren`t used.
Like Sundays league draw with Nottingham Forest, it wasn`t pretty, but thanks to two debut goals from James Henry and Noel Hunt, the Royals scraped through with a 2-1 win.
The Daggers started the game the liveliest with several attacks on goal forcing clearances from Marcus Hahnemann and the Reading defence, but it wasn`t long before Noel Hunt had his first effort on goal easily swept up by Tony Roberts, the Dagenham keeper.
Dagenham seemed to have the lion-share of possession and time and again Sam Saunders managed to get deliveries in, with Ben Strevens and Paul Benson aiming to make the most of them, looking confident on the break
Reading began to get into their stride, and when Bobby Convey`s cross wasn`t collected by Roberts under pressure from Shane Long, Henry was in the right place to tap it in for his first Reading goal.
This proved to be the catalyst for plenty of Reading possession with Convey, Pearce, both Stephen and Noel Hunt and Long all involved in the attack, but no end product before half-time.
Reading started the second half brightly enough, and Noel Hunt nearly scored when his shot from his brother`s cross hit the crossbar. But Dagenham were soon back on level terms when Solomon Taiwo`s effort managed to beat Hahnemann from 25 yards.
It looked like the Daggers might score again as Hahnemann was tested time and again, with Paul Benson looking dangerous. But in the dying minutes of the game, Long was able to take the ball down the wing allowing Noel Hunt to run in and put away his own debut goal as the ball ricocheted off a Dagenham player. His cartwheel celebration was much enjoyed.
After the match, Steve Coppell was quick to praise Shane Long saying: 'We got the first goal from a great leap from Shane Long - James Henry finished it off but it was borne out of Shane`s leap. We had to depend on the physical qualities of Shane with his pace at the death to make the difference. If Shane realised the potential he has in the locker he`d be a hell of a player. He`s so humble with his physical qualities that he almost doesn`t push himself to the limit all the time.'
After two far from impressive performances, the Royals will get a chance to impress the Madejski Stadium faithful when they take on Plymouth this Saturday.