Royals Home Form Continues
Sunny days are back at the Madejski Stadium as Reading continued their unbroken run of wins at home - and not just wins by a goal or two, this was another big win as Reading managed to slot four goals past a Swansea team that they just outclassed on the day.
Admitting that Swansea have a continental style of play that had to be catered for, Steve Coppell made a few changes to the team that beat Sheffield Wednesday at home and drew away at Watford.
Fit again Ivor Ingimarsson came in at the back, with Andre Bikey favoured over Alex Pearce, whilst in midfield James Harper was deemed unfit due to an ankle problem and Brynjar Gunnarsson came back to take his place after an absence of several months.
James Henry, who scored a brace against Stoke in the week was given a place on the bench, and young Mikkel Andersen joined him as substitute goalkeeper after Adam Federici`s move on loan to Southend for some match practice.
Within the first ten minutes Reading took several chances on goal with Jem Karacan having a shot deflected, Chris Armstrong attempting a speculative effort from 25 yards out and Kevin Doyle, Noel Hunt and Gunnarsson all just missing their target.
It was on 19 minutes that Reading finally scored as Noel Hunt headed the ball home from his brother Stephen`s corner.
More goal attempts followed with Stephen Hunt having a beautiful cross put over the bar by Ingimarsson and almost finding the net himself with a curling attempt from a free kick 25 yards out. Dorus De Vries, the Swansea goalkeeper, managed to push the ball out only to find Armstrong cutting it back in, but in the end the ball went out for a corner.
Reading`s second goal came from teamwork as Stephen Hunt back-heeled the ball to Armstrong who was able to cross the ball in. When the ball was only half cleared, Kebe was able to knock it back to Noel Hunt who passed to Doyle to hook in from 12 yards out.
Swansea`s best chance came from Jordi Gomez whose volley at goal was closer than it first appeared. Royals 'keeper Marcus Hahnemann left it, and the ball went just wide to the relief of the crowd. However Gomez was not flavour of the month with the home fans and after several times going to ground, boos echoed out around the stadium whenever he was on the ball.
With more chances coming their way, Gunnarsson and Kebe both tried their luck from distance, and it was thanks to Kebe that Armstrong found a way through the Swansea defence to set up the next goal, Stephen Hunt applying a back-up finish when Doyle appeared to slip at the last moment in the box.
3-0 up at half-time, and the Royals looked as if they would be on for another 6-0 drubbing of their opponents, but after a couple of changes in the Swansea team, Reading appeared more relaxed in the second half and allowed their Welsh counterparts more time on the ball.
Despite the added pressure from Swansea, Reading still looked the better side. Both Hunts and Kebe took the ball on runs up the wing to threaten the Swansea defence once more. It was however, Swansea who almost scored next when a Gomez free kick ricocheted off the crossbar.
With twenty minutes remaining, Reading made a succession of substitutions with Kalifa Cisse coming on for Gunnarsson, Shane Long replacing Noel Hunt and James Henry making his debut in place of Kebe.
In the remaining minutes Swansea tried to make something happen, but found it hard to beak down the Blues` defence, Ferrie Bodde attempting a couple of long-range shots that sailed over the bar and Gomez heading the ball into Hahnemann`s arms.
In the end, it was a break by Stephen Hunt that led to Reading`s fourth goal when his pass found Doyle who was able to slot it home for hsi seconed of the game on the 90th minute. It seemed like Doyle would find a third for a third successive home hat-trick when the whistle blew for the end of the match.
Reading are now looking towards their next game against top of the Championship Wolves, a point that Steve Coppell was quick to make after the match.
He said: "They`ve had some good results. But it is a real marathon test and maintaining it is the hardest part.
"In the first 45 minutes we were terrific. It was as good a performance as we`ve shown. As for Stephen [Hunt], he is no respecter of reputations, as he showed in the Premier League. Whoever he`s up against, he just goes flat out and doesn`t temper his game for anyone."
So far though, Reading have been unable to transfer their home performances to their away form and the battle on Tuesday night still looks a tough one.