Long inspires Royals to big win
26th December 2010
Shane Long scored two second half goals to put the seal on a convincing home win over Bristol City, after Jobi McAnuff and birthday boy Noel Hunt had scored first half goals. Jon Stead opened the scoring for the visitors but they fell apart and the Royals took full advantage.
Brian McDermott made one change to his starting 11, bringing in Chris Armstrong for Ian Harte who dropped to the bench. He said it was to freshen up his squad over the festive period but it may well have had something to do with Albert Adomah who had taken Harte to the cleaners in the earlier meeting this season at Ashton Gate.
It was the visitors who started the game better and we could have been 3-0 down before Jon Stead did actually give Keith Millen`s side the lead. That came when on loan Spurs defender Stephen Caulker got forward and chipped Adam Federici, who was needlessly off his line, only to see his effort come back off the bar however Stead was there to score his customary goal against the Royals. We were talking about Long`s record against Derby last week, well Stead has a similar one against us - whoever he is playing for he always scores!
That gave the Royals the kick up the backside they need and we started to play some nice football and it was no surprise when we equalised. The goal scorer was a bit of shock though, Jobi McAnuff scoring only his second goal of the season after seeing his original header turned onto the woodwork by David James.
Before the interval we were ahead, Adomah was slow to clear his lines on the edge of the area allowing Long to win the ball back and cross for Noel Hunt to tap into an empty net. It will be the easiest goal he would have scored in a while and a perfect way to celebrate his 27th Birthday.
After the break Long should have made the game safe after a great cross found him unmarked at the back post, however from close range he put the ball over the bar. Despite an excellent performance it looked like the striker was going to fail in front of goal again when James saved another header but the Irishman was not to be outdone.
A superb ball forward from the again impressive Alex Pearce sent Long through on goal and this time he got the better of former England keeper James with a neat finish at the near post.
With time running out a long ball forward was won in the air by Hunt and his header sent Long away for his second goal of the game and his fourth goal in two games. It was his 8th goal of the season and he is finally starting to add the goals to his all round game.
With a long trip North to play Hull on Tuesday, this was a welcome win and extends our unbeaten run to 7 games.