Late heartbreak for brave Royals in City defeat
22nd December 2012
Attendance: 47,007 (832 away)
Royals boss Brian McDermott opted to make four changes to the side that was beaten convincingly by Arsenal on Monday, with Ian Harte, Alex Pearce, Chris Gunter and the returning Jem Karacan coming in. It was a steady start from both sides, with the hosts opting for a five-man midfield in this game, which proved effective in the second half against Arsenal in the week.
It look City a while to adjust to their usual high tempo, but the lively Aguero almost found an opening as Tevez`s delicate ball was pounced on well by Adam Federici, who smothered well before the Argentine could get onto it. The pressure from the home side continued to build, with Aguero once again at the forefront of the attack, but his enticing cross was too deep for his team mates.
Twenty minutes in and Australian international Federici was forced into making a meaningful save, as he came out to deny Tevez from close range from Silva`s smart flick. Brian McDermott`s side looked to create problems from set-pieces, which the home side have struggled from this season, but none of Ian Harte`s trademark deliveries troubled Joe Hart in the Manchester City goal.
Federici was forced into action again soon after, this time to deny a powerful Gareth Barry header, from Tevez`s dangerous ball. Reading did have the odd break to worry the City backline, but as you would expect, the hosts finished the half the stronger. Pablo Zabeleta`s effort was deflected onto the roof of the net, but the corner was easily dealt with by McDermott`s men.
The second period started in a similar vein to the first, as Roberto Mancini`s side pressed for that all important goal in this encounter. Garcia won a free kick off of Mikele Leigertwood outside the area, but Tevez`s delivery was punched away confidently by the goalkeeper. City brought on Dzeko and almost made an immediate impact, but Aguero`s cross was over hit.
The height of the striker was starting to cause problems for the Royals backline and he made contact with a cross this time round, but his header went just wide. There was a very good penalty appeal for Reading with twenty minutes to play, as Jay Tabb was appeared to have been blocked off by debutant Rekik, but referee Mike Dean waved any Reading claims away.
The home side were beginning to become frustrated as injury time approached, but Aguero almost reacted his heroics from the last campaign, but his effort only hit the side netting. However, Reading hearts were broken into the four minutes of injury time, as a cross to the back post for headed in by Gareth Barry, to send the Etihad Stadium into pandemonium.
It was sickening for the Royals, who had worked so hard to deny the Premier League champions what appeared to be a complete mismatch before kick-off. Despite the result, we can take tremendous heart from the game and hopefully it will prove to Brian how we are a much better side packing out the midfield, denying the opposition space to penetrate us and get battered!
Man City: Hart, Zabaleta, K Toure, Nastasic, Rekik, Barry, Garcia, Silva, Y Toure (C), Aguero, Tevez
Subs: Wright, Lescott, Kompany, Razak, Milner, Sinclair, Dzeko
Reading: Federici, Gunter, Mariappa, Pearce, Harte, Kebe, Leigertwood, Karacan, Tabb, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Shorey, Gorkss, Guthrie, Robson-Kanu, Le Fondre, Hunt