since 1878

Ipswich Town (0) 0 - 3 (1) Reading

Coca-Cola Championship 2005-06

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Referee: P Melin

Manager: Joe Royle

Portman Road 19:45

Attendance: 22,621

Manager: Steve Coppell

Match Number: 3131


 S Sidwell (29)
 L Lita (53)
 K Doyle (77)


G LittleJ Oster (78)
B ConveyS Hunt (78)





M Hahnemann

G Murty

I Sonko

I Ingimarsson

N Shorey

G Little

J Harper

B Convey

S Sidwell

L Lita

K Doyle



G Stack

S Hunt

J Oster

C Makin

E Obinna

Match Report

Royal Doyle seals deal to send Reading to the top

According to the latest managerial statistics only Jose Mourinho is currently a more effective manager than Steve Coppell. The comparison may be specious but there is a sureness of touch about Coppell's team at the moment which suggests Reading might just go on to win the Championship in much the same manner as Chelsea will surely take the Premiership. The extent to which they were better than opponents who apparently harbour play-off ambitions was remarkable.

So much so, in fact, that even the habitually deadpan Coppell was briefly moved to smile, though not, he insisted, because this victory took the Royals to the top of the table for the first time this season. "It really means nothing to us; it's not part of our pysche, not what we're about. What matters is that we played well, really well, and we'll continue to try and do that," he said.

It has been 67 years, and 40 matches, since this fixture produced a goalless draw and it quickly became apparent that the sequence was not going to be broken. In fact such was Reading's early superiority that it was something of a surprise the visitors had not established a decisive lead within the opening quarter. Leroy Lita was ruled offside when he headed the ball into the net after Lewis Price had saved Steve Sidwell's drive in the seventh minute and, soon afterwards, Ipswich's young Welsh international goalkeeper was called upon to make further good saves from both Sidwell and Lita. Moreover Ivar Ingimarsson, unmarked at the far post, miskicked from close range.

The Ipswich defence, never the tightest of units, was being prised apart with such ease by Reading's speed of movement and slick passing that the opening goal, swept home by Sidwell after Kevin Doyle's shot had been miraculously blocked on the line, was utterly inevitable. More would surely have followed in short order had the Ipswich manager Joe Royle not made changes in both personnel and formation. Richard Naylor, whose failure to cope with Lita's pace was absolute, was moved from central defence to partner Nicky Forster up front and the somewhat more athletic Fabian Wilnis came on to partner Jason de Vos in the middle of the back four. It made no difference; with Glen Little causing havoc down the right Ipswich remained very much on the back foot. The ironic cheer which greeted the winning of a corner by the home team shortly before half-time told you all you needed to know about the extent to which the visitors were dominating.

The danger was that it was all too straightforward for Coppell's team and the header which Naylor looped over Marcus Hahnemann's goal shortly after the break was a reminder they were only a goal to the good. Forster, against his old club, had another chance after 51 minutes but pulled his shot wide. Within seconds Reading broke, Lita and Doyle exchanged passes and Lita's right-foot finish was superb.

That was very much that, for all that Royle made another change and urged his demoralised team forward. Each time they tried to do so they ran up against a brick wall in the shape of the superbly organised Reading back four and were immediately left vulnerable to the visitors' speed and inventiveness on the break. Reading's third, scored by Doyle after Lita flicked back Ibrahim Sonko's header from a corner, ensured the scoreline was a more accurate reflection of the game, Reading's 19th undefeated in the league equalling a club record set in 1973.

Richard Rae (Guradian Unlimited)

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2005-06 Reports