May 13th 2011
So we drew then? Indeed, a 0-0 draw in the first leg of our play-off semi-final with Cardiff City means we have to win at the Cardiff City Stadium on Tuesday to make it to Wembley.
The Team? Federici, Griffin, Harte, Khizinishvili, Mills, Leigertwood, Karacan, Robson-Kanu (Manset), McAnuff, Hunt (Howard), Long.
MOTM: Jem Karacan - The Turkish U21 international was everywhere, constantly harrassing the City midfield and making some key tackles.
Match Highlights: Via Sky Sports
Tilehurst End Match Report In Brief:
So after all of the hype nerves and build up, the end result is that our season now boils down to one or hopefully two 'cup finals' after neither the Royals nor Cardiff could take the advantage in the first leg at the Mad Stad.
Not that anyone should be shocked at the final score, after all it was what I predicted in the match preview and when have I ever been wrong before?.... All joking aside and a 0-0 was something that was always likely after Jimmy Kebe was ruled out of the game due to his thigh injury and Cardiff skipper Craig Bellamy was forced off after just 17 minutes with a hamstring injury. From that point on both sides lacked the extra spark they needed to break the deadlock in a game where neither keeper was very busy.
For the first half an hour neither side had a clear advantage, with the only significant chances a shot across the face of goal by Bellamy and a 30 yard drive from Noel Hunt. But after Bellamy went off Reading began to slowly assert themselves and spent the end of the first half laying siege to the Cardiff goal, without creating much in the way of a clear-cut chance. Our best opportunity came just before the half time whistle when a break away from a corner sent Hal Robson-Kanu through on goal, only for the Welsh winger to get the ball caught in his feet and allow the impressive McNaughton time to get back and make an excellent tackle.
The other main talking point of the first half was Premier League referee Mark Halsey who's inconsistency and general whistle happy approach ensured that the game never really got into a rhythm. I'm all for having 'the best' referees in the Championship wherever possible, but part of me wonders whether it would be better to have guys who have been referring in this league all year, at least then the players know what they can/can't get away with.
The second half was again a fairly even affair, neither side really created much though Reading did flash a couple of balls across the face of goal. The home side lost Hal Robson-Kanu through a hamstring injury shortly after the restart and that brought the Beast into play up front with Hunt going onto the right-wing. The former Hereford man looked a handful but his control was woeful and his passing not much better. I can't help but wonder why Simon Church wasn't given a run out on the right but still.
By the time we were in the final 10 minutes it was clear Cardiff were happy with taking the game to Wales level and despite our huffing and puffing there was no way through. 0-0 the final score. The result was just about fair, though I don't think the away side could have begrudged the Royals a 1-0 lead. I don't think we've got much to fear from Dave Jones side in the second leg and I still back us to get to Wembley, but we'll have a full second leg preview on Tuesday here on The Tilehurst End.
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