The Scene: King Power Stadium, Leicester: 13th August 2011
Result: Leicester City 0-2 Reading
When the fixture list for the upcoming Championship season was published on the 17th June earlier this year, little did we know the significance of the Royals visit to Leicester City on the 13th August.
With the club recovering from a defeat at Wembley in the play-off final, attention soon turned to which players may depart the club and the name of captain Matt Mills was frequently mentioned with Leicester City and Wolves the frontrunners to land the central defender.
A difference in valuation meant an agreement with Wolves wasn’t likely, but a deal was reached with Leicester reported to be worth in the region of £5.1 million. The player had been lured by a fellow Championship side who had offered the defender a significantly healthier contract along with the promise of more stars to arrive at the King Power Stadium.
Reading fans shared a mixture of thoughts on the matter; some were pleased the club cashed in on a defender who had 12 months to run on a contract who had no intention of signing a new deal while others were angry at the motives behind his move to a fellow Championship side who seemingly could have joined Wolves who could offer Premier League football.
In his two years at the club Mills had enjoyed a frosty relationship with the Reading fans. His gesture towards the East Stand in a match against Millwall earned him a two week fine and McDermott’s decision to award him the captaincy didn’t go down to well with some fans.
Yet on the biggest of occasions on the field of playMills produced the goods and his winner at Everton in the 5th Round of the FA Cup earlier this year will go down in Reading history as the club enjoyed a second successive quarter-final berth in the competition while it was his header that so nearly started the real comeback in the playoff final defeat to Swansea.
Despite his attempts to make peace with the fans via an open letter on the club’s official website, it was clear Mills and Leicester City would be in for a tough afternoon when the sides met in early August.
In the match itself, Mills was jeered by the Reading fans from the start and it had the desired effect. The player was forced into errors and had clearly been affected by the jeers levelled at him. Reading had played well in the first-half and were pleased to go into the half-time interval level.
McDermott’s side responded superbly in the second-half to produce a classic display. The side were threatening on the break with Kebe giving the Leicester defence a torrid afternoon and they deservedly went ahead when Ian Harte’s corner had been met by the head of Noel Hunt. The win was sealed in the final minutes when Hal Robson-Kanu curled into the top corner to give Reading their first win of the season against the heavy summer spenders.
The result also fell in the same week as the departure of Shane Long to West Brom and any lingering doubts about the club’s inability to compete with their star players leaving were soon put to bed.