Reading 1.v.2 Rovers
The Madjeski Stadium
16th December 2006. 15:00
Rovers finally picked up three points after a wonderful second half display that overcame Reading and the officials. McCarthy grabbed the equaliser after putting the ball in the back of the net for the fourth time today and David Bentley won the game with a wonderful strike.
Once again it was a similar story following a Rovers game dominated by poor refereeing that threatened to thwart Rovers in their pursuit for points.
The game began at a steady pace as both sides felt each other out. It was Rovers though, who upped the tempo early on. Jay McEveley injected some passion into the contest with a rash scything challenge on Glen Little. He was booked for his troubles in what was a sign of things to come from the officials.
Rovers enjoyed the early possession and had the ball in the back of the net in the fourteenth minute. However, in similar style to last week the offside flag went up against Benni McCarthy. Morten Gamst Pedersen had drilled in the shot but McCarthy was offside when he tapped in the rebound.
That scare stirred Reading into action. They soon had the game by the scruff of the neck with shots raining down on the Rovers goal.
Friedel had to be alert to a Kevin Doyle turn on 21 minutes and then demonstrated his alert reflexes with a wonderful double save; first from Ki-Seoul and then denying Harper from the rebound.
Reading continued to apply the pressure and were awarded a number of corners around the half hour mark. The game was being played out in the Rovers half, interspersed with rare long distance efforts from Rovers.
Steve Sidwell sent a powerful header crashing onto the cross bar from a long raking cross by former Burnley star Glen Little. A Reading goal looked inevitable as Rovers once again looked over-whelmed.
The goal eventually did arrive on 41 minutes. A neatly threaded through ball by Stephen Hunt found James Harper on the edge of the area and he drilled the ball past Friedel.
As Graeme Poll brought a close to an exiting first half, Reading were good value for their lead taking advantage of Rovers` haphazard defence.
Mark Hughes was visibly irate and he must have taken that frustration into the dressing room with him. The Rovers players emerged for the second half re-invigorated after being read the rioting act again by Hughes.
Immediately Rovers busied themselves, hassling the Reading players and adopting a more direct approach to the game. Shabani Nonda had been brought on for the second half, replacing Jay McEveley allowing Rovers to be more aggressive and more attacking.
The change in formation had visibly helped, but once again the officials were doing their hardest to ensure Rovers wouldn`t be taking anything from this game.
Just two minutes into the second half Benni McCarthy was put through on goal following a clever ball by Gamst. He lobbed the ball over the advancing Hahnemann but as it bobbled over the line the referee`s assistant had raised his flag, ruling out another McCarthy goal.
Hughes was inconsolable on the touchline, wondering, as every other Rovers fan wondered, what they needed to do to score properly.
His pondering was brought to an end in the 64th minute as McCarthy`s bullet header dragged Rovers level. This was the fourth time in the match and sixth time in the last two games that McCarthy had found the net and it came as a great relief that this attempt was allowed to stand.
A looping ball into the box by Lucas Neill was met by the diving figure of McCarthy, who had bravely hurled himself at the ball. His header zipped past the Reading 'keeper.
McCarthy was clearly jubilant with his effort and shared his over zealous celebrations with the referee`s assistant, something referee, Graeme Poll didn`t take a shining too.
Within a couple of minutes it was Reading`s 'keeper who was taking the plaudits following a wonderful double save, especially to deny David Bentley.
Rovers kept their heads up and continued attacking in what was turning out to be a dominant second half showing.
Unlike in previous games Rovers were the side who claimed a late goal to take the three points, just reward for another exciting and passionate second half display.
David Bentley picked the ball up inside the Reading half and proceeded to charge towards goal. After arriving at the edge of the area Bentley unleashed an unstoppable drive that flew over Hahemann and tore into the net.
A was a deserved winner for Rovers and a suitable goal to suggest this could be lift off for the rest of the season.
Took on Reading in a virtuoso one man display.