The Royals were thoroughly outclassed at St James Park, with a Shola Ameobi hat trick giving Newcastle a convincing 3-0 win.
If Brendan Rodgers first two games had got fans excited at the prospect of watching our young new look side, this game brought all that optimism crashing back down to earth. Our new manager opted to bring Shane Long in upfront, dropping Hal Robson Kanu and shifting Simon Church to the right of a three man attack.
The game began with the Newcastle fans in fine voice after the minutes applause for the late, great, Sir Bobby Robson and the Toon began well from the off looking to put in a performance to make their former manager proud. The sides exchanged early chances, Stephen Taylor failing to trouble Adam Federici while Shane Long also fired wide and couldn`t test the gloves of Steve Harper.
The first real chance of the game came when Jonas Gutierrez got in behind the Reading defence but hesitated and couldn`t get his shot away allowing Jem Karacan to track back before the Argentinean stabbed across goal towards Joey Barton but striker Andy Carroll took it off his foot but wasted the chance.
Former Leeds and Manchester United midfielder Alan Smith had a massive let off before we were even half way through the first half, firstly he was booked for a late tackle on Church before crashing into Karacan just moments later, getting off with just a warning for the second tackle.
It took 35 minutes for a keeper to have to make a save and Federici did well to deny Gutierrez but just a couple of minutes later he could do nothing about Ameobi`s header. Jose Enrique got forward well from left back and put over a great ball towards the back post and the striker rose well to head low into the corner of the net and send St James park wild.
Straight up the other end Ryan Bertrand delivered a similar ball in but Scott Davies and then Long couldn`t get anything on it and it went out for a goal kick. Ameobi tested Federici again before the break but we went in a goal down.
The first chance of the second period came after a mistake from Kalifa Cisse trying to play the offside trap and Ameobi was clear in down the left hand side, he cut back and fired an effort just wide of the far post – a real let of for the Royals.
The ineffective Church was taken off before the hour, replaced by Hal Robson Kanu, but he had hardly touched the ball before it was 2-0 and it was Ameobi again. Alex Pearce switched off when a ball appeared to be going out of play but Kevin Nolan had other ideas and cut it back to Ryan Taylor whose deep cross found Ameobi who scored his second goal of the game with ease.
The striker almost had a hat trick when he was given the space of the Royals box to head goal wards but Federici tipped over well. At the other end Robson Kanu should have scored after a great solo run but he blasted high and wide and he will live to regret it as the game was well and truely finished off not long after.
A deep cross was handled by Long and the ref awarded a clear penalty, there was no surprise when Ameobi stepped up and completed his hat trick, the first of his professional career for the local lad. The Royals were well beaten and the final whistle couldn`t come soon enough, despite a late effort from sub Noel Hunt we looked a side that had been taught a lesson by the bookies favourite for promotion. Vital Reading was left wondering why we had predicted Newcastle to down before the season started!
Adam Federici 7
No chance with any of the goals and kept us in the game with some good saves
Liam Rosenior 6
Defended well at times with a couple of decent last ditch tackles
Ryan Bertrand 5
Couple of good balls in but defensive work needs improving
Alex Pearce 5
Switched off for Newcastle’s second goal
Kalifa Cisse 5
Often left playing attackers onside, most notably Ameobi in the second half
Worked tirelessly and tracked back well in the defensive midfield role
Never got hold of the game in midfield
Some good running from the middle and a few good set piece deliveries but has a lot to learn still
Hardly got a touch of the ball
Was he playing?
Battled well first half a looked a threat, not so much in the second half and gave away the penalty with a blatent handball
Robson Kanu 5 (For Church 53 Mins)
Wasted great chance with the game at 2-0
Harper 5 (For Tabb 65)
Didn’t see much of the ball
Went very close at the end with an effort that just whistled past the post