Reading made it two wins out of two in March with a deserved win at home to Man City.
After breaking the run of eight defeats in a row at Middlesbrough last week, Steve Coppell’s men made it two wins in two games and jumped to the dizzy heights of 13th in the Premier League.
With Leroy Lita inexplicably loaned out to Charlton, the Royals frontline were under a lot of pressure to justify the decision and they duly repaid the faith their manager had showed in them, Shane Long and substitute Dave Kitson scoring their first goals of 2008, with Kevin Doyle chipping in with an excellent assist.
It was a pretty lacklustre first half from both sides, but City could have easily gone in front after Uriah Rennie gave the first of several ridiculous decisions.
Benjani rode a challenge from Liam Rosenior and continued with the ball before losing possession. Despite Benjani staying on his feet and their being no contact what so ever, Rennie decided to award City the free kick.
Reading were nearly punished by the ref’s incompetency as an excellent Elano free kick was somehow knocked over the bar by Vedran Corluka with Marcus Hahnemann well beaten.
Rennie redeemed himself later in the half with an equally appalling decision, choosing to book Michael Johnson for simulation when there was clear contact in the penalty area by Ivar Ingimarsson.
Apart from Corluka’s early miss, neither side really threatened in the first half.
Reading looked the better side in the second half and you could sense a goal coming.
The impressive André Bikey nearly broke the deadlock but his close range strike was tipped onto the bar by Joe Hart.
Minutes later, the Royals did get in front.
Kevin Doyle showed great determination down the left handside, out-muscling Michael Ball before cutting back a lovely ball for fellow Irishman Shane Long, who calmly slotted a first time shot into the bottom corner.
Long should have made it two nil a minute later, again Kevin Doyle was the provider as his cross found Long completely free, but he failed to hit the target with a poor header.
Rather than sitting back, Reading went looking for a second goal to kill the game.
Dave Kitson was brought on for Shane Long, and the ginger striker had been on the pitch just five minutes before he sealed the points for the Royals.
A quick free kick from fellow sub Kalifa Cisse found Kitson on the right hand side. Rather than taking the ball to the corner to run down the clock, Kitson cut inside, skipped passed two City defenders and cooly placed a shot passed Hart in the City goal.
Had City been given the penalty in the first half it could have been a different game, but Reading rode their luck and got the three points they eventually deserved.
Marcus Hahnemann 7
Didn’t really have much to do but was solid when needed, showed safe hands on a number of occasions by plucking City crosses out of the air.
Liam Rosenior 8
Kept Darius Vassel in his pocket, not once did he let a cross go past him. Looked good going forward as well.
Nicky Shorey 7
Another comfortable display from the Engalnd international. Was composed in his defending. Seems to have put his poor form behind him.
André Bikey 8
Very solid at the back and nearly got a goal after showing great determination in the opposite penalty area. Quickly becoming a fan favourite.
Ivar Ingimarsson 8
The stand-in/new captain led by example. Organised the defense well, didn’t let anything go past him. Has been pivotal in Reading’s clean sheets in the last two games.
James Harper 7
A bit of an unsung hero this year. Harper runs his socks off every game and clears up any loose balls in front of the defence, starting to form a nice partnership with Matejovsky.
Marek Matejovsky 8
Every time he is on the ball you sense he can create something. His passing was once again spot on. Showed a moment of pure quality when flicking the ball over Hamann’s head.
Stephen Hunt 7
Was a work horse as always, although his most important contribution was inadvertantly injuring Richard Dunne.
John Oster 7
Gets a lot of stick from the fans which probably leads to him being slightly nervous on the ball. Looked much more comfortable when Reading went in front, showed moments of quality with some nice touches and passes.
Kevin Doyle 8
Works his socks off and is desperate for a goal. Did superbly to set up Long’s goal, looked dead on his feet at the final whistle.
Shane Long 7
Apart from the goal he wasn’t a great threat. Still looks to be better as an impact sub rather than a starter. Did take his goal well however and will be a top player in the future.
Steve Coppell 8.
Kept a winning side after the Boro game. Has silenced the critics after the Lita loan decision, with Long and Kitson both getting on the score sheet.