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Reading 1 - AFC Bournemouth 2

Madejski Stadium

7th December 2013 3pm

Attendance: 20,944

Professional Cherries make Royals work

A packed away end delighted in a smart and tidy afternoons work from Howe's side as we eased to a rare away win at Reading.

Howe rang the changes going 4-5-1, the usual back four with Surman coming into midfield with Arter and Okane, Pugh and Ritchie wide supporting Grabban up top.

The plan from the start was clear, soak up Reading possession and look to counter. And so for the opening stages, Reading set the pace. They had a lot of possession, working the ball around looking to penetrate our normally flakey spine. Except, this time, that spine stood up to the pressure and took it.

Billy Sharp was lively and chased things down, the Saints loanee drawing some stick threatened to score when his effort was blocked on the line.

But as the first half went on we became more comfortable, and somewhat against the run of play we even took the lead.

Daniels floated in a free kick, Elhpick rose highest to head at goal. The keeper parried the ball into the box, bouncing around the when Grabban pounced to smash the ball into the net seemingly taking the net off from close range, he was making no mistake. Cue chaos in the away end.

The visibly became more confident in midfield, instead of us containing we now became proactive and were stringing touches and passes together. The lead was doo doubled to really set the away end alight, as Ritchie marched forward to the edge of the box and hit it. It looked a little tame, will the keeper get it? No! It's in! Perhaps the keeper should have done better, we didn't care.

Arter and Surman really took command, and this frustrated the opposite midfield who at times couldn't get the ball off them. The first half was seen out to massive applause from the traveling support.

Second half, we expected the kitchen sink and all, there was no way we would get away comfortably. Massive Russian centre forward Pogregebyak came on. But instead of sticking to passing and possession, Reading saw the big Russian as a target for hoofball. Our midfield 5 did so well hassling and pushing, that the only alternative became the longer balls into the box. And that where Tommy Elphick really came into his own.

Watching Reading try and break us down was a lot like watching us at home lately. Struggling to get passing together in the middle, everything went wide, and everything was crossed in. Elphick dominated his penalty area, and when he couldn't get it Camp was happy to claim. We were biting our nails of course, but in reality Reading were mostly predictable and one dimensional.

On the break we had some great chances. We'd hit the ball down the channels for Grabban, Ritchie or Pugh to get onto, twist a bit and lay the ball off to Arter, and then play Grabban or Pugh in. Balls were then flashed across the face, and twice we were inches from a third. Fraser came on and missed a good chance with his head as the goal gaped.

It wasn't to be all comfortablebof course, Le Fondre got his usual goal against us, right on the stroke of 90 mins. Drenthe had a shot (ex real Madrid no less) and it was blocked falling to the goal poacher Le Fondre who finished, giving us a tense last few minutes.

However this time, there was to be no late heart break for Bournemouth at Reading, we stood firm and clinched all 3 points.

Camp 8 claimed everything with authority.

Francis 7 did his job, what you expect from him
Elphick 9.5, faultless and superb
Cook 8, tidied up, brought the ball forward, his usual good self.
Daniels 8, assist and a good solid job

Ritchie 9, non stop runs to support Grabban, always kept the ball, scored the crucial second.
Okane 7, buzzed around, tidy touches, supported well
Arter 8, non stop runs again, always offering support, was a pain in the arse for Reading.
Surman 8, best game by a million miles this season.
Pugh 9, One of those days where every twist, turn and flick came off, was superb a calmly keeping possession second half.

Grabban 9, did the lone man job well, ran all day, got his goal, led the line.

Fraser and Pitman had decent cameos.

All in all, a defensive masterclass from front to back. If our centre backs and central midfield do that every week then we'll be laughing. The trick is, do we keep one up front at home? Supporters will expect more than just soaking pressure and breaking.

More of the same please Mr Elphick.

Report by northstandmark

Star Player

Tommy Elphick

Peter_Humphrey wrote...

Amazing away performance, the perfect one you could say. Apart from the twenty minutes at start of match, we were well on top. The team as a whole was magnificent, but need to pick out some real stars.

Grabban, O'Kane, Surman and Cook/Elphick. Great games from them all. Don't get me wrong, the rest were ace, but these were the standouts. Surman looks the type of player we hoped he'd be, now he's fit and got minutes under his belt, he'll kick on. Cook/Elphick, as usual, very good, Grabban led the line brilliantly and never let their defence rest. O'kane was immense in the middle of the park. Worked his socks off and burst forward in support whenever needed. The improvement in him from the little lad that looked out of his depth just a month ago is stunning, even Tuesday night he did alrght.

The most pleasing thing was how calm we were, but we pressed and played with tempo. Hardly any silly passes given away, everything had a point and we mixed it up well when we absolutely needed to. We were battering them for a good ten/fifteen minutes in that second half.

Terrific, terrific day out and a performance to match. Best of the season and spot on from EH, despite me having my reservations in the first 15 minutes when we were better dominated.

First of many wins to come. UTC!

yesyescherry said...

as much as the first 15/20 mins were all reading, with mccleary causing daniels problems down their right, from all the half a dozen or so corners they won it was only the sharp header that actually came to anything and they didn't really threaten our goal despite their posession and territorial advantage

i always thought as long as we could weather that initial storm we'd grow into the game if we could get more control of the midfield, which we did for the 10 minutes before the first goal - then the two goals in qucik succession seemed to knock the stuffing out of reading and it looked like they didn't know what'd hit them

2nd half the way we were set up was absolutely spot on (helped by being 2 up) the players showed amazing discipline, bossed the game at times and it would have been a travesty if we hadn't won - we were comfortable, composed, fought like animals to win the ball back and our posession was neat and skillfull, there was wave after wave of breaks forward and an impressive number of attempts at goal at the end of them

it looked like as soon as we'd got those quick goals all the confidence started to flood back into the players and they played with more belief, were calm on the ball and more accurate in posession - everyone knew their jobs and it was a real team effort

standouts for me were grabban who worked his nuts off, led the line brilliantly, held the ball up well and pulled their defence all over the place, surman who barely misplaced a pass all afternoon, broke forward in support of grabban and the wide men time and again and made the game look easy, elphick who improved massively possibly safe in the knowledge he's got an extended run in the side, his confidence obviously returning and arter who tracked back, got stuck in (although he nearly talked himself into the book first half) but who also cut all the wastefullness out of his game and kept the ball pretty much immaculately - pugh looked sharp and daniels got better as the game wore on after a tricky first 20 minutes, and ritchie's close control looks like he's got the ball on a string

there was real fluidity to some of our play with arter closing down their defenders up top and grabban dropping into midfield to cover, ritchie popping up centrally, pugh being put through on the right, surman and o'kane covering every blade of grass

a huge 3 points

alwaysacherry added...

Absolutely delighted with this result. In my opinion it comes on the back of a number of very competent away performances e.g Boro, Forest, Leicester and Burnley and as such is not a major surprise (altho I confess the general negativity around the forums must have got to me as I predicted a defeat!).

It will be very interesting to see how the team is set up next week when we are the home team. Back to 4 4 2 I assume? And if so who comes in and who misses out?

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The Journalist

Writer: DJ Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Saturday December 7 2013

Time: 9:45PM

Your Comments

Well played, you deserved the victory.
. . . A GREAT all round team performance today, . . . Lets hope for more of the same next Saturday.
Delightful result. Enjoyed the game. It was all of the above. So very pleased for the away win. We genuinely surprised he opposition. We deserved this on work rate and the well taken goals. We need more like tis. I felt the penny has dropped finally that the boys have to dig deep and all give the same each and every game. Are we on the up? Who knows but it's great just to be there. Thank you too to Y19-Royal for the kind words. We must be u for the Birmingham game now. Bring it on! We look forward to coming to your ground again next season!
St Albans cherry
Agree entirely with Peter_Humphrey-an almost perfect away performance-my mate is a Reading fan and he thought that if we sat back on our lead in the 2nd half Reading would bring themselves level-I think that's what pleased me most as we grew more and more in confidence and looked the more likely to score-probably the best game I've seen from O'Kane, Grabban (ran himself into the ground-utterly selfless) and Surman-Pugh and Elphick back to their best and, at last, a proper goalkeeper-perhaps the only area I differ is I thought the game past Arter by a little and his real determination was to try and get himself booked with his usual ref baiting-fortunately unsuccessful-a minor quibble though-outstanding performance (and I thought le Fondre was offside when he scored!)

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