Match Report - Reading 2:1 Sheffield United
By Mark Sugar
October 1 2005
2 goals from Brynjar Gunnarsson were enough to see Reading get the points against Sheffield United in this hugely controversial game at the Madejski Stadium which saw decisions go both for and against the Royals and saw the usual moaning antics of Neil Warnock,who now faces an FA charge.
Coca Cola Championship
Saturday 1st October 2005,
Madejski Stadium, 15:00pm Kick-Off
Reading - Hahnemann, Makin, Hunt , Sonko, Ingimarsson, Little (Oster 45), Convey (Baradji 67), Harper, Gunnarsson, Lita (Obinha 78), Doyle
Subs not used; Federici (GK), Osano
Sheffield United - Kenny, Bromby, Morgan, Unsworth, Kozluk, Ifill (Gillespie 67), Jagielka, Montgomery, Quinn (Webber 90), Kabba, Shipperley (Pericard 90)
Subs not used; Tonge, Geary
Reading secured a thrilling dramatic last minute victory against Sheffield United in what was a controversial game from start to finish in front of a watching crowd of 22,068 which included the FA Chief Executive Brian Barwick, Republic of Ireland Manager Brian Kerr, Wolverhampton Wanderers Manager Glenn Hoddle and Hull and England U21's Manager Peter Taylor.
As expected, Steve Coppell made 1 change from Wednesday night's 0:0 draw with Southampton. Captain Graeme Murty hadn't fully recovered from a hamstring injury which meant a slight shuffle in formation, with Chris Makin going to right back with Stephen Hunt switching to left back.
Sheffield United kept with the same eleven that beat Plymouth Argyle 2:0 on Tuesday night.
Within the first 90 seconds of the game, Reading were on there 2nd corner of the game when a low Glen Little cross fell perfectly to Brynjar Gunnarsson who's side footed effort went into the net, possibly with a slight deflection.
Reading were dominant within the first couple of minutes, but the men from Brammell Lane slowly got there way back into the match. with 3 consecutive corners which came to nothing.
The Royals then went of a good counter attacking move when a lovely pass from Chris Makin fell onto the feet of Leroy Lita, who's shot went just wide of Paddy Kenny's goal.
10 minutes into the game, and the match's first controversial talking point came when Neil Warnock received a warning from referee Mr Hegley after having strong words with his assistant and the 4th official. Warnock was ordered to the away dugout.
5 minutes later, the scores were deservedly level Sheffield United made there pressure count when a Paul Ifill cross from inside the penalty area was headed in by Steve Kabba from 6 yards out.
Moments later, Kabba came close again when a Reading free kick came to nothing with the Blades on the counter attack and Kabba fired just over.
The game went quiet, with both sides playing neat football in front of an atmospheric crowd.
But on 33 minutes, referee Hegley got a big decision very badly wrong. A Nick Montgomery header was heading goal bound when United goalie Paddy Kenny handled outside his area. A red card seemed certain with the ball going goal bound yet Hegley gave out only a yellow, which was even more controversial as the Blades didn't have a substitute goalkeeper on the bench, similar to the incident witnessed earlier this season with Millwall and Andy Marhshall.
A direct free kick followed, with Bobby Convey's effort hitting the United wall but the game continued to a chorus of boos from the Reading fans aimed at Kenny and Hegley.
Moments later, Warnock got exchanged in another heated argument on the touchline, this time with Reading's American winger Bobby Convey. Warnock was lucky to avoid the red card shown by the referee Hegley.
The game ended 1:1 at half time, with both supporters feeling the result was probably fair but with referee Hegley letting Warnock and Kenny off.
Half Time : Reading 1-1 Sheffield United
Steve Coppell made 1 change at half time, with Glen Little coming off for John Oster on the right wing.
10 minutes later, the Blades should have been 2:1 up when a Steve Kabba cross fell nicely to Alan Quinn, who could head only just over.
On 67 minutes, Steve Coppell made a brave decision when taking off Bobby Convey for Sekou Baradji and the Frenchman's first contribution was to clear a Kabba shot off the line.
10 minutes later, Coppell made his 3rd and final change when Leroy Lita was replaced again by Eric Obinha, with the Royals boss looking to adopt a 3-4-3 formation.
Moments later, referee made a big mistake when he didn't award Sheffield United substitute Keith Gillespie a 2nd half penalty after a mazy run which left him upended from a James Harper tackle. Blades boss Warnock done his nut again, with the 4th official at the end of his anger.
With the game evenly matched over the course of 85 minutes, Reading upped the tempo and victory was getting a possibility.
Just a minute before injury time Alan Quinn handled just outside the area, and a perfectly delivered Sekou Baradji free kick fell to the head of Brynjar Gunnarsson who's floating header went into the corner of the Blades net in front of the travelling 3,000 contingent from Yorkshire.
The match finished 2:1, and the cheer's from the Madejski Stadium were loud but Warnock and Gillespie had the final say in the game when they both confronted Hegley, and it was later confirmed by Hegley himself that both will be reported to the FA.
Full Time : Reading 2-1 Sheffield United
Man Of The Match - Brynjar Gunnarsson
THE MANAGER SAID
Steve Coppell, Reading Manager
On the 2:1 win;
"Given the circumstances and the way the game unravelled, it was a really good feeling.
"It came at a time when we looked a little bit flat and had ran out of steam. It's been a hard, big week, and even little things like having played on Wednesday rather than Tuesday does make a subtle difference when you're looking for those energy reserves."
On Paddy Kenny's handball outside the area;
"The game was distorted after that decision. Everybody in the stadium, even a lot of Sheffield United fans, would have thought it was automatic that he'd been sent off. The game would have been very different from there.
"The ref seemed reluctant to blow his whistle in the first place, he was looking across at his linesman, and I just think he got it wrong.
"We were conscious at half time of not complaining and moaning about it. We had to erase it from our minds and just try to attack the second half.
"But in reality, we just seemed to be running out of legs, there was no freshness about us and I tried to get that freshness from the bench. We showed character hanging on when they were coming at us, and in the last ten minutes we seemed to get a flurry from somewhere.
"At one stage we were almost settling for a point, but then almost from nowhere Oster, Sekou and Eric seemed to give us something. The atmosphere changed, we got the free-kick, it was a great delivery from Sekou and Bryn, who's not looked likely on set-pieces, gets his double!
"We've had goals from a lot of positions now. Last year the charge against us was that if you stop Kitson, you stop Reading. Now I hope we've got a bit more firepower from different angles. Bryn ghosted in very nicely for both goals.
The Royals are back at home 2 weeks tomorrow when Ipswich Town make the journey to the Madejski Stadium. The match sees the return of Nicky Forster.