Game #5005

Season | 2007-08 |

Matchday | #30 |
League Game | #27 |
Premier League Match-week | #27 |  
Manager Game | #72 |
Sunday, 24 February 2008
Premier League | Away | Reading | Madejski Stadium | 23,889 | 

Game Summary

Manager | Martin O’Neill |

KO | 12.30 |
Referee | Martin Atkinson | 

HT Score | 1-0 |
FT Score | 2-1 |

FT Result | Won |

Last 5 Games | DDLWW | 

Scorers | Ashley Young | 45’ | Marlon Harewood | 84’ | 

Assists | Gabby Agbonlahor | 45’ | Ashley Young | 84’ |

League Position | 6th | - |

Line Up |

GK Scott Carson |
RB Wilfred Bouma |
CB Martin Laursen |
CB Curtis Davies |
M Gareth Barry |
M Craig Gardner |
BOOKED | 52' |
M Shaun Maloney | SUB OFF | 73' |
M Nigel Reo-Coker | SUB OFF | 86' |
W Ashley Young | GOAL | 45' | ASSIST | 84' |
CF John Carew |
F Gabby Agbonlahor |
ASSIST | 45' |

Substitutes |

CF Marlon Harewood GOAL | 84' | for M Shaun Maloney | 73’ | 
M Isaiah Osbourne for M Nigel Reo-Coker | 86’ |

Unused Substitutes |

GK Stuart Taylor
CB Zat Knight
M Moustapha Salifou

Cards |

 Yellow | Craig Gardner | 52’ |

Team Stats |

Starting XI Average Age | 25.08 | 

Oldest Player | CB Martin Laursen | 31.01 |

Youngest Player | M Craig Gardner | 21.26 |

Match Report

Sky Sports

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Yet more misery for Royals


Reading slumped to an eighth consecutive Premier League defeat as they went down 2-1 at home to Aston Villa. 

Ashley Young and Marlon Harewood were the heroes for Villa, while Nicky Shorey’s late free-kick proved to be nothing more than a consolation for the Royals.

Both sides created few clear-cut opportunities during the opening half an hour, as defences strained under opposition pressure without actually cracking.

However on 32 minutes a scuffed shot from the edge of the box by Craig Gardner struck the arm of Kalifa Cisse as he looked to close the effort down and referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot.

Villa skipper Gareth Barry then took the responsibility of trying to put his side ahead, but only succeeded in slicing his penalty woefully wide of Marcus Hahnemann’s goal.

On the stroke of half-time Villa did take the lead though when Cisse misjudged a ball down the line and Gabriel Agbonlahor was able to square a pass to Young who made no mistake from 10 yards out.

Reading had their chances to equalise at the start of the second period, but Stephen Hunt and Dave Kitson both found their route to goal blocked by heroic defending.

With Villa then starting to dominate on the counter, Harewood made the points safe six minutes from time.

Young led the breakaway before presenting an opportunity to Harewood to curl a stunning effort into the top corner past a helpless Hahnemann.

Deep into injury-time Shorey pulled one back for Reading when his 25-yard free-kick was pushed into his own goal, via the post, by a disappointed Scott Carson.


Reading chairman John Madejski had called for the fans to turn the stadium into a “cauldron of optimism” before the game, but although James Harper planted a shot into Scott Carson’s midriff within 30 seconds, it quickly became apparent Villa would simply not allow any release from the paralysis that has gripped the home side’s season.

Young’s fourth goal of the campaign may have taken 45 minutes to arrive but when it did, it was merely the inevitable result of his side’s superiority and the home players’ lack of confidence.

Reading’s centre-back pairing of Ibrahima Sonko and Kalifa Cisse could not have complained had they both been replaced at half-time, so nervous and error-ridden was their play.

Cisse’s early errors allowed John Carew two sights of goal but the Norwegian’s forte is heading the ball not kicking it and Marcus Hahnemann in the home goal was not unduly worried.

Nor was he required to make a save when Cisse was harshly adjudged to have used a hand in blocking Craig Gardner’s shot in the 32nd minute as Gareth Barry, having previously dispatched four previous penalties this term, lazily sliced his spot-kick wide.

But when Cisse sold himself on the right touchline to allow the fit-again Gabriel Agbonlahor to race away, it was inevitable that Martin O’Neill’s side would finally gain the advantage they deserved.

Agbonlahor squared the ball to Young, who had all the time and space in the box to make sure his shot was high enough to beat Hahnemann and Graeme Murty, the man on the line.

Reading had chased every ball and contested every tackle but, that early Harper shot apart, had looked every inch a side that had lost their way alarmingly in recent weeks and have still to pick up a point in 2008.

Sonko had been cautioned for a foul on Carew just before the goal and Gardner and Marek Matejovsky, the Reading midfielder, picked up bookings early in the second period as the home side sought a way back into the game.

Royals boss Steve Coppell made his first change before the hour mark, the ineffective John Oster removed from the right wing to give January signing Jimmy Kebe his home debut.

The new man was immediately involved by beginning a move that saw Shorey’s drive spilled by Carson. Stephen Hunt was first to the loose ball but his effort was blocked by Curtis Davies.

Dave Kitson’s pass allowed Hunt to nip in between Gardner and Carson in the box but the Irishman lost his footing at the vital moment but there was a let-off for Reading within seconds at the other end when Carew set up Agbonlahor in front of goal only for the forward to fire over.


Carson was required to preserve his side’s lead in the 70th minute when Shorey’s free-kick was flicked goal-wards by the ginger head of Kitson, whose next effort from 25 yards out was less accurate.

The hapless Cisse was replaced by Ivar Ingimarsson for the final 19 minutes and Villa sent Harewood on for Shaun Maloney.


Harewood trundled a shot at Hahnemann but Villa counter-attacks were becoming incessant and the American was required to block a Carew effort after Sonko had once again been easily bypassed.

Hahnemann had to beat out a much fiercer Harewood drive as Reading fought against the tide but the troublesome newcomer’s next effort was so wide it went for a throw-in.

The former West Ham man was not to be denied however and he wrapped the game up for the visitors with a fine finish in the 83rd minute after a rampage upfield from Young had left Reading totally exposed.

Kitson and then Hunt saw good efforts blocked before Shorey’s free-kick in stoppage-time at last beat Carson.
The final whistle was just seconds away however and there was no time for any attempt for an undeserved equaliser.