5pm, Saturday 19th August 2006

Leroy Lita

Reading 3 (Kitson 43, Sidwell 44, Lita 56)
Middlesbrough 2 (Downing 11, Yakubu 21)

Reading (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Murty (c), Shorey, Sonko, Ingimarsson; Harper, Sidwell, Seol (Gunnarsson 83), Convey (Hunt 83); Doyle, Kitson (Lita HT)
Subs: Stack, Oster
Booked: Sidwell

Middlesbrough (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Parnaby, Arca (Davies HT), Pogatetz, Riggott; Boateng (c), (Mendieta 67) Morrison (Johnson 83), Downing; Viduka, Yakubu
Subs: Turnbull, Maccarone
Booked: Riggott, Rochemback

Att: 23,855

Ref: Mark Halsey (Lancashire)


Reading incredibly came back from two goals down to beat Middlesbrough 3-2 in their first game in the Premiership this afternoon.

Stewart Downing and Yakubu had given the visitors a 2-0 lead midway through the first half, but Dave Kitson and Steve Sidwell brought Reading level just before the break.

Kitson was forced off injured at half time following a sturdy challenge by Chris Riggott, and his replacement Leroy Lita turned home from close range ten minutes after the break.

Boro pushed for an equaliser, and Mark Viduka had a goal controversially disallowed for offside when replays suggested he was level.

In the end Steve Coppell's men held on for a memorable victory and only Kitson's injury took any shine off an unforgettable day.

Full report
Kevin Doyle was the first Reading player to touch the ball in the Premiership, kicking off to Dave Kitson. It was Middlesbrough though who had the first attack when George Boateng shot over inside 60 seconds.

With three minutes gone, Doyle won a free kick on the left-hand side, and Seol Ki-Hyeon whipped in a cross-shot that Mark Schwarzer had to scramble to tip over.

Boro were enjoying the majority of possession, and only a couple of good tackles prevented them from getting a shot in on goal.

Bobby Convey gave Reading a bit of respite, cutting in well from the left before hitting a right-footed shot that was straight at the keeper.

With 11 minutes gone Boro had a goal that in truth looked on the cards. George Boateng broke from midfield unchallenged, and fed Yakubu on the right wing. He turned inside, and put in an excellent left-footed ball to the back post.

Stewart Downing still had a lot to do, but he side-footed an excellent volley into the far corner that narrowly evaded Marcus Hahnemann as he moved across goal.

On 18 minutes Dave Kitson broke down the left before turning the ball back to Convey. His low cross was deflected to Steve Sidwell, who fired well over the bar from 18 yards when he perhaps had time to take a touch.

Three minutes later though Boro had another. James Harper was adjudged to have fouled striker Yakubu on the edge of the box, and Fabio Rochemback fired the free kick straight at Hahnemann. The American crouched to stop the pacy strike, but he couldn't gather it and Yakubu tapped home from three yards.

Seol then again tried his luck from a wide free kick but was off target when trying to catch Schwarzer out at the near post.

On the half hour Reading came close to getting a goal. Harper released Nicky Shorey, who ran well into Boro territory. He in turn fed Doyle, and the Irishman's shot was parried by Schwarzer. Kitson was desperately close to the rebound, but Chris Riggott scrambled clear.

Again Kitson came close a few minutes later, but he could only head straight at Schwarzer when presented with a good chance from Shorey's free kick.

Reading were pushing, and Sidwell shot straight at the keeper from 18 yards with Kitson making a run outside him.

After a disappointing start the Royals were now finding their feet. Shorey almost scored but his free kick from 18 yards was turned wide by a diving Schwarzer.

Three minutes before the break Reading had a goal that their play had fully deserved. Seol showed very good skill wide on the right, and danced passed Julio Arca.

He drilled a low cross to the edge of the six yard box, where Kitson was lurking. The cross was deflected and initially bounced off the frontman's knee, but he followed up well to slide it in just before the keeper got there.

Incredibly, Reading were level just a minute later. Ivar Ingimarsson popped up on the left wing, and did well to turn the ball into the area.

Sidwell burst onto it, and planted a left-footed finish excellently into the far corner from eight yards, giving the keeper no chance. He celebrated with the Royals fans but was booked for his troubles.

In injury time Reading nearly had another, when Graeme Murty shot from 25 yards and Doyle was inches away from turning it in.

With added time almost up, Kitson was brought down in the centre circle, with Riggott's tackle looking very sturdy to say the least. The striker received lengthy treatment and hobbled to the touchline, with Reading given a free kick as Riggott was only booked.

Kits did not appear after the break, with Leroy Lita taking his place up front. Boro also made a change, with Arca off injured and Andrew Davies on.

Five minutes into the second half Ingimarsson had a sight of goal, but was adjudged to have pushed Davies while trying to nod home Sidwell's header.

After the excitement of the end of the first half, the second period had started a little quietly. The lull was not to last long though.

With ten minutes of the half played, Murty flicked inside neatly to Seol just wide of the box. He turned his man, and fired a good low cross along the six yard box.

An almighty scramble ensued as Doyle battled with Schwarzer, Riggott and Davies, and even though the Irishman was perhaps fouled he was able to steer the the ball to Lita.

The former Bristol City man was only five yards out, but still had a bit to do and lifted his finish into the net above the sliding Davies.

Madejski Stadium erupted with noise, and after the restart Reading were looking to consolidate their lead.

On the hour Rochemback was booked for a shoulder charge into Seol. The crowd were baying for a red but the challenge perhaps looked worse at a first glance than it really was.

Reading were the better team at this stage, and if Doyle's touch had been tighter he would have been in on goal. He was forced wide, and Boro scrambled clear Seol's subsequent cross.

As the game entered the final 15 minutes Boro seemed to be getting hold of the ball a little more than Reading liked. Downing shot from long range with his right foot but it failed to trouble Hahnemann.

The Royals were understandably sitting a little deep at times, and sub Gaizka Mendieta stung Hahnemann's palms from outside the area.

With a little more than ten minutes to go, Reading nearly gifted Boro a goal. Hahnemann and Ibrahima Sonko left the ball for each other, and Mark Viduka nipped in but the big American keeper saved well.

There was another let-off moments later, when Viduka had a goal controversially disallowed for offside. Video replays suggested the Australian was level as he tapped home Morrison's drilled cross from six yards.

As Boro pushed forward, Riggott had a header saved on the line by Hahnemann.

With injury time looming, Reading were enjoying possession and trying to hold the ball in the corners in an attempt to secure three points. Doyle was proving an excellent outlet, holding the ball up superbly.

Sidwell shot over from range as the fourth official held up the board to display three minutes of time remaining.

Doyle released sub Stephen Hunt deep into stoppage time, but he could not get a pass away with Lita screaming for it at the back post. Doyle then nearly added a fourth as he shot over from 25 yards.

In the end Boro could not get forward to get a sight of goal, and as the final whistle blew all Reading fans revelled in a fantastic day.

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