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16:53 28th December 2009

Report: Royals are well beaten

Plymouth 4 (Judge 13 (pen), 63, Arnason 59, Barnes 84)
Reading 1 (Sigurdsson 62)

A very disappointing performance saw Reading beaten 4-1 by Plymouth on a quagmire of a pitch at Home Park.

The Royals never settled on a very poor playing surface, and Argyle won every individual battle in a real scrap of a game.

Alan Judge scored a first half penalty to give Argyle the lead, and Kari Arnason doubled the advantage on the hour mark when he found space to head home from a corner.

Gylfi Sigurdsson responded straight away from Jobi McAnuff's cross, but another quick goal from Judge, yet again a header, proved to be the key moment.

Sub Ashley Barnes gave the scoreline a glossy finish for the home side late on, and it was a very disappointing result for the 956 fans who made the journey to the south west. We did not play well, and simply could not get to grips with a very poor surface. Brian McDermott offered no excuses - and simply said afterwards 'that cannot happen again.'

Plymouth (4-4-2): Larrieu; Duguid, Sawyer, Arnason, Johnson; Fletcher (c), Summerfield (Folly 80), Clark, Judge (Noone 66); Fallon (Barnes 69), Mackie
Subs: Letheren, Blake, Barker, Gow
Booked: Johnson (foul 38), Mackie (foul 40)

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Gunnarsson, Bertrand, Ingimarsson (c), Pearce; Cisse, Matejovsky (Kebe HT), McAnuff, Sigurdsson; Long (Rasiak 60), Church
Subs: Hamer, Mills, Karacan, Howard, Robson-Kanu
Yellow: McAnuff (foul 65)

Attendance: 12,091 (936 away fans)

First half
Brian McDermott made one change to his starting XI, Simon Church back from his one-match suspension and selected ahead of Grzegorz Rasiak.

From the very first whistle it was obvious that the pitch would be a factor in the game, and in truth it looked a very poor surface that forced both teams to battle and scrap for possession rather than try to get it down and play.

Plymouth were clearly more accustomed to the conditions, and tok the lead on 13 minutes when Jamie Mackie was clearly fouled by Ivar Ingimarsson inside the area, midfielder Alan Judge slamming home the resulting penalty.

It continued to be a scrap of a game, and we had a half decent penalty shout on 21 minutes when the ball seemed to strike a Plymouth arm in the area but nothing was given.

Mackie, scorer of a superb goal against us here last season, was looking lively and probably should have done better than to head just wide on the 24 minute mark.

Moments later Simon Church almost broke through, only to be denied by what looked to be a tight offside decision. Then Argyle fell foul of a linesman's decision, Rory Fallon flagged offside, only to see Adam Federici spectacularly save his header anyway.

Reading never really looked settled, and Ingimarsson almost found his own net but his clearance went about a foot or so wide of the post.

Mackie was Argyle's main man, and we needed a cracking challenge from Ryan Bertrand to prevent him getting a clear shot at goal some eight yards out.

Just before the break Jobi McAnuff defied the pitch to go on an excellent run from deep, and forced Romain Larrieu into a low save at the second attempt.

In addition Shane Long was clearly impeded by a defender's arm inside the Argyle area, but it was the type of incident that for reasons unknown rarely prompts referees to act.

Second half
Brian McDermott made a change at half time, bringing Jimmy Kebe on for Marek Matejovsky and moving Gylfi Sigurdsson into a more central role.

It continued to be the scrappiest of games, and the first real chance of the half fell to Chris Clark, who hit the outside of the post after being found in plenty of space by Fallon.

Argyle doubled their advantage right on the hour mark, Kari Arnason finding himself in space inside the box and completing the simple task of heading past Federici from the middle of the goal eight yards out.

We responded immediately by bringing on Rasiak for Long, and it paid dividends within seconds. Rasiak saw a shot blocked on the line, but McAnuff won it back and crossed for Sigurdsson, who headed home from six yards out.

The impetus was back with us - but within a minute Argyle had reasserted their dominance. Clark got into space down the left, crossing for Judge to power home yet another headed goal and with it our comeback was swiftly ended.

Argyle then looked comfortable, and a long-range Fallon volley was well saved by Federici before Mackie had a good penalty appeal turned down under two challenges.

Sigurdsson's 70th minute free kick forced Larrieu into a decent low save at his near post, but we were on the back foot for the remainder of proceedings.

Sub Ashley Barnes prodded home a late fourth, and although 4-1 was a touch harsh, nobody could argue that Plymouth deserved the points.

    Data provided by Press Association