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16:57 14th August 2010

Kebe earns fully deserved point

Portsmouth 1 (Ciftci 8)
Reading 1 (Kebe 86)

A late goal from the inspirational Jimmy Kebe earned Reading a point at Portsmouth; and it was the least we deserved after a very good performance.

Pompey took the lead with a fortunate strike, Nadir Ciftci's cross deflected in off a Reading leg in the early stages of the first half.

Both teams had chances, but it was Reading who were the dominant side, especially in the second half when we were absolutely camped in the opposition half and hit the post through a brilliant Gylfi Sigurdsson free kick.

In the end we had to settle for a point, which gets us up and running in this npower Championship season.

We were backed by 2,000 supporters at Fratton Park, and they saw a performance full of spirit and endeavour. With one more break in front of goal, they would also have seen us take all three points.

Reading (4-2-3-1): Federici; Griffin (Rasiak 83), Williams, Gunnarsson, Pearce; Karacan (Antonio 68), Howard; McAnuff, Kebe, Sigurdsson; Church (Hunt 70)
Subs: Hamer, Davies, Taylor, Robson-Kanu

Portsmouth (4-4-2): Ashdown; Mullins, Dickinson, Sonko, Wilson (c); Brown, Hughes, Ciftci, Ritchie; Nugent, Utaka (Ward 22)
Subs: O'Brien, Gregory, Pack

Attendance: 16,497

Team news
Reading made two changes from the team that began the League season against Scunthorpe, Matt Mills and Shane Long out injured. Brian Howard and Simon Church came in, with Brynjar Gunnarsson moving to centre back. Jay Tabb was also out injured so could not be named on the bench. Andy Griffin was named captain on his return to Fratton Park. Pompey included former Royals Ibrahima Sonko and Jamie Ashdown in their team, but only named four subs.

First half
In their new black strip, Reading had the first sight of goal, Gylfi Sigurdsson releasing Jobi McAnuff down the left, the winger cutting inside onto his right foot and thereby turning into traffic, Pompey allowed to crowd him out.

With eight minutes on the clock Reading were caught out, and for the second League game in succession a fortunate deflection gave the opposition the lead. Pompey worked a quick corner to Nadir Ciftci, and the wideman put in a low cross that was nowhere near the goal, but came off a Reading leg and gave Adam Federici no chance.

We won a corner in search of a quick equaliser, but Pompey cleared and had a three-on-one break. Thankfully John Utaka's pass was a bit behind Matt Ritchie, and although he got a shot away it was wide of the upright.

Utaka was soon withdrawn through injury, then Jimmy Kebe went on a cracking run down the right but was just crowded out in the area. Moments later the Malian did well out wide, and Brian Howard seemed to miss his header before McAnuff miscued the loose ball well off target.

Reading were pushing, and Kebe was the best player on the pitch - if he just been able to pick the right pass during a 30th minute break we would have been in.

A minute later we had loud appeals for a penalty when Kebe's cross hit Marc Wilson on the arm, but referee Russell was having none of it. In fairness, it was fired at him from a close distance but we've all seen them given.

A miskick from Brynjar Gunnarsson gave David Nugent a clear sight of goal, but thankfully the former England man badly miscued and a real chance went begging; a let off for the Royals as Pompey searched for a second.

It was an even contest, and Howard forced Jamie Ashdown into a decent low save after shooting from 18 yards.

Kebe was giving Pompey newboy Carl Dickinson a torrid time, and we were playing some good stuff in search of an equaliser; Gylfi Sigurdsson firing over from 25 yards as half time approached. McAnuff then tried to slip Simon Church in after a nice team move but his pass was overhit by a matter of inches and the Welshman wasn't able to gather.

Right on half time we had probably our best chance of the opening 45 minutes, Kebe profiting from a loose touch at the back, but he just held onto it too long and allowed Ibrahima Sonko to get a foot in.

There was still time for Pompey to go close again, Gunnarsson robbed of possession in a very dangerous area by Nugent, but the striker's pass infield to an onrushing teammate was thankfully inaccurate - otherwise it would surely have been 2-0.

Second half
Within moments of the restart, Sigurdsson was inches away from an equaliser. He curled a brilliant 30-yard free kick against the post, and it agonisingly bounced out to a Pompey player. Six inches to the right and it would have been a sensational goal from the quite brilliant Icelander.

We were by far the better side, and McAnuff had a cracking chance from a deep Kebe cross, but miscued as it bounced just in front of him ten yards out.

Despite our dominance in possession, we had to be wary of a Pompey breakaway, and Nugent should have done better on the hour but shot wide left footed when in on goal.

Kebe was the game's best player by a mile, and sub Michail Antonio should have scored with a header from his sumptuous cross; a golden chance gone begging. Noel Hunt was also thrown on for his first League appearance since 2009 as we threw caution to the wind.

FInally, with just moments left, we got the equaliser we fully, fully deserved. Sigurdsson's corner led to an almighty scramble, and Kebe came away celebrating after prodding home from the edge of the six yard box.

Ashdown had to make a very good save from Howard late on, and Federici was also called into action but neither team could find a way through for a winning goal.

So it ended 1-1, and our players and staff went right over to the 2,000 travelling fans to thank them for their support - and graciously Ibrahima Sonko did the same and received a loud ovation from our fans.

    Data provided by Press Association