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16:54 11th September 2010

Report: Irish duo shine in victory

Reading 3 (Long 37 (pen), Harte 65 (pen), Kebe 90)
Crystal Palace 0

The Royals took all three points after a very positive performance against Crystal Palace at Madejski Stadium.

Shane Long was instrumental in our first two goals, winning a penalty in each half with pace and quality; stroking home the first spot kick himself.

Debutant Ian Harte put in a superb display at left back, and he took responsibility for the second spot kick, slamming home an unstoppable strike right into the corner.

As the game drew on we could have scored one or two more, and Jimmy Kebe rounded off proceedings with a nice finish.

Matt Mills had also hit the bar in the first half, and there were a number of good individual performances; Long and Harte, not just for their goals, while Jem Karacan was excellent in the centre of the park.

Adam Federici made a very good save at 1-0, McAnuff and Kebe looked lively on the wings, while Shaun Cummings grew as the game went on - in fairness everyone played their part in picking up our first home League win of the 2010/11 npower Championship campaign.

Palace, and in particular James Vaughan, posed a decent threat in the first half, but we took control of the game in the second period and a good crowd of 17,291 saw us see the game out comfortably.

Reading (4-2-3-1): Federici; Cummings, Harte, Mills (c), Pearce; Gunnarsson, Karacan; Kebe, McAnuff, Howard; Long (Church 89)
Subs: McCarthy, Williams, Khizanishvili, Antonio, Robson-Kanu, Hunt
Booked: Mills (foul 10), Howard (foul 89)

Palace (4-4-2): Speroni; Clyne, Gardner, Bennett, McCarthy (c); Danns, Garvan, Dorman (Counago HT), Djalili; Marrow (Cadogan 66), Vaughan (Andrew 80)
Subs: Price, Davis, Barrett, Holness
Booked: Vaughan (foul 15), McCarthy (foul 38), Bennett (foul 65), Clyne (foul 78)

Attendance: 17,291 (2,835 away)

Starting XI team news
Reading handed a debut to Ian Harte, while Brynjar Gunnarsson started in midfield and Brian Howard lined up just behind Shane Long. Shaun Cummings switched to right back after his good display at Leicester, and new signing Zurab Khizanishvili was named on the bench. Goalkeeper Alex McCarthy was also one of our subs, taking over from Ben Hamer who is now out on loan. Our official teamsheet is here.

First half
Palace had a good chance early on, and visiting skipper Paddy McCarthy will think he should have done better than to sky over left footed from close range after a right wing corner.

Matt Mills and opposition striker James Vaughan were enjoyed a running battle, and both were booked in the space of five minutes. The visitors had the majority of possession early on, but couldn't turn that into chances.

Ex-Eagle Jobi McAnuff was keen to impress against his former employers, and had a half chance midway through the period but didn't connect cleanly on his left foot. Vaughan then tried his luck on the stretch, but was some way off target.

Reading then began to up the ante, and Mills was desperately close to an opener, seeing a header hit the bar and agonisingly come back out. The ball eventually fell to Brian Howard on the corner of the area, and he caught it well but it was always rising.

Three minutes later Brian McDermott's team did take the lead, and it was a goal created and converted by Shane Long. He showed great pace to take on McCarthy out wide, and darted into the area. As the Palace defender tried to get back, he was all over Long's back and a spot kick was awarded. Long took the spot kick himself, and sent Julian Speroni the wrong way for his first goal of the campaign.

Jem Karacan was then inches away from doubling the advantage with a superb 25-yard effort that flew desperately close and left Speroni stranded.

Adam Federici came into the game on the back of an excellent performance and penalty save for Australia in midweek, and pulled off a very good stop on 40 minutes to keep out Andy Dorman's effort.

Jimmy Kebe was close to scoring as we entered injury time, arrowing an effort past the near post after showing good skill.

Second half
Palace brought on Pablo Counago at the interval, and he nearly profited from a great piece of skill from Vaughan five minutes into the half but the drilled low cross evaded all in the middle. Down the other end, Long did well to cut inside a couple of challenges but shot wide at the near post

Shaun Cummings did brilliantly to stop a very dangerous Palace break, showing great pace and strength to get in front of Neil Danns and roll safely back to Federici; excellent defending from the former Chelsea man, who was growing in confidence and also benefitting from excellent support from the home crowd.

Howard vehemently claimed a penalty 12 minutes into the period, telling the referee his drilled cross hit the arm of a visiting defender but nothing was given.

Just past the hour mark McAnuff went on another good run into the area, and forced Speroni into a low save as the Royals pushed for a second.

And within minutes we had a second goal, and again it came from the penalty spot. Karacan, impressive throughout, did very well to break up play and carry possession forward. He played in Long, and Julian Bennett went to ground inside the area, referee Keith Hill awarding a penalty and booking the defender. This time it was Ian Harte who stepped up, and he struck a fantastic spot kick right into the bottom corner. The Irish international had played superbly on his debut and it was no surprise when he fired home with such quality.

Fellow full back Cummings was then close to a first Reading goal after getting forward into the Palace area, almost capitalising on a defensive slip but seeing Speroni make a save to his right.

Reading were really trying to turn the screw, and Kebe's header from Karacan's cross forced Speroni into another stop. Soon afterwards Brynjar Gunnarsson shot well over from a decent position inside the box.

Brian McDermott's side continued to dominate as the game ebbed towards full time, and we were very comfortable as time ticked on.

With three minutes left Howard should have had his first Madejski Stadium goal in a Reading shirt, Kebe picking him out very well, only for our number 20 to shoot wide from 12 yards with the whole goal to aim at. He tried to place it in the corner but just misplaced it past the upright.

Karacan was clearly desperate to score, and showed superb technique inside the area on 88 minutes, whistling a rasping effort just wide.

Long was then withdrawn to a huge ovation, fully deserved after an excellent display of pace, power and quality.

There was still time for Kebe to grab a third, shooting home with aplomb after yet another break. Palace looked crushed.

The second half had seen the visitors fall to pieces under Reading pressure, and it was ultimately a comfortable win.

After a two-week break in which a lot has taken place, it was also an important victory for the club and we made good strides up the League table at this early stage of the season. We got into two tough away games with a spring in our step and a renewed positivity after a second win on the spin.

    Data provided by Press Association