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22:00 28th September 2010

Report: Supersub Church wins it

Reading 1 (Church 88)
Ipswich 0

Simon Church came off the bench to score with his very first touch and earn Reading all three points after a pulsating game at Madejski Stadium.

Both teams ended the game with ten men; Town's Luke Hyam and Royals skipper Matt Mills seeing red in the space of seven second half minutes; each player dismissed for two bookable offences.

But Reading were the more forceful side in the closing stages, and responded better than Ipswich did to having a man sent off, showing more desire and quality in the final third and an unwavering will to take three points.

Church had only been on the pitch for perhaps 30 seconds when he diverted a shot from the brilliant Jem Karacan into the back of the net, prompting great celebrations.

It was a just reward for our desire to win the game, and credit must go to our players for once again refusing to give in. Their desire and quality has taken us up to sixth in the npower Championship table and we are beginning to build a little bit of momentum with almost a fifth of the season now gone.

Reading (4-2-3-1): Federici; Cummings, Harte, Mills (c), Pearce; Armstrong, Karacan; Kebe (Antonio 71), Robson-Kanu (Church 85), McAnuff; Long (Hunt 80)
Subs: McCarthy, Williams, Ingimarsson, Taylor
Booked: Cummings (foul 72)
Sent off: Mills (two yellows, fouls 41 & 59)

Ipswich (4-3-2-1): Fulop; Brown, Peters, McAuley, O'Dea; Norris (c), Leadbitter, Hyam; Edwards (Lambe 57), Townsend (Livermore 80); Scotland (Wickham 57)
Subs: Murphy, Smith, Kennedy, Priskin
Booked: Norris (foul 83)
Sent off: Hyam (two yellows, foul 35 & timewasting 52)

Attendance: 15,763 (1,543 away)

Referee: P Crossley

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Starting XI team news
Reading made two changes to their starting XI, handing Hal Robson-Kanu a first league start of the campaign on the left wing as we switched to our 4-2-3-1 formation. Jobi McAnuff was just behind frontman Shane Long; Simon Church dropping to the bench. At the back, Alex Pearce replaced the suspended Zurab Khizanishvili, so Ivar Ingimarsson was named as a sub, his first involvement since March.

First half
The game started at a nice pace, and it was an interesting beginning to an encounter between two in-form sides.

On 19 minutes Robson-Kanu showed the ability that prompted Brian McDermott to bring him into the starting XI, skinning two Town defenders down our left wing and getting in a brilliant cross that the visitors just about hacked clear after a scramble involving Shane Long and Jimmy Kebe.

Midway through the half a high speculative ball put Matt Mills under pressure close to his own box, and Jason Scotland did his best to capitalise with a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge. The Trinidadian got the better of our skipper, and had a very good chance one-on-one with Adam Federici but shot wide of the near post.

Soon afterwards Robson-Kanu played another fabulous ball down the line for Long, and the Irishman found Kebe in the middle, but despite showing great feet the Malian shot wide with his left foot.

We were building the pressure nicely, and within a minute another good left wing cross, this time from Ian Harte, saw Jem Karacan try with a header from fully 18 yards but it sailed narrowly over.

The visitors were putting in a couple of meaty challenges in a bid to get back into the game, and Luke Hyam was rightly booked for a hefty tackle on Long out on our right wing.

The home crowd were right behind us, and if Robson-Kanu's touch had been a little bit more assured he could have taken advantage of a flap by Town keeper Marton Fulop.

We continued to press, and just before half time Chris Armstrong was disappointed not to have done better with a crossing opportunity inside the penalty area, before Long and then Town frontman Scotland failed to capitalise on half chances.

Second half
Town had a couple of decent early sights of goal in the second half, first when Andros Townsend shot at Federici and then when our keeper gathered at the second attempt after a high hanging cross.

With seven minutes of the second half gone Town were reduced to ten men; Hyam shown a second yellow after kicking the ball away at a Reading free kick. It was the type of infringement that often goes unpunished, but Hyam took a massive risk by kicking the ball away in the first place; the whistle having clearly gone well before he kicked the ball.

Reading had their tails up at the prospect of facing ten min, and Mills glanced a header from a Harte free kick but didn't get a decent purchase on it.

In the end, our numerical advantage only lasted seven minutes as Mills was shown a second yellow of the night. He fouled Townsend as the on-loan Spurs man raced down the left, and after something of a delay referee Phil Crossley produced a second yellow. Both of his cards were perhaps worthy of bookings by the letter of the law, but he only committed three fouls all night.

We responded positively though and the impressive Shaun Cummings got in a good left footed cross that Long glanced goalwards - fortunately for Fulop it was right at him; anywhere else and it was 1-0.

Sub Michail Antonio made an immediate impression with 19 minutes left, doing well to set up Karacan, whose drive from the edge of the box was well saved.

Reading looked the more likely as time drew on, and Jobi McAnuff soon forced Fulop into another stop.

With eight remaining Ipswich sub Jake Livermore had the visitors' first effort in roughly half an hour, and he caught it very nicely from the corner of the box but it fizzed wide.

With two minutes left Robson-Kanu pulled up injured as we prepared to take a corner, and Simon Church was thrown on in his place. The set piece found its way to Karacan on the edge of the box, and it fell right into Church's path for him to turn home left footed with his first touch. He had been on the pitch for perhaps 20 or 30 seconds and it was a quite incredible contribution.

Karacan was injured in the process of shooting, and required two minutes' worth of treatment before being able to battle on. The young Turkish midfielder had been superb and his bravery only went to further enhance the crowd's respect for his performance.

Ipswich did all they could to snatch an equaliser, and there was an almighty scramble toward the end of the five minutes of injury time but thankfully Federici smothered.

And so we took all three points after an excellent evening's entertainment. It was a tight game, but we were the better time in the final period and looked the more likely to break the deadlock as we pushed for a winner.

We are making a habit of nicking games late on, and we have also scored in every home game under Brian McDermott's management - long may it continue.

    Data provided by Press Association