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16:54 30th May 2011

Report: Royals proud in defeat

Reading 2 (Hunt 48, Mills 56)
Swansea 4 (Sinclair 22 (p), 23, 79 (p), Dobbie 39)

The Royals suffered a cruel loss in the Championship play-off final at Wembley - but can be proud of the manner of defeat.

Brian McDermott's men so nearly fought back from a three-goal deficit, hitting the post at 3-2 before a late Scott Sinclair penalty sealed victory for the Swans.

Our boys played a full part in the game and can go into next season we their heads held very, very high. This was Swansea's day, but Brian McDermott's men deserve great credit.

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Griffin (Robson-Kanu 83), Harte, Khizanishvili, Mills (c); Karacan, Leigertwood, Kebe, McAnuff; Hunt (Church 75), Long
Subs: McCarthy; Cummings, Pearce, Howard, Tabb
Booked: Griffin (foul 7), Khizanishvili (dissent 11), McAnuff (foul 38)
Sent off: Tabb [sub] (foul and abusive language HT)

Swansea (4-3-2-1): De Vries; Rangel, Tate, Monk (c), Williams; Britton (Gower 75), Allen (Moore 89), Dobbie (Pratley 54); Dyer, Sinclair; Borini
Subs: Ma-Kalambay, Serran, Richards, Beattie
Booked: Borini (foul 11), Allen (foul 53), Gower (foul 81)

Attendance: 86,581 (40,000 Reading fans)

Referee: P Dowd

Starting XI team news
The Royals had Jimmy Kebe back in the starting Xi and he replaced Shaun Cummings in the only change from the play-off semi-final at Cardiff.

First half
Reading put Swansea under good pressure inside the first two minutes, and after great closing from Shane Long, a low cross from Jimmy Kebe caused City real problems and after Dorus De Vries' parry, Ashley Williams had to hack clear off the line.

With 15 minutes gone Jimmy Kebe went on a superb 60-yard run, but Long's eventual cross was slightly overhit; having been well found by Jem Karacan. Moments later the young Turk hit a good shot but Williams blocked.

Reading were enjoying good territory, and Garry Monk then saw a Noel Hunt cross smash into his arm inside the area - but there was no way it was deliberate so Phil Dowd was right not to give anything.

Swansea were then given a spot kick when Zurab Khizanishvili made a rash challenge on Nathan Dyer - again Dowd got it right and Scott Sinclair scored from 12 yards.

Incredibly, it was 2-0 within no more than 90 seconds; Stephen Dobbie doing very well to create space down the right, his low cross palmed by Federici but Sinclair was on hand to turn home from close range.

Reading enjoyed very good possession - but were hit for a third goal when Dyer broke down the right, Khizanishvili got a foot on it but it fell for Dobbie to sidefoot home well.

Just before half time Long had a glorious chance to get us back in the game when a right wing cross dropped at his feet - but he didn't get real contact on the ball and a real opportunity had passed the Irishman by.

There was still time for Mikele Leigertwood to hit a good strike that De Vries had to parry away, but that was the last action of note before the half time whistle blew.

Second half
The Royals got a great lifeline just three minutes after the restart, Hunt producing an excellent finish with a near post header that took a nick off Joe Allen on its way in.

City suddenly had more defending to do, and there was another shout for handball as Alan Tate went up for a header and it hit his arm but it would have been harsh.

Swansea were on the back foot and Allen was perhaps lucky only to be booked for a heavy challenge on Jobi McAnuff midway inside their half. Dobbie then danced well into our area but his shot went out for a throw.

But Reading were not to be held back, and Tate had to get in an excellent block to deny Kebe.

From the resulting corner it was 3-2 - Matt Mills powering home an unstoppable header from another McAnuff corner.

Then it was so close to 3-3, Karacan's effort deflected onto the post, City defending for their lives as Hunt's rebound was blocked superbly by Monk - it proved to be the key moment.

Swansea then found a foothold in the game and began to take the sting out of our attacking play.

And, with 11 minutes to go, Fabio Borini was fouled by Andy Griffin inside the area and Sinclair slotted home a superb pen for 4-2. And despite our best efforts, and a late half chance for Leigertwood, that was it.

No matter what - we hold our heads high. It has still been a special season, and although the emotion is raw now, we look back with pride.

    Data provided by Press Association