Royals outdo Preston ten years ago
Ahead of Preston’s visit to Madejski Stadium this Saturday, we cast our minds back to that record-breaking 2005/6 Championship campaign where Steve Coppell’s side faced Billy Davies’ in-form Lilywhites towards the end of February.
With the visitors unbeaten in the league in almost five months, Reading couldn’t call themselves the form team this time around, having previously seen their 33-match undefeated run come to an end at the hands of Luton for only their second defeat of the season.
Preston came into the fixture eager to add points to their push for a play-off place, but goals from Steven Sidwell and Leroy Lita determined the game and put a dent in those hopes, ending the Lilywhites’ 22-match unbeaten run in the league.
The first half got off to a lightning start when inside the opening six minutes, Sidwell converted after Bobby Convey’s in-swinging corner caused trouble in the box. Preston Stopper Carlo Nash misjudged the flight of the ball and left the Royals midfield maestro to turn home amidst a goalmouth scramble.
Two minutes later and Preston were handed a free-kick when Ibrahima Sonko was deemed to have upended Claude Davis on the edge of the box. Callum Davidson’s well executed set-piece was on point and he managed to curl the ball around the wall and home to put Preston back level after seven minutes played in the tie.
The game was then overshadowed from a Reading point of view by injury to Dave Kitson. The ball was played long by Graeme Murty and Kitson gave chase only to be met by an onrushing Nash who collided heavily with the striker at full tilt, ending his game and meaning he had to be replaced by fellow frontman Lita.
Seconds before the first half came to a close, it was substitute Lita who gave Reading the lead going into the break. Kevin Doyle had threaded a delightful ball through to the striker and from a narrow angle to the right of the goal, his effort was driven past Nash and found the bottom left corner, ensuring Steve Coppell’s men the lead for the second time in the game.
In the second 45 the Royals looked to hold on to their winning position and both Graeme Murty and John Oster had to be alert to clear the ball away from a certain goal.
Come full-time, although Preston had tested Reading’s resolve, the Royals had come out winners and proved to all why they deserved to be residing at the summit of the Championship table.
Three points that afternoon took their points tally to 86, 12 ahead of second placed Sheffield United. A trip to Turf Moor to face Burnley was up next for the Royals in a season where Steve Coppell’s side would go on to reach new heights!