Ipswich v Reading Match Report

IPSWICH Town won at home in the Coca-Cola Championship for the first time this season thanks to goals in the 63rd minute goal by debut-maker Jon Stead and four minutes from time by a bandaged Jon Walters.

Elvin King

Ipswich Town 2 Reading 0

IPSWICH Town won at home in the Coca-Cola Championship for the first time this season thanks to goals in the 63rd minute goal by debut-maker Jon Stead and four minutes from time by a bandaged Jon Walters.

The Blues turned on the attacking style for much of the match and struck the woodwork three times - twice through Pablo Counago and once through Alan Quinn.

Town fully deserved their win although Richard Wright made a couple of vital saves and Noel Hunt headed against the home bar in stoppage time.

After two defeats in their previous home games this term the pressure was on the Blues to get a result today.

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And having just one win under their belts in four league matches only added to the pressure for manager Jim Magilton and his men.

Stead, signed from Sheffield United on loan until January on the closing day of the summer transfer window and taking Alan Lee's number 14 shirt, made his debut, while Moritz Volz was making his home debut after his season-long loan from Fulham.

Ipswich made four changes with a dead leg ruling out Ben Thatcher. Kevin Lisbie and Ivan Campo were relegated to the bench while Liam Trotter was left out altogether.

With Alex Bruce still suspended, the fit again David Wright returned with Owen Garvan and Alan Quinn back in the side along with Stead.

Magilton was opting for a return to a 4-4-2 formation after playing Campo in front of the back four against Watford in the last game. Reading were unchanged from the side that beat Crystal palace 4-2 in their last match.

David Wright took Thatcher's place at left back and Quinn played on the troublesome left side of midfield - with four of the last six meetings between these two clubs ending 1-1.

Town had their first chance in the sixth minute when Volz put Garvan to the by-line. The pull-back found Counago who swivelled and sent a right-foot shot high over the bar.

In the ninth minute a vital stop by R Wright denied Kebe from giving Reading the lead. The number 14 played a 1-2 and went clear of the Town defence. With only the keeper to beat, Kebe's side-foot struck the advancing R Wright and bobbled just the far side of the keeper's left-hand post.

Walters had to rush to the dressing room with a towel to his head after suffering a cut, and the Blues had to play on with ten men.

The visitors went close to breaking clear again - with McAuley having to clear when Kebe reached the by-line to cross low into the danger zone.

Stead was covering lots of ground and looking confident on the ball - and now operating on the right of midfield in Walters' continuing absence.

Walters returned after having four stitches in the 18th minute and Karacan had to get back quickly to rob Quinn after a pass from Walters put the number 25 running through the middle.

Town went within an inch or two of taking the lead in the 21st minute when Stead crossed from the right touchline. Counago headed towards goal and the ball rebounded off the underside of the bar on to the goal line and into the grateful hands of Hahneman.

It was a close shave in a thoroughly absorbing end-to-end contest. In the 26th minute Quinn allowed right back Rosenior to run clear and his cross was cut out only for Long to shoot over when the ball ran loose.

Skipper McAuley then limped off with a dead leg and went with the physio straight to the dressing room with Balkestein coming on to partner Naylor at the heart of the Ipswich defence.

Walters blasted a D Wright cross into the net, but an offside flag had been raised for a couple of seconds. And within seconds, Walters stung Hahnemann's fingers with a 20-yard angled drive. From the corner Naylor headed over from six yards.

Ipswich were playing some lively football and when Garvan crossed from the right in the 33rd minute, Stead slid in his long legs beyond the far post to send an effort across goal and a foot wide.

Reading were relegated from the Premier League at the end of last season and the Royals were seeking their first away league win since their return to the Championship.

Walters had to go off and have his head bandaged as blood was still seeping from his earlier wound.

A neat one-two between Stead and Counago saw the former barged off the ball as he went to go clear. The referee deemed the offence a foot outside the penalty area, but it was a close thing. Garvan's effort from the short free-kick was charged down.

Town's defending was not as sound as the manager would like, and Naylor had to head away at the far post when Reading pushed forward once more.

Counago struck the same section of woodwork as earlier in the 43rd minute when he spun and beat Hahnemann with an angled 15-yard shot that bounced back into play from the bar.

In the two minutes of first half stoppage time, Pearce fired over when well placed after a corner had dropped at his feet.

Attacking the North Sand goal after the break, Town continued to look good and Stead had a close range shot strike Counago. Neat play by Stead and Counago then released Quinn, but he was caught up before he could get in his shot, which went wide.

It was a warm, sunny day with Reading bringing precious few fans considering the journey can be achieved in around two hours.

There was concern about a possible low attendance figure with fans disenchanted after a dismal start to the campaign, although with over 15,000 season tickets sold the stadium still looked well populated with an average-sized crowd of 21,366 announced.

Good play by Stead in the 62nd minute almost brought Town the goal they deserved. Quinn shot from 23-yards, and Hahnemann did well to dive to his left and first the ball away.

But Town did score in the 63rd minute, and it was STEAD the marksman. He twisted and turned to the right of the penalty area before bending a left foot curler beyond the keeper and into the net off the far post.

In the 72nd minute, Volz cleared off the line as Reading swarmed around the home goal with substitute N Hunt having the effort on goal.

Ipswich were showing a few nerves now and R Wright had to collect the ball under pressure when underneath the bar.

Quinn struck the post in the 79th minute after Counago had caused mass confusion in the visiting ranks. Quinn had a free if hurried shot from in front of goal.

In the 86th minute Town sewed the game up when Lisbie gave Quinn time to cross to the far post where WALTERS arrived on cue to head down and beyond the exposed keeper.

N Hunt back-headed against the Town bar as R Wright stretched and five minutes of stoppage time commenced.

Lisbie miscued with the keeper way out of goal, and R Wright saved a goal-bound effort from Kebe.

Teams

Ipswich: R Wright; Volz, McAuley (sub Balkestein 26 mins), Naylor, D Wright; Walters, Garvan, Miller, Quinn; Stead (Lisbie 74), Counago (Campo 87). Subs: Supple, Haynes.

Reading: Hahnemann; Rosenior, Pearce, Ingimarsson, Armstrong (Convey 74); Harper, Karacan (Bikey 79), Kebe, S Hunt; Long (N Hunt 60), Doyle. Subs: Federici, Kelly.

Referee: K D Hill (Hertfordshire)

Attendance: 21,366