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Reading 2012

Reading FC welcomed Football Aid to the impressive Madejski stadium for another highly anticipated evening of football. The Royals fans would be the first set of players to grace the new Premier League pitch after the Royals had enjoyed a magnificent season securing the Championship title. The news that Lawrie Sanchez would be managing the Home team, with current pro Dean Morgan playing for the opposition, would only have increased their excitement. With the weather positively balmy, the stage was set for a wonderful night of football as the proud Royals marched out onto the hallowed turf!

Wednesday 30th May 2012
Reading Home vs Reading Away
Kick Off: 18.30
Legends: Lawrie Sanchez and Dean Morgan
Match Officials: Peter Munt, Andrew Stevens, Steve Woodison and Chris Evans

It was Dean Morgan’s Away side wearing all Red that got the game underway; however it was the Home team combination of Jones, Copson and Smith that created the first chance of the game. A series of crafted passed between the 3 allowed Captain Raymond Prior to get his shot away but it was beaten by the post.

The deadlock was broken in the 10th min though, some scrappy defending and an inability to get tight enough to their marker, allowed deadly Away striker Andy Harland to twist and turn in the box with 6 players around, before he curled a well placed shot into the top corner. Despite the disappointing defending, you can’t take anything away from that finish! (0-1)

The Away team went from strength to strength, and dare I say it, were moving the ball around like Spanish champions Barcelona! Simple passes, players moving into space, overlapping runs and an ability to find the crucial final ball, it was certainly impressive stuff. And it wasn't long before they increased their lead, Joe Sharples finding himself on the end of Jack Comerford’s ball played in behind. The striker's first time effort found the inside of the far post, leaving the goalkeeper with no chance. (0-2)

With 25 mins played, the Away team produced another well worked move. Harland caused problems by dropping off short, allowing the midfielders to run in behind the striker. Comerford’s run created space and the No 7's reverse ball found the overlapping run of Johan Bäckström. The Swedish right back fired it into the path of unmarked Mark Barnett and he slotted it into the net. (0-3)

No one could argue with the class displayed by Dean Morgan throughout the whole game, and the former Royals star created the next goal. Skipping past 2 players, he played a one-two and fed the ever impressive Michael Lee through on goal, and the reliable No 10 wasn’t going to miss from there. (0-4)

Although meant to be a left back, Dean Morgan couldn't curb his attacking instincts and more often than not found himself floating in the attacking midfielder's role, exchanging crisp passes with Centre Midfielders Barnett and Lee. In one such attack Morgan gathered the ball, advanced towards goal and instantly curled the ball into the far bottom corner. A wonderful strike! (0-5)

With 5 mins left in the 1st half, Jack Comerford scored with the kind of strike he'll remember for a long time. The talented midfielder controlled a cross-field long ball, took a positive touch forward into space and unleashed a rocket of a shot that hit the underside of the bar and went flying into the goal. In the famous words of Andy Gray ‘Take-a-bow-son’! He will definitely be in contention for goal of the season with that strike. (0-6)

At the other end of the pitch, Jason Guy, could have had his moment of glory when the energetic Gerken fed him through, but Guy could only find row Z with his attempt…

And amazingly the scoring wasn’t over for the 1st half, Lee received Morgan’s throw and opened up his body, picking out Captain Andrew Harland, who was playing off the last man. His strike slipped underneath the goalkeeper's hands and into the net. It was Harland’s second of the game; however he could have had more after he had uncharacteristically squandered a few other clear cut chances. (0-7)

The referee blew his whistle for half-time shortly after, drawing an incredible half of football to a conclusion. The Away team had produced some truly fantastic, free-flowing football that the Home team simply couldn't cope with. Home Manager Lawrie Sanchez was going to have his work cut out for him at half time.

Half-Time: Reading Home 0 - 7 Reading Away

The Home side wearing the famous Blue and White hoops started the 2nd half brightly and should have opened their account. A good counter attack won a corner, however Dean Smith’s in-swinger whistled past Terry Rickeard in the 6 yard box. If only the No 14 could have got something on the ball. And they kept up the pressure when Gerken’s ball picked out Scott Paddon unmarked in the box, however the substitute's header couldn’t find the target. The fight-back continued when Smith's double attempt was saved by makeshift goalkeeper Bäckström. The Home team had created three fantastic early chances and looked like they had unnerved the Away team.

However the Away side were gaining in confidence, and 14 mins into the half they scored again. Andy Harland dropped short again, before feeding the ball out to Mark Barnett on the right, a simple one-two allowed the No 6 to whip in a cross and Jack Comerford literally flung himself at the ball, scoring with a fantastic diving header. (0-8)

That seemed to take the wind out of the Home team's sails and shortly afterwards a series of defensive errors and poor marking proved costly for them. Jones picked out Barnett down the left and he found Andy Harland in acres of space on the penalty spot. With a defensive ocean in front of the 6 yard box the No 11 managed to find the top corner with ease. Another goal for hat-trick hero Harland! (0-9)

In the 70th min, the Away team hit double figures when Dean Morgan showcased his matchless pace, leaving the Home team's defence for dead. His well struck shot was well tipped away by Harrison in the Home goal; however Joe Sharples was perfectly placed to tap in the rebound. (0-10)

With the lack of substitutes beginning to tell on a visibly tiring Home team, there seemed to be no end to the attacking moves from the sea of Red as they pressed for another. Michael Lee carried the ball forward from his own half and unopposed the No 10 slotted the ball into the path of Joe Sharples who showed no mercy, finding the bottom corner and bagging the 2nd hat-trick of the game at the same time. (0-11)

The Home side continued to show real passion throughout the game as they searched for a goal and they eventually got their just rewards. An offside decision against the Away team allowed goalkeeper Harrison the opportunity to launch a route one ball up-field. The Away defender missed the header and Terry Rickeard found himself through on goal. Just as it looked like he was about to pull the trigger teammate Dean Smith rushed in front of Rickeard and fired the ball into the net. They had done it, a well deserved goal from a side that hadn’t stopped trying despite the scoreline. (1-11)

However, the Away team instantly replied when Sharples let Morgan loose; driving towards goal, the unstoppable Morgan faked a shot, drawing the defender in, before unselfishly playing the ball to Captain Andy Harland who was able to pick his spot from close range with ease. (1-12)

The prolific Harland started and finished the next move, bagging his 5th goal of the day in the process. The striker picked the ball up in his own half and passed it to Morgan, then after continuing his run down the left, Morgan sent him through, and the No 11 beautifully curled the ball into the far corner. (1-13)

Straight from the centre the ball was given away and it fell to Dean Morgan; turning on the pace he sped past the defender into the clear and after toying with the goalkeeper, he rolled it into the net. (1-14)

Not to be denied the Home team was then awarded a penalty in the 80th min when Smith flicked the ball up, hitting the arm of Darryl Beecham, who might have felt the award was harsh, given he couldn’t get out the way. Captain Raymond Prior, who was nursing a previous injury, stepped up to take the kick, however his attempt rattled the post.

A hilarious hand ball by centre half Gary Thomas, resulted in a yellow card and also the Home team doubling their tally. Home No 4 Terry Jones floated an impressive ball into Rickeard, who powered his header towards goal, the keeper missed it, but Dean Smith was on hand to nod it home. (2-14)

The Away team thoroughly deserved their impressive win, but you can't take anything away from the Home team, who never gave up and battled all the way to the end. Despite finishing up on the wrong end of a heavy defeat Lawrie Sanchez would have been delighted with the fight they demonstrated.

Full-Time: Reading Home 2 - 14 Reading Away

Man of the Match Home: James Gerken
Man of the Match Away: Mark Barnett
Moment of the Match: Jack Comerford

Home Team: Edward Harrison, Gary Jones, Terry Jones, Michael Butler, Mike Copson, Dean Smith, Scott Paddon, Raymond Prior (C), Joe Matthews, Jason Guy, Terry Rickeard, Michael Butler, James Gerken, Sam Paddon,
Manager: Lawrie Sanchez
Mascot: George Jones

Away Team: Neil Moore, Johan Bäckström, Dean Morgan, Darryl Beecham, Gary Thomas, Mark Barnett, Jack Comerford, Paul Wakefield, Joe Sharples, Michael Lee, Andrew Harland (C), Paul Evans, Gary Jones (H2)
Legend: Dean Morgan
Mascot: Liam Barnett