Coppell must dig deep to find gloom

Reading 3 Hull City 1
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The Independent Football

Reading's record-breaking unbeaten run in all competitions extended to 21 at the Madejski Stadium. But there is one person who never seems satisfied and will not be until promotion is in the bag. And this nervy performance suggested that Steve Coppell's caution may not bemisplaced.

Coppell has always seen a glass as half empty rather than half full. Every upward step Reading have taken this season has been interpreted as another in the avoidance of relegation. It gets a bit depressing, but he has a point. The fans would probably rather be promised nothing than endure another season of what might have been.

Not that Coppell could have been anything less than happy as Reading took the lead after only eight minutes and might have been two ahead by that early stage. Bobby Convey hit a sweet volley that Boaz Myhill superbly flicked over the bar before a cutting midfield pass from Kevin Doyle left Convey free to bend a fine shot past the unfortunate Myhill.

For a short time, Hull were in almost permanent retreat. Myhill parried a dangerous low-cross shot from Leroy Lita and dared not relax for a moment. However, when they did get a couple of chances to go forward, Hull's Leon Cort was denied by Marcus Hahnemann, and Nick Barmby clipped a post. Reading are not always at their best after scoring.

Certainly the absence of Dave Kitson, their leading scorer who was suspended, took the edge off their attack, but they were making life difficult for themselves in all areas.

Hull did not greatly improve, it was simply that Reading went flat and lost the initiative. As a result, Hull equalised on 55 minutes when Mark Lynch's cross was headed on at the near post and Barmby looped in a header. But the thought of the win drifting away suddenly electrified the home side. The industrious Convey worked hard and created the 68th-minute opportunity for Kevin Doyle to succeed with an overhead kick. Within 60 seconds, Convey was again fully involved, running the ball into the Hull penalty area before releasing it to Glen Little who easily avoided Myhill to score.

Was Coppell satisfied? "Well, it was an interesting game, " he conceded." We got a bit scatty but there was some good teamwork." Praise indeed.