Crewe Alexandra 3 Reading 4: Lita at the double as leaders hold off Crewe

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The Independent Football

"We've got no interest in the run, we just want to win football games," he said. "If we look at ourselves, make demands of ourselves and judge ourselves and let everyone else take care of themselves, we can't go wrong."

Crewe had the temerity to pierce Reading's rearguard three times, but the visitors showed the assurance to see off their upstart hosts. "We always knew it was going to be a tough game and it was obvious they would get the ball up to their frontmen as quickly as possibly," said Coppell. "But we knew that would leave them a little bit bare at the back and we had some great opportunities ourselves. I could not have asked for anything more going forward."

It was the home side who took a surprise lead on 14 minutes when Marcus Hahnemann spilled Luke Rodgers' awkward shot and Lee Bell was on hand to force the ball home.

Nicky Shorey equalised with a wicked free-kick, then Steve Sidwell underlined the natural order on 26 minutes with a precise header, and Leroy Lita added a third with a confident turn and finish before half-time. Reading stepped up the pressure after the interval, though Crewe again raised concerns about the Royals' rearguard when Gareth Taylor side-footed their second.

No matter. Reading added a fourth when Lita touched home Bobby Convey's low cross. Crewe though, would not give up, and Kenny Lunt's penalty following Shorey's handball gave Reading a difficult final quarter of an hour. Lunt was sent off at the death for a professional foul on Stephen Hunt, but by then any hope of snatching something for Crewe had disappeared.