High-flying Royals leave Royle tactics in tatters

Reading 2 Ipswich Town 0
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The Independent Football

Reading were helped by the gross ineptitude of their visitors, who chose a 3-5-2 formation for the first time this season that unbalanced them, and they then committed basic errors all over the pitch, not least in defence.

The Suffolk side were lucky to get away with one such mistake early on. With only three minutes gone, they enjoyed a reprieve when Jason De Vos was adjudged to have fouled Kevin Doyle 25 yards out without much in the way of cover, making a red card an option. However, the referee felt a yellow card was punishment enough and the free-kick was wasted.

The Ipswich manager, Joe Royle, defended his decision to go with 3-5-2, saying the players could cope with it, but it met with no success at all. It made the centre-backs jittery and unsure of their positions, something summed up by Reading's first goal.

After 18 minutes, Chris Makin, the former Ipswich full-back, found Doyle in plenty of space. The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international then put in a dangerous cross that, with Leroy Lita lurking behind him, Richard Naylor, another of the centre-backs, put past his own goalkeeper.

With Ipswich in disarray - only Nicky Forster had put the ball in the net and that was after his handball - Royle was forced to change things.

De Vos was the central defender to be sacrificed, making way for the striker Adam Proudlock, but with the Tractor Boys reorganising they then conceded their second of the afternoon.

Glen Little, out on the right wing, dispossessed James McEveley and put in the perfect cross for Doyle to head past Lewis Price from six yards.

That goal only increased the pressure on the visitors to attack and Reading were gradually being presented with gaps all over the pitch to exploit.

With 63 minutes gone they were then denied twice within seconds by the frame of the goal. Firstly, Doyle set up Lita, whose volley came off the post and back to Doyle, who volleyed on to the crossbar.

Chances to bury their guests came when Nicky Shorey saw his shot from 25 yards palmed over by Price and then James Harper saw his long-range effort blocked by Fabian Wilnis.

They could have regretted those misses when, with nine minutes left, Marcus Hahnemann dropped the ball at Proudlock's feet and he would have scored but for Ibrahima Sonko's quick thinking as he headed away from his own goal-line but in all other aspects Reading were as secure as their league position suggests.

Goals: Naylor (18) 1-0; Doyle (47) 2-0.

Reading (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Makin, Sonko, Ingimarsson, Shorey; Little (Oster, 72), Gunnarsson, Harper, Convey (Hunt, 81); Doyle (Kitson, 63), Lita. Substitutes not used: Stack (gk), Baradji.

Ipswich Town (3-5-2): Price; Naylor, De Vos (Proudlock, h/t) Wilnis; Castro, Magilton, Horlock, Currie, McEveley; Parkin, Forster (Garvan, 69) Substitutes not used: Supple (gk), Bowditch, Juan.

Referee: S Tanner (Somerset).

Bookings: Ipswich Town De Vos, Naylor, Horlock, Bowditch.

Man of the match: Doyle.

Attendance: 17,581.