Although Reading are not immune to mid- and late-season breakdowns, the huge buffer they have established between themselves and promotion disappointment leaves just the question of whether the club's millionaire chairman, John Madejski, will still support them financially after they get into the Premiership. In the past few days, he has planted serious doubts. After all, he always said his ambition was to bring top-flight football to Reading, but he never promised to stay on afterwards.
While Madejski talks about when Reading play in the Premiership, manager Steve Coppell does not even risk the word if. His caution is usually at odds with Reading's ambitious play. Yesterday, after an early moment of consternation when Hahnemann had to fling himself across the goal to save Stern John's header, they attacked Coventry with broad and fleet attacks.
Dave Kitson, particularly, had Coventry's five-man defence struggling. Nicky Shorey and Glen Little rained centre after centre on the Coventry goal but Reading could not find a way through in the first half. However, with their first attack of the second, Bobby Convey played a neat pass forward to Kitson who sidestepped Marcus Hall and lifted the ball over Martin Fulop. Ironically, that spurred Coventry into purposeful attacking mode. Substitute Don Hutchison forced Hahnemann to dive low to deflect the ball away, before the goalkeeper tipped over a Michael Doyle header and then saw Marcus Hall's volley hit the crossbar.
The revival was destroyed when substitute Stephen Hunt hypnotised Coventry's Richard Duffy with his dribbling before crossing for Kitson to push the ball in. Coventry got nothing yet deserved medals for defiance.
Coppell admitted: "The biggest factor was our goalkeeper. And, no, I'm still not looking at the League table."
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