Reading 2 Plymouth Argyle 0: Sonko sinks Plymouth's 'waifs and strays'

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The Independent Online

Paul Sturrock would be the first to admit that he has cast covetous eyes over Reading's squad of players. His own Plymouth team, one that he rather unflatteringly called a "bunch of waifs and strays", were soundly beaten by Steve Coppell's Reading team, courtesy of a set of goals from the defender Ibrahima Sonko at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday.

For Sturrock, however, it gave him an opportunity to look ahead to what could be achievable at Plymouth with a settled squad. "We cannot bring in the players that Reading can," said the Scotsman. "But what we can do is bring in hungry players and develop them. Waifs and strays come together for all sorts of reasons and it takes a lot of time on the training ground to get them to work together. That's what a team like Reading have done and that is what we need to do."

Sonko's opening goal came on 13 minutes when Stephen Hunt's corner was converted past Plymouth 'keeper Graham Stack.

Plymouth's best chance of the first half came on 27 minutes when the striker Jamie Mackie broke in behind the Reading defence. The back-peddling defenders, Hunt and Ivar Ingimarsson, however, recovered the situation. The visitors did little else to cause alarm and in truth, if Plymouth had taken something from the game, it would have been harsh on Reading.

Hunt added: "It was a good performance all round from the team and it is time to move on to the next game and do the same thing. The division is a tough one but I think that we will do well."

The second half began at a frantic pace and two minutes in, Mackie unleashed a fine shot. The American goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann was relieved to see the ball sail past his goal. It should have been the beginning of Plymouth's fight-back.

Moments later, Reading were further ahead. Again it was the imposing Sonko. Again, it was a header that should have been cleared by the defenders.

Coppell acknowledged afterward that it would be difficult for his side to match the haul of 106 points from their title-winning season and Hunt, who has started the season playing in an unfamiliar left-back spot, agreed. "We are not thinking too much about what we did in the division the last time we were here," Hunt said.

"But the big challenge that faces us is a mental one. We have to be mentally prepared in the right way otherwise we will get beaten and all of the players know that."

Goals: Sonko (13) 1-0; Sonko (50) 2-0.

Reading (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Rosenior, Sonko, Ingimarsson, S Hunt; Convey (Kelly, 85), Harper, Cissé, Kebe; Lita (N Hunt, 89), Doyle (Long, 76). Substitutes not used: Andersen (gk) Pearce.

Plymouth Argyle (4-4-2): Stack; Duguid, Doumbe, Seip (Timar, 86), Barker; Puncheon, Walton (McNamee, 66), Summerfield, Clark; Fallon, Mackie (MacLean, 66). Substitutes not used: Easter, Paterson.

Referee: R Beeby (Northamptonshire).

Man of the Match: Sonko.

Attendance: 19,202.

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