Manchester City 0 Reading 2: Lita strikes twice to disprove Pearce's doubts

Stuart Pearce was familiar with the potential of Reading's Leroy Lita long before the striker brought a furrow to his brow with two late goals at Eastlands on Saturday, but could not make up his mind how good he might become. Given the goalscoring crisis threatening their side, Manchester City fans might wish the penny had dropped sooner.

What's more, Lita's availability as a man in form for Pearce's debut as England Under-21 coach tomorrow is an irony unlikely to raise many chuckles around Maine Road, given the misgivings expressed by some over the City manager's decision to take on both jobs, in a restricted capacity.

"I watched him four times when he was at Bristol City," Pearce confessed. "I thought he had something although I wasn't sure he was good enough to step up to this level. I know he is now."

By the time DariusVassell became Pearce's first paid-for signing, Lita had already caught Steve Coppell's eye at Reading, who were persuaded to part with a club-record £1m fee that now looks cut-price.

That is one-sixth of the sum Pearce paid for Georgios Samaras, a 21-year-old Greek who may well have something but is showing little evidence of it currently. While Vassell, himself not a prolific goalscorer, at least made chances for himself on Saturday, Samaras had the body language of a woebegone passenger.

How Pearce must have wished he could have unearthed a Lita-like bargain during the latest transfer window, one that closed after one knock-back followed another, none more frustrating than the Tottenham manager Martin Jol's decision, literally at the 11th hour before trading ceased at midnight last Wednesday, not to sell Mido.

"It was frustrating," Pearce said. "But the window is shut now and it is down to the forwards that are here to fire in enough goals." Assertive words, yet with only the slow-to-acclimatise Bernardo Corradi and the rookie Daniel Sturridge - given his debut from the bench on Saturday - as alternatives to Vassell and Samaras, it is hardly a statement to inspire confidence. Only Watford and West Ham United have scored fewer Premiership goals than City this season. Reading continue to go onwards and upwards, their achievement in reaching the supposedly relegation-proof target of 40 points somewhat incidental given that they are sixth in the table. Coppell insists that they are "still wearing L-plates as a Premiership team".

Pearce has the chance to enjoy a spin-off from their success by picking Lita to face Spain's Under-21s at Derby tomorrow, and having scored there as a substitute on his debut against the Netherlands two years ago, even before he developed his game at Reading, the player has earned another opportunity.

Competition is tough but the way he took his goals on Saturday, both set up by Steven Sidwell on swift breaks from defence, impressed the watching coach, even if inflicting pain on him might not have been the obvious way to win favour.

"I'm doing my bit for my team and he's doing his bit for his team so he can understand and I'm sure he respects that," Lita said. "After the game he was cool. He shook my hand and just said to me, 'See you tomorrow.' He is a great character and a very passionate guy. Hopefully I can impress him in training during the week and try and get into the starting line-up."

Goals: Lita (79), Lita (89)

Manchester City (5-3-2): Weaver (Isaksson 35); Trabelsi, Richards, Dunne, Distin, Beasley; Barton, Dabo (Hamann 48), Ireland; Samaras (Sturridge 74), Vassell. Substitutes not used: Jihai, Corradi.

Reading (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Murty, Bikey, Ingimarsson, Shorey; Little (Oster, 80), Harper, Sidwell, Hunt; Lita, Long (Kitson, 75). Substitutes not used: Federici (gk), De la Cruz, Duberry.

Referee: H Webb (South Yorkshire).

Man of the match: Sidwell.

Attendance: 38,676.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest in Sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map