Charlton's players will sit down today to review this performance on video. It will prove uncomfortable viewing, both for them and for Les Reed, the coach who has been promoted to glory - or whatever - following the abrupt sacking of the manager Iain Dowie after just 12 Premiership games.
The footage will include Reading's opening goal after 18 minutes, when both Luke Young and Dennis Rommedahl were drawn into challenging Stephen Hunt, who produced a hugely buoyant display at the end of a week when it was revealed that he and Ibrahima Sonko had received anonymous death threats following the challenges that left the Chelsea goalkeepers Petr Cech and Carlo Cudicini injured last month.
Thus when the shaggy-haired Republic of Ireland winger found Nicky Shorey with a smart back-heel, the left-back was free to swing in a cross that was headed home by Seol Ki Hyeon, making use of a convenient space between Hermann Hreidarsson and Jonathan Fortune. As Hreidarsson turned away, head down, his body language spoke eloquently of resignation.
What else will there be to look forward to on the tape? Oh yes. 72 minutes: the Charlton midfielder Andy Reid, on the edge of the Reading box, passed the ball straight to the home winger Glen Little, who transferred it upfield to offer Steve Sidwell a shot on goal. Although Sidwell sliced his effort, it fell conveniently for the in-form Kevin Doyle to guide over the goalkeeper Scott Carson. Another reminder for the Addicks there - when you're down, nothing seems to go your way.
Yet it is now the responsibility of Reed, a pleasant, quietly spoken man with a passing resemblance to Murray Walker, to ensure that Charlton's luck turns, double-quick. Having spent an unprecedented £11m in the summer, the club currently bottom of the Premiership simply cannot afford to go down.
Several influential new players were missing through injury on Saturday, notably the Senegalese pair of the midfielder Amdy Faye and the defender Souleymane Diawara. Reed also only had Friday to work with his players, many of whom were involved in midweek internationals.
However, the concerns of Reading's Steve Coppell over what he termed the "new-manager effect" were never realised. The fact is that Reed is not really a new manager; he was a coach at Charlton in the 1990s under the previous manager Alan Curbishley before leaving for the Football Association in 1998 and returned to The Valley this summer to work under Dowie.
By contrast, Coppell is hugely experienced in the harsh realities of the job, and his team had everything Charlton need - spirit, application, optimism. He shies away, however, from heady talk of European qualification. "In my Palace days we were 10th in the League, and then [Attilio] Lombardo got injured and we were relegated," Coppell said with a wry grin. "The moment you think you are all right is the moment you are in trouble."
Such priceless wisdom is likely - only likely Steve, not certain, OK? - to keep Reading in the top flight. Charlton's prospects appear far less certain.
Goals: Seol (18) 1-0; Doyle (72) 2-0.
Reading (4-4-2): Hahnemann; Murty, Ingimarsson, Sonko, Shorey; Little (Gunnarsson, 88), Sidwell, Harper, Hunt; Seol (Oster, 88), Doyle (Lita, 75). Substitutes not used: Federici (gk), Bikey.
Charlton Athletic (4-4-2): Carson; Young, El Karkouri, Fortune, Hreidarsson; Rommedahl, Holland, Reid, Thomas (Ambrose, 57); M Bent (Sam, 79), D Bent. Substitutes not used: Andersen (gk), Hughes, Ashton.
Referee: G Poll (Hertfordshire).
Booked: Charlton Fortune, Hreidarsson, Rommedahl.
Man of the match: Hunt.
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