Writer: Stef C
Date:Saturday February 11 2006
Saints travelled to the Madjeski with virtually a whole new side from the team that drew 0-0 at St Mary's in the corresponding fixture four months ago; only Higginbotham, Lundekvam and Powell remained.
And the new look Saints team were impressive from the start, matching the excellent Royals for commitment and workrate in front of a record crowd at the Madjeski.
Considering how few of the Saints team had played together before, their play was crisp and sharp; Reading edged the game due to their clinical finishing. Saints were certainly not outplayed, having as many shots as their Premiership bound hosts.
Saints created the first real chance when Rasiak's powerful header was well saved by Hahnemann; Madsen bundled the loose ball over the line but was adjudged to have pushed the American stopper in the process.
Nathan Dyer then had an early drive saved before Reading took the lead against the run of play in the 15th minute. It was Dyer's mistake that led to the goal, the teenager failed to deal with a ball down the channel; Glenn Little picked up the ball on the touchline and his cutback left Lita with a simple tap in.
Saints attitude remained positive and Rasiak came close to equalising after 34 minutes. The Pole created the opening with an excellent turn to beat defender James Harper but he miscued his shot with only Hahnemann to beat.
The outstanding Ostlund came closest to getting Saints level when he did well to head Darren Potter's cross onto the post.
Moments later and Reading were 2-0 up. Again it was a goal that Southampton should have defended; Hahnemann punted a huge kick up field which was controlled by Doyle, the Saints defence didn't close him down quickly enough and the striker did well to turn and score from the edge of the box.
In the second half Saints continued to go forward but struggled to break down the resilient Reading defence.
The most promising aspect of the performance for Saints fans was the marked change in attitude, the players never let their heads go down even as the game slipped away from them.
If we can play with the same intensity and drive for the remainder of the season we wont have to look over our shoulders at the drop zone for much longer.
Date:Saturday February 11 2006
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