Goal-king Noel bags a doubleBy Nick Ive
July 30, 2008
Noel Hunt grabbed his first two goals for his new club as Reading ended their tour of Sweden with a third successive victory.
The £600,000 signing from Dundee United came on as a substitute at half-time and struck twice to ensure Royals saw off the threat of Halmstads, who play in the Allsvenskan, the Swedish equivalent of the Premier League.
Reading have now won all seven of their pre-season matches and boss Steve Coppell was full of praise for his squad.
He said: “Winning can’t harm us. Halmstads are a decent outfit in the top division and again we forced the pace of the game.
“We maintained the speed of the game against a side who are in the middle of their season. They are a very able side.
“I am happy with the tone of the tour. There has been a good atmosphere and it is coming together quite nicely. We look okay and now have a difficult game to look forward to on Saturday (at home to Aston Villa).”
Royals opened brightly and Jimmy Kebe, who had a lively first half, was thwarted by a fine save from Magnus Bahne in the opening minute, while Hunt’s elder brother Stephen was also denied by the keeper.
It was Royals’ toughest test of the pre-season to date, and the home side’s first opening came on 21 minutes, but Magnus Arvidsson’s poorly executed chip was never going to trouble Marcus Hahnemann.
Halmstads, whose most famous export was Freddie Ljungberg to Arsenal, grew in confidence to finish the half in the ascendancy with Emir Kujovic forcing Hahnemann into making a save down to his right.
Royals made six changes at the break. The alterations in personnel gave Coppell’s men fresh impetus and they carved out the best opening on 55 minutes.
Hahnemann’s long punt picked out Kevin Doyle, who carried the ball forward before crossing for Leroy Lita. The striker made decent contact with his head, but the Halmstads keeper was again equal to the effort, saving with his legs.
At the other end Hahnemann needed to be at full stretch to keep out Marcus Olsson.
Ibrahima Sonko was then denied a well-taken headed goal by an offside flag before the deadlock was finally broken on 73 minutes.
Keeper Bahne looked to have Marek Matejovsky’s threaded through-ball covered, but he somehow let the ball slip through his hand, presenting DOYLE with the simplest task of slotting into an open net.
And Royals doubled their lead a minute later when Noel HUNT pounced from close range to convert Bobby Convey’s cross from the touch-line.
Halmstads responded with a goal 11 minutes from time when Emil Jensen made the most of some slack Reading defending to slide the ball across the face of goal for Alexander PRENT to smash home.
Convey was denied by a stunning save before Noel HUNT added his second goal three minutes from time. His header was ruled to have crossed the line after it crashed down off the crossbar.
Doyle made sure the ball went over the line, but the referee’s assistant signalled that Hunt had already scored.
Reading: Hahnemann (Andersen 77mins), Pearce (Rosenior 46mins), Shorey, Duberry (Ingimarsson 46mins), Sonko, Cisse (Matejovsky 46mins), Harper (Karacan 69mins), S Hunt (Convey 46mins), Kebe (N Hunt 46mins), Long (Doyle 46mins), Lita (Henry 69mins).