Coppell Hails Hero Harper

By Rob Cooper
Last updated : 14 August 2004

>A Happy Hat-Trick For Reading - Match Report

Steve Coppell had former Arsenal midfielder James Harper to thank for firing the Royals into third place in the fledgling league table.

Harper's potent first half thunderbolt gave Reading a 1-0 win over Sheffield United, their third successive win at Bramall Lane.

Although the season is just three games old, Harper already has already scored two goals - as many as he got in the whole of last season.

Coppell was clearly pleased with the efforts of 23-year-old Harper who had been suffering from a bruised hip in the run up to the game.

"He had a fitness test this morning. It was a precise finish and he did well to anticipate the knockdown. He's a footballer with a great desire to progress," said Coppell speaking to the press following this afternoon's win.

There is much for Reading fans to smile at this evening, but despite today's excellent result, Royals manager Coppell is asking for yet more from his players.

The Madejski Stadium outfit failed to add a crucial second goal and, like on Tuesday, could have been made to pay for their inability to find the net.

Yet although Forster and Kitson have failed been criticised for some tame shooting in Reading's last two matches, Coppell reckons the able duo will eventually combine to form a lethal partnership.

"We presented Dave and Nicky with a lot of attacking opportunities. With the pace of Forster and the athleticism of Kitson, I thought we'd always create opportunities. It's promising stuff," he admitted.

"Dave is a big target man with got skilful feet. If he's doing his job properly, it can be inspirational for the rest.

"Fozzy was disappointed not to score (this afternoon), but it's more disappointing when you walk off without having a chance. He had a number of opportunities, and could - perhaps should - have scored."

"As the game went on, I thought we'd score more on the break."

Although he expects a lot from Forster and Kitson, Coppell is wary not to hope for too much too soon from £800,000 import Bobby Convey.

The 21-year-old made his first start in Reading colours at Sheffield United toaday, but as a slight 5ft 6 inch winger he was largely anonymous as Warnock's tough-tackling Blades imposed themselves on the game.

"West Ham was a footballng game, but this was a championship game and it was a bit bewildering for Bobby. He's been playing in Washington where it's ninety odd degrees, but over here it's crash bang wallop," Coppell concluded.

>A Happy Hat-Trick For Reading - Match Report

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