Coppell Satisfied With Opening Day Victory
Feature by Rob Cooper
Updated Saturday, 7th August 2004
Although his side came from behind to beat recently-promoted Brighton & Hove Albion 3-2 at the Madejski Stadium, Royals boss Steve Coppell was hardly pleased with his side's defending.
'Could and must do better' seemed to be the message Royals boss Steve Coppell wanted to put across to the media following his side's frenzied 3-2 win over Brighton on the season's opening day.
With Reading going head-to-head with West Ham United on Tuesday, the Royals boss must quickly organise his team better defensively if they are to get anything out of a crunch clash.
Today Coppell's side slipped behind after just nineteen seconds when Brighton striker Maheta Molango slammed home.
The Royals were level seventy seconds later when Dave Kitson levelled things.
Although Harper and Forster also found the back of the net, the Royals were to concede mid-way through the second half, ensuring a tense finale.
The Seagulls appeared to be somewhat toothless going forward, yet they twice managed to snap through Reading's timid defence.
Swiss-born debutant Molango was able to create far too much for a lone frontman playing his first game in English football.
Steve Coppell was not impressed.
"They could have got a point," said the Reading boss, speaking after the game.
"They even had chances to win the game, but we also had more chances of our own."
"We'd just been talking about clean sheets, keep it tight, don't give anything away, and then within 10 seconds we were 1-0 down! If Brighton had been able to settle on that we could have been in trouble. But fortunately we got a goal back right away."
"Having got ourselves in a position of being 3-1 up with half-an-hour remaining, we should have been able to claim it up and control the final stages.
"But Brighton showed they're not going to lie down and the last 15 or 20 minutes were considerably harder than they should have been."
Despite the slightly disappointing performance the fans were pleased to see the team earn three points from a difficult opening game against a plucky Brighton side just promoted from the Second Division.
With the sharp summer sunshine frazzling all within the stadium, the game was always going to be more about three points than a good performance.
"I'm grateful for the three points," added Coppell.
"At home you want to get a decent result to start the season. For me there was the complication of Brighton - I've got a lot of good friends there and have a lot of affection for the club.
"To face them in the first game meant there was a bit more of an edge."
Reading play West Ham, who today drew with Leicester, on Tuesday evening before travelling to Bramall Lane next Saturday.
Both the Hammers and the Blades have serious promotion aspirations and will provide a tough test for Reading's new-look side.
If the Royals are to maintain their lofty league position they must tighten up at the back, whilst Dave Kitson and Co must finish off their chances when they come to them.
Match Report: Royals Record Opening Day Victory - Reading 3 Brighton 2