Friday, March 25, 2016

25 March 2006 - Reading Rockets To The Top

On 25 March 2006, Reading FC secured promotion to the Premier League with a 1-1 draw at Leicester City. And they did it in record time.

As recently as 2002, they were in Division Two, but they won promotion to Division One that year, then reached the Championship in 2004. In their second season there, they got off to a poor start, losing to Plymouth 1-2 on opening day. But they followed that loss by going unbeaten for their next 33 league matches--they lost only twice all season. Along the way, they took the table's top spot in November and held on to it for the duration.

Going into their match against Leicester City, Reading were 16 points clear of second-place Sheffield United, with seven matches left to play for both teams. Critically, they were also nineteen and twenty points clear, respectively, of Walsall and Leeds United, who were the other teams in contention for the top two automatic promotion spots. 

Approximately 3,000 Reading supporters made the trip to Walkers Stadium--part of an overall crowd of 25,578--only to see the visitors go down 1-0 in the 38th minute due to a goal from Leicester's Iain Hume. But they equalized with a header from Kevin Doyle in the 85th minute and escaped with a draw. As it turned out, the results from the day's other matches meant they would have secured a top-two finish even with a loss. 

It was their first promotion to the top flight and it was the earliest any team had guaranteed promotion since the league went to a 46-game season. Unfortunately for Reading, they stayed in the Premier League for only two seasons before dropping back down to the Championship in 2008.

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