Where does Adam Le Fondre sit among the best Reading strikers? Part 2 (20-11)

After Adam Le Fondre left the club to join Cardiff, we looked at some of the factors that help make a striker great in the eyes of Reading fans. Today I take those factors and try to rank our best strikers of the past 20 years, starting with those 20 to 11.

As mentioned in part one, I sadly can't place some of the memorable names of yesteryear. Being just 27 I didn't see Ronnie Blackman, Kerry Dixon, Trevor Senior or Robin Friday so while they certainly are and should be in an all-time top 20, I'm keeping this list to my own viewing, which started around 20 years ago.

Also as I stated in the part one, this isn't a list just based on ability but overall contribution and the memories that player has helped to create.

20. Mathieu Manset (2011-2013) - Games: 28 Goals: 5

If anything this pick should demonstrate that actually we've not been blessed with massive depth in the striker department over the past 20 years. Manset just edges out Gregorz Rasiak and Uwe Hartenberger into the top 20 due to having a bit of a cult following and the fact that his two goals on the opening day of the 2011/12 season ultimately proved the point that won us the title.


Manset only scored five goals for the club in a two season spell but each of those five was dramatic, starting with a goal that almost sealed a win at Cardiff to one that earned all three points up at Barnsley. From there it was that dramatic brace against Millwall and his final goal arguably turned our season around as we fought back from 2-0 down at Bristol City to win 3-2.

He was a firm fans favourite off the pitch but really only spent 12 months at the club before a string of loan spells and it's hard to rank a striker with just five goals any higher!

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19.  Shaun Goater (2003-2005)  - Games: 49  Goals: 15

Feed the Goat and he will score.. well a few anyway. Reading sadly got a Goater that was very much winding down his career after a memorable stint with Manchester City. Alan Pardew had hoped the Goat would bring the nouse needed to keep the side in a play-off hunt but while he finished as our top scorer in 2003/04 with 14 goals, the rest of his time at the Madejski Stadium was rather lacklustre and he was frozen out to avoid paying a clause in his contract that would have seen City receive further cash.

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18. Darius Henderson (1999-2004) - Games: 83  Goals: 15

If Alfie thinks he's been hard done by being used as a substitute so often, he should speak to Darius Henderson who came off the bench 71 times for Reading and made just 12 starts. Still, Darius would score some crucial goals, none more so than a late brace that sealed a win for Reading at Peterborough during our promotion campaign of 2001/02.


17. Martin Williams (1995-2000)  Games: 156  Goals: 29

Reading fans love to remember those amazing seasons in the 90's that brought us so close to the Premier League and the run started by Alan Pardew that would eventually take us to the promised land. One era that's often buried to the back of our minds are those final years at Elm Park and the first couple at the Madejski, where Reading really did struggle.

One of the few decent performers during those baren years was Martin Williams, or 'Skittles' as some fans took to calling him due to the ease with which he hit the deck. He was never a prolific forward but battled away for nearly 30 goals in a five year spell where he was playing with some quite dreadful players.

It's safe to say he never had the WOW factor, nor did he have a great goals to games ratio or make you sit up in your seat but as one player who gave it his all during a bleak period, he gets on to this list.

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16. Simon Church (2009-2013)  Games: 122  Goals: 24

Say what you like about Simon Church but the lad managed to score a fair few goals and some of them were actually pretty decent (think Preston in 2010) A breakout season in 2009/10 saw the Welsh forward bag 12 goals in all competitions but he slowly slipped down the pecking order due to the breakout of Shane Long and then the arrival of Jason Roberts.

Church was certainly a hard worker but ultimately he never really showed consistency despite being given a fair few runs in the side.

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15. Pavel Pogrebnyak (2012- ) Games: 73  Goals: 21

The Pog still has time to climb this list but his Reading career so far has been decent rather than great. Widely believed to be the highest earner in our history, Pog managed just five goals in the Premier League and while 13 goals this season in the Championship have helped repair his reputation with the fans, there's still a nagging sense of under achievement with the Russian.

He's had some great moments though, with that winner against West Brom and the late brace against Doncaster both sticking in the memory. Sadly he's also had some horrible ones, not least two red cards against Wigan and Brighton.

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14. Leroy Lita (2005-2009)  Games: 100  Goals: 32

There's no good reason that Leroy shouldn't be a lot higher on this list. Lita was Reading's first £1 million pound player and was a part of the most successful side in Reading's history so he builds up a fair bit of credit on that alone.

However, Leroy was a bit of a nightmare off the pitch and the fact he could manage just two goals in his last two years at the club really brings him down in my eyes.

Still, his memorable moments against Crystal Palace, West Brom and Manchester City do ensure him a place in the top 15.


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13. Lee Nogan (1995-1997) - Games: 102  Goals: 29

This one surprised me a bit because I'd always held Nogan in higher regard due to him being part of that 94/95 side. However when you actually look at his overall impact at the club, it really wasn't that amazing. 11 goals during his first six months was followed by just 11 the next season and six in his final campaign as Reading slowly slide back down the First Division.

However Nogan did score one of the best goals you'll see in a play-off final, even if it did end in tears.


12. Jason Roberts (2012-2014)   Games: 29  Goals: 7

You might ask how someone with less than 30 games for the club reach as high as 12 but if you're asking that question you didn't see how Roberts almost single handedly turned Reading from play-off contenders to Champions in 2012.

Roberts was the key to that promotion season and while someone like a Leroy Lita may have played a part in a better Championship winning side, he wasn't as vital as Roberts in turning around a team's fortunes.

Sadly injury ruined Roberts final two years and the rather foolish decision to give him a contract last season was a symbol of all that went wrong in the brief TSI era.

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11. Noel Hunt (2008-2013)  Games: 162  Goals: 39

Hunt was never the main man at Reading but he was often the one that would bring out the best in his partner. Kevin Doyle, Shane Long and Jason Roberts all thrived when partnered with Hunt and the Irishman chipped in with some key goals along the way himself, like the goal to give us the lead at West Ham in 2012.

It's not linked to his ability on the pitch but I'll give him extra credit for being one of the most active Reading players in the community we've seen in recent years, a real breath of fresh air in an age when plenty of other footballers are far from good role models.

Injuries probably kept him from really reaching his full potential but you knew you were always going to get an energetic and hard working performance from Noel, even if the quality was sometimes lacking.

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So that's numbers 20 to 11. You should be able to work out the top 10 based on who's missing but is there anyone from the past 20 years that should be on this list, or should some of the names we've mentioned above be a bit higher?

Please let us know your thoughts.

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