April 9th 2011
So we won then? Just! A late winner from Simon Church wrapping up a 4-3 win and three points for the good guys
The Team? McCarthy, Griffin, Harte, Khizinishvili, Ingimarsson, Leigertwood, Karacan, Kebe (Robson-Kanu), McAnuff, Manset (Church 75), Long.
MOTM: Jem Karacan, crucial equaliser and was busy all afternoon.
Tilehurst End Match Report In Brief:
If my last two match reports could have been copied from November/December then I'm struggling to find anything to compare this one too! The closest would be the 4-3 win over Doncaster, where Church stole us a late win, but this game was so end to end and unpredictable that nothing does it justice.
The win was absolutely crucial for Reading, who now find themselves six points clear of the chasing pack with a vastly superior goal difference, meaning that wins in four of our last six games will see us reach the play-offs. But suddenly there's an even greater prize within our sights, as results elsewhere ensured we're just four points off second placed Norwich... could we perhaps?...
NO I'll stop myself there because right now, as Brian McDermott said post game, we just need to focus on winning at Scunthorpe on Tuesday.
Back to yesterday's game though, and there seemed little chance of a seven goal thriller in the first half as Ian Harte put the Royals ahead with a tremendous free-kick before Forest snatched an equaliser from the spot through Boro reject Kris Boyd. The penalty seemed harsh on the Royals, with Leigertwood making the smallest of contact with Lewis McGugan just inside the area, with the assistant referee flagging for a penalty.
That equaliser gave Forest hope and they finished the first half well, before starting the second in fine fashion with Rob Earnshaw putting them into the lead on fifty one minutes. It would have been easy a few months ago to see a Reading collapse, but not today as Jem Karacan's powerful header somehow squeezed into the net to make it 2-2, before Jimmy Kebe sensationally put us into the lead just after the hour. 3-2 and the momentum was back with us, but McAnuff was lucky not to concede a penalty after bundling down Adebola. Moments later Robson-Kanu did concede a penalty however, making contact with McCleary and allowing McGugan to finish from the spot, 3-3 bugger....
By this point, having lost a load on the national and realising that Reading's good run was probably too good to be true, I have to say I was fearing the final few minutes. Once again Reading made me swallow such pessimism and Karacan's early cross led to a goal mouth scramble with Simon Church grabbing the final key touch to make it 4-3 and send 1,500 Reading fans (and a few thousand at homes across the country) absolutely wild! There was even time for Long to miss a late penalty, but it didn't matter! 4-3 to the Royals.
Results elsewhere meant that when the final whistle blew we were up to fourth and six points clear of seventh, a remarkable achievement for a team that was 10 points adrift of the play-off zone just two months ago. Suddenly even second is within touching distance and at the very least, if we do make the play-offs, we'll be going into them in terrific form.
Credit to Brian for having the guts to change a winning team, as the Royals boss changed back to 4-4-2 with Manset and Leigertwood replacing Tabb and Howard. Leigertwood now hasn't been beaten in 25 league games for QPR and Reading this season and he is going to be such a vital cog in this final promotion push... PLEASE let him stay fit.
It's hard not to feel sorry for Forest fans, who have been teased with promotion dreams of their own over the last 12-18 months. Last year it looked like they'd be promoted only to run into Blackpool in the play-offs, and this year they were chasing second back in February, only to now be a long shot to even make the top six. There's undoubted talent in the team but you wonder if Billy Davies is right to gripe at his club's 'player acquisition board' as the players just seem to have run out of steam, with no reinforcements in sight.
So it's onwards and upwards for Reading who are now four points adrift of second going into Tuesday night's game with struggling Scunthorpe. Scunny shouldn't be underestimated though, as they sensationally beat leaders QPR 4-1 at home yesterday, to keep their slim survival hopes alive.