April 12, 2011
So we won then? Yes! a seventh win on the spin was secured thanks to goals from Shane Long and a penalty from fellow Irishman Ian Harte!
The Team? McCarthy, Griffin, Harte, Khizinishvili, Mills, Leigertwood, Karacan, Kebe (Robson-Kanu), McAnuff, Manset (Church 75), Long.
MOTM: Shane Long, another goal and won the penalty for the second. Where would we be without him this season?!
Another game, another win for the Royals and we're now just three points away from an automatic promotion place! If you'd told me that we'd be in this position after the 1-1 draw with Watford a couple of months back, I'd have slapped you across the face with a wet fish and asked the men in white coats to come and collect you. Thankfully we at the Tilehurst End are not in charge of psychiatric care in this country (not yet anyway) and Brian McDermott has produced one of the most remarkable late promotion charges in this club's history.
But for 45 minutes last night it looked as if maybe the promotion train had run out of steam, as a lathargic and uninspired Royals had to play second fiddle to a team some 17 places behind them and in danger of playing League One football next season. In many ways you couldn't blame the players, who have had to play 'cup final' after 'cup final' as we honed in on the playoffs and during the FA Cup run. Still, that doesn't excuse the dour performance put out by 10 of the 11 players who had been so inspired at Forest just three days previously.
The one change to the starting XI saw team skipper Matt Mills replace club captain Ivar Ingimarsson at the heart of the defence, and Millsy had a good first game back. In fact the defence was generally solid throughout the first half, for as much as Scunthorpe were in the contest, they didn't threaten all that much. Sadly the same could be said for Reading's strikeforce, as Manset, Long, Kebe and McAnuff weren't producing any sort of magic on a bad Glanford Park pitch. Another player who wasn't at his best was Mikele Leigertwood who had perhaps his worst 45 minutes in a Reading shirt, though thankfully his 'worst' is still far from terrible and nothing came of it.
Half time, 0-0 and this is where a manager really earns his money. A week ago Brian McDermott made three key subs that turned the game against Preston and tonight he must have said something magical in the dressing room because Reading came out in the second half energised and it took less then 15 minutes for the hoops to take the lead. Jimmy Kebe's low near post cross was bundled in by Shane Long to the delight of the 400 or so travelling Royals and gave us a vital 1-0 lead. Just six minutes later it was 2-0 with Long bundled down in the box and Ian Harte smashing home the resulting penalty.
The rest of the game was a relatively quiet affair though Jem Karacan was forced off after a nasty looking challenge from Sam Togwell, with Jay Tabb replacing him in midfield. Thankfully after the game Jay Tabb said on BBC Radio Berks that he didn't think it was too serious, and lets all hope so! Kebe could have made it 3-0 late on but saw his effort saved by Joe Murphy in the Scunthorpe goal, no matter 2-0 to the Royals and the promotion bandwagon rolls on!
They often say it's the mark of Champions to win a game where you don't play well and if that's a case then we're well set as we recovered from such a sluggish first 45 to comfortably pick up 3 points.
Sadly for our hosts, tonight's defeat may well have been a final hammer blow to their survival hopes. Six points adrift of survival with an inferior goal difference seems a lot to make up in just five games, still, if they can replicate their performances from Saturday and last night, they'll be well placed to bounce back.
Meantime the great escape (from the Championship) continues for Reading on Saturday when Sven Goran Eriksson's 2004 dream team rolls into town. The Foxes have play-off aspirations of their own and need to take every point available to them to crash the promotion party, so once again we'll be in for a tough game. The thing is, on this form we shouldn't fear anyone and I can't wait for Saturday! URZZZZZ
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