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Reading 4-1 Doncaster: Four-tune favours the Royals

While it wasn't quite the 'smashing' that my fellow TTE podcast co-host Jonny predicted, this was still a very good win for Reading who put together some very good passages of play to beat an unpredictable Doncaster side 4-1. Four Reading players got on the scoresheet as Nigel Adkins side moved back up into the play-off places.

Reading: Federici, Bridge, Morrison, Peaerce, Gunter; Obita (McAnuff), Baird, Guthrie (Akpan), McCleary; Le Fondre (Robson-Kanu), Pogrebnyak

Coming into the game there were high hopes that our rather lengthy injury list would have cleared up over the two week break but sadly Reading were still without the likes of Royston Drenthe, Danny Williams and Billy Sharp, plus goalkeeper Alex McCarthy who picked up a knee injury in training.

That meant a recall for Adam Federici in goal, while Garath McCleary returned from injury to replace Jobi McAnuff as the only other change to the eleven that lost up at Burnley a fortnight ago.

Donny came into the game with a decent defensive record, having only conceding nine in their last nine games but that record seemed hard to believe given some of the calamitous defending witnessed during an opening 20 minutes that saw Reading utterly dominate proceedings.

Jordan Obita twice could have been on the scoresheet before Reading got the breakthrough they deserved after 11 minutes. Pavel Pogrebnyak's drive down the left ended in a cutback to Garath McCleary who put the ball into the path of Danny Guthrie, with the midfielder hitting a well placed shot into the top corner.

At this point you started dreaming of that elusive smashing we've been hoping for all season and once again Jordan Obita came close to scoring when his poke from a Le Fondre header looked destined for the net, only to be swept off the line. Pogrebnyak also went close, with his strong header just inches over Ross Turnbull's bar.

With Donny very much under pressure, their manager Paul Dickov decided to change things up, throwing on striker Theo Robinson for midfielder Dean Furman just 20 minutes in. Almost immediately the visitors began to claw their way back into the game and as Reading's defence began to lose its shape, Alex Pearce was caught backtracking and conceded a handball right on the edge of the box. Federici saved well from Mark Duffy's free-kick but the defence failed to track Robinson who smashed home from close range.

Reading failed to muster much of an immediate response and most would concede that Adam Le Fondre's goal eight minutes later probably came against the run of play. An incisive pass from McCleary found Le Fondre who excellently managed a tiny poke over the onrushing Turnbull, with the ball slowly trickling over the line just inside the post.

2-1 at half time and Donny again looked the better side in the opening five minutes, flashing a couple of shots just past Federici's goal.

But after that initial second half pressure, Reading slowly got back up to pace, pushing Doncaster back and nearly scoring a third after Chris Gunter found Le Fondre in the middle of the box, only for Alfie's header to miss the target.

The decisive moment of the second-half came when Doncaster captain Rob Jones crashed into the post, apparently breaking his arm in the process. Dickov had already used his three subs so they were forced to play on with ten-men and it didn't take long for Reading to take advantage. Substitute Hal Robson-Kanu cut back a ball from the left aiming for fellow sub Jobi McAnuff, only for McAnuff to miss the ball entirely and see it roll into the path of McCleary who nonchalantly drove the ball into the far corner with the outside of his boot.

From there it was game over really and neither team was particularly thrilled with seven minutes of stoppage time that was given due to Jones injury. One player who made good use of the extra time was Pogrebnyak who lashed home a late fourth for Reading, the least he deserved after a very impressive performance.

You can find my player ratings herebut overall this was a pleasing if not a top quality display from Reading. The first 20 minutes were awesome but you have to ask why they suddenly dropped off from that level, though Dickov does deserve credit for changing things up.

Reading failed to really take advantage of that great opening spell but again credit to the team for finishing Doncaster off after they were down to 10 men and more importantly for grabbing the vital second just before the break.

As far as Donny are concerned they looked OK especially when Robinson came on but they were an average side at best that will struggle to pick up too many points away from home with performances like that. Former Royals loanee Bongani Khumalo was among the starting XI and he also did OK after a rocky first 20.

Once again I'm left writing about a Reading team that's managed to win despite not getting out of second gear but I tend to view that as a good omen rather than a bad one. If we do get the likes of Drenthe, Williams, Sharp and Roberts fit then the competition and options available to Nigel Adkins will be fantastic and there's no reason the team shouldn't go on to really compete for a top two spot.

Right now I don't think they're quite there but as we all know, you only need to be around the top 8 or so into the spring and then anything can happen.

Overall a good day, good result and something we can very much build on.

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