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Reading 5-1 Blackpool: Alfie's Three-peat performance

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Before last week's win over Bolton, Reading had managed just 12 goals in their last eight at home, but Reading made it 12 in 2 tonight, as Blackpool were demolished 5-1 at the Madejski Stadium. Once again Adam Le Fondre left with the match ball after another fine hat-trick as Nigel Adkins side kept up their play-off push.

Reading: McCarthy, Obita, Gorkss (Hector), Pearce, Gunter, McAnuff (Blackman), Williams, Akpan, McCleary, Pogrebnyak, Le Fondre (Robson-Kanu)

Nigel Adkins once again kept faith with the same starting XI that had started the last three games and his faith was rewarded within the opening 10 minutes as Adam Le Fondre finished a smart move between himself, Pavel Pogrebnyak and Garath McCleary to put the Royals ahead.

Earlier in the season that might have been it for Reading (see Charlton, Millwall) but this rejuvenated side kept pressing and soon the lead had been doubled with that man Le Fondre once again in the right place at the right time to get on the end of Alex Pearce's header at the back post.

Managerless Blackpool looked shell shocked and you had to feel for the few hundred hearty tangerines who'd made the long trip down to Berkshire. Fortunately for them they didn't have any more heartache in the first half but they didn't have much to cheer either, bar a couple of free-kicks in promising positions around the box, all of which Alex McCarthy dealt with easily.

Blackpool caretaker manager Barry Ferguson made a double switch at half-time but it was Reading who remained firmly on top. Jobi McAnuff performed an outrageous flick on the left that set him free on goal, only to be denied by visiting goalkeeper Matt Gilks.

The Royals fans didn't have to wait too much longer for the third though, with Pavel Pogrebnyak getting on the end of Alfie's through ball to score his second in three games.

Credit to Blackpool who still kept going, bringing on former Royal Nathan Tyson but his only notable moment was earning a booking 10 seconds after being introduced.

Blackpool did get a goal though and it was probably the goal of the night. Steve Davies turning quickly before lashing the ball home from around 35 yards and leaving McCarthy with little chance.

Le Fondre wasn't to be denied a hat-trick though, and some excellent work from the influential McCleary sent him through on goal, with the former Rotherham striker finishing well past Gilks to end any hopes of a Blackpool comeback. Le Fondre became the first Reading player to score back-to-back hat-tricks at home since Kevin Doyle back in 2008.

Hal Robson-Kanu made a welcome return from injury replacing Le Fondre and the Welsh international immediately produced a fine save from Gilks as Reading continued to push forward. He looked fresh and raring to go and his enthusiasm was rewarded with a goal on 82 minutes as he also found the net from outside the box.

Reading seemed happy to settle for five on a heavy pitch and with Millwall to come on Saturday you can excuse them maybe not pushing harder for even more goals, it's safe to say few in blue and white left the Madejski with anything but a smile.

While the scoreline was fantastic it was made even better by seeing players really start to express themselves and enjoying their football again. Players looked happy to take men on, to try something different and seemed to want the ball at every opportunity. Sure there were a few mistakes, passes misplaced or wrong options taken but you can get away with those when you're creating 10 chances a game. Earlier in the season Reading were relying on getting one great chance and taking it, before relying on McCarthy heroics but now they're on the front foot and imposing their style on teams, rather than adapting game-to-game to try and get an extra 1%.

There's a link to a full set of player ratings below so please head there for some more analysis on individual displays.

If Reading continue to play like this and manage to get reinforcements either through players returning from injury, loans or buys then there's no reason this team shouldn't be a play-off side come May.

Throughout the season we've been talking about a lack of smiles on the pitch and in the stands and after probably 18 months of mediocrity we're finally seeing the shoots of a new era spring up.

Now, just the small matter of winning at the New Den.......