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Reading FC 3-0 Fulham: Rampant Royals Thrash Hopeless Fulham

Reading made short work of a woeful Fulham outfit on a sunny day at the Madejski Stadium. Two goals from Glenn Murray and one from sub Nick Blackman wrapped up a 3-0 win for the Royals against an opposition who played 70 minutes with 10-men after debutant Matt Smith was sent off. Reading played some of their best football under Nigel Adkins but time must surely be up for Fulham boss Felix Magath after his side put in an absolutely dreadful display.

Martin Willetts

Reading: Federici; Obita, Pearce, Hector, Gunter; Norwood, Akpan (Edwards); Mackie (Blackman), Cox, Taylor; Murray (Pogrebnyak)

The bad news was that despite a two-week international break Nigel Adkins still came into this game faced with a lengthy injury list. The good news was that new loan signing Glenn Murray was available to start up front, while both Pavel Pogrebnyak and Nick Blackman were also fit enough to take spots on the bench. The only other change from the 1-0 win up at Middlesbrough saw Hope Akpan replace Ryan Edwards who dropped to the bench alongside Aaron Kuhl who made way for Murray.

Fulham boasted a side that included £11 million pound signing Ross McCormack as well as former England midfielder Scott Parker but they looked anything but a team who many tipped for promotion, with the very term team being applied in the loosest sense.

It took Murray just 15 minutes to make his mark in front of the home fans as he got on the end of a fantastic Jordan Obita cross from the left to beat Gabor Kiraly in the Fulham net.

In a bid to get the most out of McCormack, Magath had signed his former Leeds strike partner Matt Smith on deadline day. Unfortunately for the German his new forward would last just 18 minutes before he was shown a straight red card after lunging in one footed with his studs showing on Hope Akpan. Referee Mike Jones sprinted over to give Smith his marching orders and while you'd argue it might be a slightly harsh dismissal, you give the referee that chance when you lunge in like that.

Reading made the most of their man advantage by slowly turning the screw against a Fulham side who struggled to show any type of fight. The best they could manage was a pot-shot from Chris David that was well parried by Adam Federici while their entire day was best summed up by a free-kick routine that saw three dummy runs before Ross McCormack slammed his effort straight into the wall.

Chris Gunter, Oliver Norwood, Jake Taylor and Glenn Murray all had half-chances as the first half drew to a close as Reading went into the half-time interval to rapturous applause from the home fans, while Fulham trudged off to boos from the 3,000 or so travelling supporters.

The only blot on an otherwise fantastic first half was the fact that Reading didn't go in by more than a single goal. Oliver Norwood put in a fabulous performance on his full home debut, with the midfielder's range of passing simply exquisite. He's the type of player that's crucial for the Adkins' style to succeed and is the type of midfielder we've been badly missing since Danny Guthrie lost form and then fitness around Christmas last season.

Into the second half and Reading continued to pile on the pressure with Simon Cox missing a glorious chance from ten yards out as Kiraly pushed his shot away, while the Fulham keeper was soon forced into another smart save to deny Taylor.

That Taylor effort led to a sequence of three successive corners and on the third, Obita's set piece found Murray who scored his second of the afternoon and all but end the game as a contest.

Both home and away fans took the chance to serenade the sulking Magath with a chorus of 'you're getting sacked in the morning' as the game slowly lost its impetus but there was still time for substitute Nick Blackman to round Kiraly and add a third to put the gloss on a very good Reading performance.

This was perhaps the best we've seen Reading style wise since that first 45 minutes against Watford in the late summer sunshine last year, and while the thumpings of Bolton and Blackpool were very satisfying, this was perhaps even more encouraging for the long-term health of the club. Our passing this afternoon was exceptional, with Norwood putting in an early case to be dubbed the Championship's Pirlo while even Hope Akpan put in a good passing performance.

As for Murray, he was everything we hoped we'd be getting, with his hold up play, work rate and finishing ability all first-class this afternoon. If you were being overly critical then perhaps his touch was perhaps slightly shaky at times but that's no more than you'd expect from a player who's struggled to get regular game time since a serious injury. If this is what he can produce now, you can only drool at the thought of what he might be able to do after a few more games or when players like Garath McCleary, Danny Williams and Danny Guthrie return and start feeding him.

However it's important that we do try and keep our feet on the ground...

Fulham were an absolute shambles of a side who spent two thirds of the game down to ten-men and I'd be stunned if Magath makes it through to Monday morning in charge of the West London side. The only entertaining aspect of the away team's performance were those signature grey tracksuit bottoms sported by Kiraly and a lively cameo from young Patrick Roberts who looks a very promising player indeed.

This was Reading's third successive win in all competitions and it's now been nearly five hours since Adam Federici conceded a goal. With the club's injuries slowly clearing up it certainly feels as if the team is heading in the right direction but if we follow today's performance up with a disappointing display against Millwall then today will count for little.

We'll have full player ratings up later this weekend but for now let's just bask in the glow of a wonderful result.