Our Team of the Decade has got a tight defence. It’s got an energetic midfield. Now we just need some goals. And who better to be the first man to provide them than Adam Le Fondre, the club’s top scorer from the last ten years. He topped the strikers vote in our poll with 76.1% of you picking him for your team. You can find out who was selected to partner him upfront later on today.
Le Fondre made the jump from League Two to the Championship when he moved to Reading from Rotherham in the summer of 2012, hoping to make an impact on a side that were suffering a slight hangover following defeat in the previous season’s play-off final and the sale of Shane Long.
In a sign of things to come, his first goal for the club came as a substitute against Doncaster, and as the season wore on, Brian McDermott used Alfie more and more as an impact player off the bench - in the fact the only league game he started from January onwards was on the final day against Birmingham City. Reading had of course already confirmed promotion and the Championship title by then, with Le Fondre scoring 12 goals in the process.
Despite playing in the fourth tier just a year earlier, Le Fondre adapted well to life in the Premier League. He scored Reading’s first goal back in the top-flight with a penalty against Stoke City on the opening day and hit the back of the net twice in our first win of the season, 2-1 against Everton.
January 2013 was arguably his best period in a Reading shirt, as he took the term ‘super sub’ to a whole new level. Le Fondre came off the bench to score the equaliser in the dramatic 3-2 comeback win over West Brom, a brace to defeat Newcastle United 2-1 and a 95th minute equaliser to make it 2-2 against Chelsea. Needless to say, his goals won him the Player of the Month award. He ended the campaign with 12 goals from just 11 league starts, with eight of that tally being scored as a substitute.
Back in the Championship, Alfie continued to be the Royals’ main attacking threat, top scoring for the third season in a row with 15 goals in 25 league starts. January was again a particularly fruitful month as he scored two hat-tricks in three games as Reading beat Bolton Wanderers 7-1 and Blackpool 5-1.
However as Reading’s financial difficulties hit a peak in the summer of 2014, the club were forced to sell Le Fondre in order to stay afloat, and he departed to Cardiff City for a reported £3 million. In total, the striker scored 41 goals in 110 appearances (59 starts) for the Royals.
Memorable moment: Down Southampton on a Friday night...
Having won an incredible 13 of their last 15 games, Reading travelled to promotion rivals Southampton on a Friday night in April 2012 knowing that victory would all but secure a top-flight return. What followed was one of the most magical away days ever, and, quite possibly, the game of the decade.
Jason Roberts headed home from close range in the first half before Rickie Lambert equalised just after the break, but it was the arrival of super sub Le Fondre onto the field in the 64th minute that changed the game. Within eight minutes he had put the Royals back in front, emphatically smashing a Jimmy Kebe cut back into the roof of the net.
As Southampton pushed for an equaliser, Le Fondre grabbed his second in the 92nd minute to put the result beyond doubt. Latching onto to a weak header by Jose Fonte, he calmly rounded Kelvin Davis in the Saints goal and put the ball in the back of the net, causing pandemonium in the away end. An unforgettable match, which would set Reading up to confirm promotion against Nottingham Forest four days later.