Shane Long - Make mine a double!
9th February 2010
A stoppage time penalty from Shane Long, his second goal of the game, gave the Royals a well deserved win over relegation rivals Plymouth. It looked as if a scrappy Carl Fletcher goal would be enough to earn the visitors a point after he bundled the ball home in the second half but Brian McDermott celebrated his third win in a row as permanent manager.
With Matt Mills suspended Zurab Khizanishvili came in at the heart of the defence and McDermott also opted to switch to a 4-4-2 formation with Simon Church replacing Jimmy Kebe and partnering Shane Long upfront. This left Brian Howard playing a role wide on the left but often cutting in similar to Gylfi Sigurdsson, who remained on the sidelines with a foot injury.
Man of the moment Long forced an early save from Plymouth keeper David Stockdale from a decent cross from Jobi McAnuff. It was the Royals who continued to dominate and Ivar Ingimarsson had a couple of headed opportunities but he could only put them wide.
Simon Church wasted the best chance of the first half when he blazed over after good work from McAnuff again and at the other end New Zealand international striker Rory Fallon wasted the Pilgrims best opening when he headed over. In truth though in was a half to forget!
The second period showed signs in the first couple of minutes that it would be much improved and Jamie Mackie saw a mazy run end with Adam Federici pushing away his effort, and the Aussie keeper had to be alert to keep out the shot from the resulting corner.
Just six minutes in though it was the Royals who took the lead and it was no surprise that it was Long who scored. He raced through the Plymouth defence and finished well for his third goal in three games and he was clearly delighted!
The Royals continued to impose themselves on the game and Howard tested Stockdale with a long ranger before setting up Long again who poked wide this time. However the visitors hit back with a goal that the defence will be really disappointed with when Carl Fletcher managed to score in a crowded penalty area.
It looked as if we had thrown away a couple of points despite throwing everything at Plymouth in the closing stages, Gunnarsson forced Stockdale into a decent save and Howard`s effort was spilled by the on loan Fulham keeper but Long could only hit the post with the follow up.
It was left to sub Hal Robson Kanu to surge into the area and win a stoppage time penalty and it was a decision that favoured the Royals! It was one of those that you are happy to get but furious if it goes against you.
Long stepped up though full of confidence and he sent the keeper the wrong way to secure another valuable three points and bring us closer to safety. Ipswich`s win at QPR kept them above us but our rich vein of form has brought the pack we are chasing closer and come the end of February we could be mid table!
Perhaps I shouldn`t get too carried away just yet!