Royals finish with a flourish
2nd May 2010
The Royals went out on a high, thrashing Preston in a one sided game at the Madejski Stadium. Jimmy Kebe and Jobi McAnuff put us 2-0 up at the break before a wonderful free kick from Ross Wallace halved the deficit. Gylfi Sigurdsson restored the two goal advantage before sub Simon Church wrapped it up at the death with another stunning goal.
Brian McDermott was forced into one change after last weekend`s defeat to Watford; Zurab Kizhanishvili was injured so Alex Pearce came into the starting 11. Grzegorz Rasiak was also out with a knock picked up in training so young strikers Nicholas Bignall and Jake Taylor were on the bench.
It was obvious from the first whistle that who was going to dominate the game and it came as no surprise when we took the lead, the first of a number of wonderful goals in this game. Jimmy Kebe picked the ball up on the right wing, just beating Tommy Williams to the ball, before ghosting past three half hearted challenges and scoring with a low drive into the bottom corner.
We continue to press and good work from Jay Tabb saw the ball eventually find its way out left to Jobi McAnuff who ran at the defender. He cut back inside and from the edge of the area found the back of the net with a brilliant shot.
A combination of good goalkeeping and poor finishing kept it at 2-0 at the break but how Gylfi Sigurdsson and Shane Long failed to score at least once each, I will never know. Pearce also had a decent header well saved but some of the defending from the visitors was embarrassing.
The second period failed to live up to the first for long periods, however that all changed after the hour when the Royals gave away a silly free kick 35 yards out. There appeared to be no immediate danger but Ross Wallace smashed the ball into the top corner, giving Adam Federici no chance. It was the goal of the game and that is some feat considering the two that had already been scored.
But just when we needed our star player to step up to the plate, Sigurdsson did just that after a neat turn saw him find space in the area and his low effort went in off the post. It was the Icelandic midfielder`s 20th goal of an incredible season.
Andy Griffin went off before the end to a standing ovation from the home support, with 19,000 fans on their feet applauding the on loan Stoke man. Chants of 'Griffin for England` had turned to 'Griffin for Reading` as the loyal Royals desperately want to see him sign permanently at the Madejski Stadium in the summer.
In stoppage time sub Simon Church did his best to try and eclipse Wallace`s earlier striker, smashing home a fantastic volley into the top corner after watching the ball bounce over his shoulder. He went wild and it was a great way to end the season for the Welshman, who has regularly found the net despite having to play second fiddle to Shane Long.
The afternoon ended with the players going on a lap of appreciation with the biggest cheer reserved for Brian McDermott who took to the pitch with Chairman John Madejski. Hopefully over the summer they can build a squad capable of promotion, and that doesn`t just mean signing players. We need to keep hold of the likes of Sigurdsson and Kebe because their performances in the second half of this season have been phenomenal.