Irish duo earn fifth consecutive win
25th February 2012
Attendance: 17,314 (271 away)
Goals from Irish duo Noel Hunt and Ian Harte was enough to see the Royals collect a 2-0 victory over play-off chasing Middlesbrough, with the victory being their fifth consecutive one without conceding a single goal.
Royals boss Brian McDermott, who signed a new three-and-a-half year contract in the week, named an unchanged line-up from the side that beat Burnley last Friday. The home side had the better start at the Riverside, passing the ball around well with the Royals struggling to get a hold of it.
Both sides were starting to misplace passes and the fans were becoming increasingly frustrated. However, in the only chance so far in the game, the Royals took the lead. A short corner led to Harte crossing deep for Pearce, who headed across for Noel Hunt to poach home from 5 yards.
This goal really kick-started the visitors, who started to find their feet in the game following the goal. Boro seemed affected by the goal and were becoming very slack, with captain Jobi McAnuff finding a lot of space down the left, but couldn`t profit from these situations.
Middlesbrough started to improve as the half went on, with Rhys Williams almost bypassing the Royals defence but Harte made a good last-ditch tackle. Lukas Jutkiewicz also almost got behind the Reading backline but Pearce and Gorkss nullified the threat.
Jason Roberts has scored in all of his home games so far for Reading but is yet to score away and came close to ending this. Good, flowing play from the Royals gave McAnuff some space on the left flank and his low cross picked out Roberts, but his left-footed effort was blocked.
Despite the home side having the lion`s share of possession in the first half, Brian McDermott`s side were certainly doing the right things with the ball. The second period started in similar fashion to the first with Boro controlling the possession.
Tony Mowbray`s side looked content on getting back into the game, with a dipping effort from Haroun just going over the bar. However, McAnuff almost further the Reading advantage but failed to get a shot away after he was gifted the ball by the Boro defence.
Australian international Rhys Williams then had an effort of his own, but was straight down the throat of Federici. Jason Roberts then had the chance of the game as he shrugged off his defender from a long ball and only had Steele to beat but the keeper blocked his 10 yard effort.
The hosts were starting to turn up the pressure at the Riverside. Lukas Jutkiewicz then had another attempt at goal which Federici hold, then having a header saved from a Barry Robson cross. It was proving to be an end-to-end game as Karacan almost scored the second for the Royals but his effort was blocked and Hunt sent the rebound wide.
On the break, Reading created an opening as Leigertwood played through Roberts who was hacked down by Seb Hines. About 25 yards from goal, set-piece specialist Ian Harte stepped up to strike a superb free-kick and score the second goal Reading were destined for.
Harte`s goal on 80 minutes took the life out of the home side and struggled to create many chances after that. The Royals had a decent shout for a penalty turned down after good play from McAnuff and Roberts but they saw the game out for a superb win and the fifth consecutive victory.
Middlesbrough: Steele, Hoyte, Bates, Hines, Bennett, Williams, Robson, Arca, Haroun, Emnes, Jutkiewicz
Subs: McMahon, Smallwood, Martin, Main, Ogbeche
Reading: Federici, Connolly, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, Kebe, Leigertwood, Karacan, McAnuff, Hunt, Roberts
Subs: Andersen, Tabb, Robson-Kanu, Church, Le Fondre