Le Fondre strikes again as Reading down the Saints
St Mary's Stadium
13th April 2012
Reading took a giant step towards automatic promotion as they defeated Southampton 3-1 at St Mary`s, taking the Royals to the top of the Championship.
Reading manager Brian McDermott made one change to the line-up that beat Brighton three days ago, with Tomasz Cywka dropping out to the returning Jay Tabb in a more defensive outlook. Saints boss Nigel Adkins named an unnamed line up for this game from their victory at Crystal Palace.
In the opening minutes of the game Adam Federici was called into action early, as he had a save from Rickie Lambert`s well-struck half volley. The game was opening up from an early stage and both sides looked keen on getting the ball and making space on the wings.
Southampton started to find their feet as the game progressed, with Adam Lalana looking very lively. The play maker brought Federici into the action again as his deflected effort was kept out well by the Australian, having another effort minutes later which was more comfortable for the Royals keeper.
It was then the Championship`s top scorer Lambert to force Federici into action, as Butterfield`s deep cross was attacked by the forward but the keeper palmed away his header to keep his side in the game. This save turned out to be crucial as Reading went up the other end to score.
Loanee Hayden Mullins did well to get away from two Saints players before spraying the ball out to Jimmy Kebe, whose wonderful cross was headed home by Jason Roberts. The experienced got way from Hooiveld to power his header into the net and give Reading a priceless lead at St Marys.
This goal very much shell-shocked the home side but they continued to press for the equaliser. Adam Lalana`s attempted cross turned into a problem for Federici, forcing the Aussie to tip the ball over. Reading responded as Noel Hunt`s teasing cross just evaded the on-rushing Jimmy Kebe.
Lambert had a half chance in injury time but Fox`s deep cross was just too high to make a decent connection. The second half was going to define the seasons of both of these competitors and it was given an interesting turn just three minutes into the second half.
A throw-in from the left was not read by the Reading defence, allowing Billy Sharp to chest the ball down for Rickie Lambert to volley home, also thanks to a crucial deflection by Kaspars Gorkss. Either way, the Saints were on level terms in this top of the table encounter.
Nigel Adkins side pressed to turn the game on its head, with Richard Chaplow stinging the hands of Federici minutes later. The next twenty minutes was to be a bombardment of Southampton pressure. Lambert tried his luck again on 60 minutes but dragged his effort well wide.
Jason Roberts almost profited from a rare break from the visitors but the former Blackburn striker couldn`t find the right ball. Up the other end, another ball into the Reading area was not dealt with allowing Lalana to make a connection but couldn`t forge his header on target.
However the game defining moment was to occur on 72 minutes, which could prove to be the most pivotal moment in the season so far. Reading broke in pace down the middle, giving Jimmy Kebe space on the right to pull back for Adam Le Fondre to finish emphatically from 12 yards.
Saints struggled to maintain the pressure that they had put on before Le Fondre`s goal, with a sole Danny Butterfield effort easy for Federici. Reading in fact when in search of a third, with captain Jobi McAnuff deflected effort just going wide of Kelvin Davis` goal.
The home side did apply some pressure on the Reading backline but nothing that the best defence in the division couldn`t deal with. The game was sealed into injury time as Adam Le Fondre pounced on a mix up between Fonte and Davis to round the keeper and send Reading into dreamland.
Southampton: Davis, Butterfield, Fonte, Hooiveld, Fox, Chaplow, Hammond, Cork, Lalana, Sharp, Lambert
Subs: Martin, Richardson, Harding, Guly, De Ridder
Reading: Federici, Cummings, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, Kebe, Mullins, Tabb, McAnuff, Hunt, Roberts
Subs: McCarthy, Gunnarsson, Church, Afobe, Le Fondre