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Lukaku goal sends Royals bottom

West Brom
1 - 0

The Hawthorns

22nd September 2012

Attendance: 23,973


A Romelo Lukaku goal was enough for West Brom as they beat a struggling Reading side, who now find themselves bottom of the league.

Royals boss Brian McDermott made one change to the side that was beaten 3-1 by Tottenham last Sunday, with former Baggies left back Nicky Shorey and Adam Le Fondre coming into the team. The game endured a slow start at the Hawthorns, with both sides having decent spells of possession, but neither outfit could tell for their pressure.

McDermott decided to stick in goal with young Alex McCarthy and he was straight into action in the opening exchanges, saving well down to his right to deny James Morrison opening the scoring. The Baggies continued to press the Royals back line, but the Reading defence stood strong and kept the hosts at bay.

Winger Garath McCleary had the first shot on target for the visitors, a very audacious over-head kick attempt, which was well held by former England international Ben Foster. The best chance then fell for Albion minutes later, as James Morrison had space and time in the box to test McCarthy, but dragged his shot disappointingly wide.

Just when the Royals thought they were going in level at half time comfortably, there was a late bombardment on their goal from Steve Clarke's side. Firstly, Lukaku seemed to find himself through on goal, but a great last-ditch challenge from Welsh international Gunter stopped him. Then from the resulting corner, Albion hit the bar from an Olsson looping header.

Reading looked more determined in the second period, showing more quality going forward with Le Fondre and Pogrebynak. However, Alex McCarthy was called into action again as he had to palm away an impressive volley from the dangerous Morrison ten minutes into the second half.

The Reading-academy graduate was brought into action again, as he raced out of his area well to deny Lukaku a clear-scoring opportunity. The match continued to prove end to end at the Hawthorns, with neither side creating any clear cut chances and the feeling that one goal may just win it crept in and proved to be the case.

The Royals failed to clear a loose ball well enough and substitute Shane Long won an aerial battle with Alex Pearce and nodded down for Romelu Lukaku to smash home from the edge of the area to give Albion a 71st minute lead. Reading looked deflated and looked as if they were running out of answers.

Despite a header from substitute Hal Robson-Kanu just going over Ben Foster's bar, it was another frustrating result for Reading who are still looking for their first Premier League win. West Brom however have propelled themselves into third place, in what is their best start ever to a Premier League season.

West Brom: Foster, Jones, Olsson, McCauley, Ridgewell, Yacob, Mulumbu, Gera, Morrison, Brunt, Lukaku
Subs: Myhill, Dawson, Dorrans, Jara, Fortune, Long, Rosenberg

Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Shorey, McCleary, Guthrie, Leigertwood, McAnuff, Le Fondre, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Mariappa, Cummings, Karacan, Robson-Kanu, Hunt, Church

Star Player

Alex McCarthy - Made two very important saves from Morrison and showed great improvement from the Spurs game. Much better decision making and distribution. Definitely the biggest positive from a Royals perspective.

Date:Sunday September 23 2012
Time: 12:40AM

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