Alfie double act gives Royals belief
St. James' Park
19th January 2013
Reading produced another great escape for the second consecutive week, as a brace from substitute Adam Le Fondre secured a crucial three points against Newcastle.
Royals manager Brian McDermott opted to make three changes for this game, with the injured Mikele Leigertwood returning, alongside debutant Stephen Kelly and Garath McCleary, who impressed as a substitute against West Brom last week. Reading have struggled away from home this season and began this encounter on the back foot.
The home side did most of the early pressing and the warning signs were there for the Royals to see, as Cayabe's free kick managed to find defender Mike Williamson in space, but was just taken off his toe by Mikele Leigertwood. Striker Shola Ameobi, who appeared to be playing a wing role, then found space down the right side, but his effort was comfortable for Adam Federici to deal with.
The Australian goalkeeper was then made to work a little harder minutes later, as he did superbly to palm away a free header from the goal-shy Papiss Cissť. Reading were looking very lively on the counter attack and had a great chance to trouble the Magpies backline themselves, as Garath McCleary drove down the left flank and squared to the in-form Pogrebnyak, but the Russian slipped as he hit his effort.
The former Fulham striker was almost to regret missing his chance, as the hosts went up the other end and worked Federici again. Cabaye was proving a thorn in the Royals side and his deflected effort fell kindly to Cisse and his ambitious volley on the turn was handled well by Federici. Alan Padrew's side were firmly on top in his encounter and the brilliance of Federici in the Reading goal was keeping this game goalless.
Papiss Cissť took the Premier League by storm last season, but has struggled to recover the same form this campaign. The Cameroon international would have thought he added to his tally with half an hour gone, but a superb point blanc save from Federici denied the forward - the goalkeeper was keeping Reading in this game. However, the stopper was eventually beaten five minutes later by a piece of quality.
Newcastle won a free kick on the edge of the area, around twenty yards out, which the returning Yohan Cabaye looked the like of. The Frenchman duly stepped up and struck a wonderful effort into the net, to beat the despairing Adam Federici, who could not have done anything about the impeccable effort. You can argue Pardew's side deserved it, but these saves were to become even more crucial.
The second period portrayed more fight from Brian McDermott's side and were almost gifted an equaliser, after Ian Harte's inswinging delivery was deflected just wide of Tim Krul's post by Jonas Gutierrez. Former Newcastle player Danny Guthrie then tried his luck from a free kick twenty yards out, but could not recreate the heorics of his opposite number in Yohan Cabaye.
The majority of the early chances in the second half were falling Reading's way, but were not being gracious enough to take them. Guthrie's lofted ball into the box was nodded down by Jimmy Kebe into the path of Pogrebnyak, but the forward smashed his left-footed drive over the bar. The St James' Park faithful were getting agitated at the lack of chances in the second half and would have more reason to be on 71 minutes.
Reading were enjoying a decent spell of possession in the north-east and found an equaliser, which you could argue they deserved. Mikele Leigertwood picked out Jimmy Kebe on the right with a great ball and the Malian winger drove an enticing ball across goal for substitute Adam Le Fondre to bundle home a priceless equaliser. Just as Reading fans thought a point was good enough, it was to get even better.
A deep cross on the left from Jobi McAnuff was headed back into the mixer by the impressive Jimme Kebe and Hope Akpan's attempted half volley fell gracefully for the feet of the prolific Adam Le Fondre, to slot home confidently from fifteen yards and send the over 1,000 travelling support from Berkshire into equilibrium. It was another incredible turn around from the Royals.
This goal twelve minutes from time gave Newcastle the wake-up call they needed. Cissť didn't have the best of luck in front of goal this game and it was to continue, as Perch's flick in the box fell nicely for the striker, but his effort sailed harmlessly over the bar. The pressing continued from the hosts, but to no avail, with efforts from Ameobi and Obertan not enough for the under-pressure Alan Pardew.
It was a great result and another superb turn around from Reading, but can we afford to be leaving it this late every week? Certainly not. Its also refreshing to see that we have picked up our first away victory of the season, after having the worst record in the country before this game. Who now is without an away win this season? Yes, ac certain Alan Pardew.
Us Reading fans have nothing against Newcastle, but we'll finish with a certain individual. In the words of the Royals fan in the cold, north east today.....
'Pardew, what's the score? Pardew, Pardew, what's the score?'
Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Cabaye, Anita, Gutierrez, Marveaux, Sh Ameobi, Cisse
Subs: Elliot, Perch, Taylor, Bigirimana, Obertan, Sa Ameobi, Ranger
Reading: Federici, Kelly, Pearce, Mariappa, Harte, Leigertwood, Guthrie, McAnuff, McCleary, Kebe, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Gunter, Morrison, Akpan, Karacan, Le Fondre, Hunt