Relegated Royals put on fine display
4th May 2013
Nigel Adkins picked up his first win as Reading boss against Fulham today, as the Royals put in a superb showing to win 4-2 at Craven Cottage.
Royals boss Nigel Adkins opted to make one unforced change from the team that drew with QPR last weekend, with Nick Blackman departing for Hal Robson-Kanu, who has returned to full fitness. It was a frantic start at Craven Cottage, as the ever-improving Alex McCarthy was forced into action early on to deny an onrushing Bryan Ruiz from Duff`s cross, but the keeper made a good save with his legs.
After this early fright, Reading did not look like a side that had been relegated last week, as they were passing the ball about well in West London, keeping good possession of the ball. It was this solid play that led to the Royals` opening goal too, as John Arne Riise`s clumsy challenge in the box on Hal Robson-Kanu was penalised by referee Neil Swarbrick.
The Welsh international stepped up to stroke it beyond Mark Schwarzer and give Reading their first Premier League lead in three months. Reading did not switch off and continued to retain possession of the ball. However, the home side almost got a route back into the game as Alex McCarthy was almost caught out by Dimitar Berbatov`s header, but the keeper recovered to claim it.
Martin Jol`s side were improving in the latter stages of the first half and forced young McCarhy into another decent save, as Hugo Rodallega`s point blanc effort from five yards was well blocked by the keeper who is reportedly attracting interest from the Cottagers. Nigel Adkins would have been very pleased at his side`s performance in the first period of the game.
The second half continued to be dominated by the away side, who had only picked up one away win on their travels this season. Karacan was inches away from giving the Royals a two goal cushion, as McAnuff`s smart reverse ball gave the midfielder a chance, but Schwarzer was quick to deny him. Fulham went up the other end and Rodallega`s good turn and shot forced McCarthy to make a good catch.
Adkins` side looked like they were playing without any pressure on them and it proving on the pitch, playing with confidence and the end product. Pogrebnyak would have been wondering how he didn`t double the lead, as Schwarzer made a mess of Robson-Kanu`s deflected shot and the Russian had an open goal, but a duo of defenders thwarted the former Fulham defender.
Despite missing this chance, the Royals did instate a two goal lead and deservedly so at Craven Cottage. Guthrie`s long clearance fell very kindly to McCleary on the left wing and his poor cross was picked up by the impressive Robson-Kanu and the forward cut inside and placed his effort beyond Schwarzer to give Reading a surprise, yet deserved lead.
The game from this goal was to explode into life. The hosts managed to get themselves back into the game thanks to a good exchange between Hugo Rodallega and Bryan Ruiz and the Costa Rican slotted it through McCarthy`s legs to give them hope of getting something from the game. It looked like we would in for a superb final twenty minutes to the game and it didn`t disappoint.
Substitute Adam Le Fondre has been disappointed with his lack of starts under Adkins, but would have given his manager something to think about, as the striker latched onto Jem Karacan`s delicious ball, to round Schwarzer and slot the ball home from a tight angle. The tide was to turn again minutes later, as Bryan Ruiz reduced the deficit again with a header from five yards.
The game did not have much in terms of importance, but the openness of the fixture suggested otherwise. Rodallega was very unlucky to not level the scores, as he attacked Berbatov`s cross with a superb volley, but came out off the crossbar. For the third time, Reading had their two-goal cushion reinstated, as Jem Karacan buried the ball home with a fine left-footed effort from the edge of the box.
Fulham threatened to reduce the away side`s lead once again, with Rodallega`s header firstly causing problems, then Reading somehow denied the former Wigan man from scoring with some heroics on the line from Sean Morrison and Alex McCarthy. It was a fascinating second period that drew to a conclusion with Nigel Adkins getting his first win as Reading boss.
Vital Reading verdict: A great performance from the boys, a thoroughly deserved win against a decent side. We kept the ball superbly and the way Adkins has set us out to play really shone today, he deserved great credit for turning this team around, albeit too late! Gunter, Morrison, Jem, Robson-Kanu and McAnuff all had a superb game.
Fulham - 4-4-1-1: Schwarzer, Reither, Senderos, Hangeland, Riise, Duff, Karagounis, Enoh, Emanuelson, Ruiz, Berbatov
Subs: Etherige, Frimpong, Richardson, Hughes, Rodallega, Manolev, Kacaniklic
Reading - 4-2-3-1: McCarthy, Gunter, Mariappa, Morrison, Kelly, Karacan, Guthrie, McAnuff, Robson-Kanu, McCleary, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Taylor, Harte, Pearce, Carrico, Blackman, Hunt, Le Fondre
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