Royals take the points in five-goal thriller
Friday 29th November 2013
Despite a second-half fightback from Nottingham Forest, Reading were 3-2 victors at the City Ground last night.
Nigel Adkins made two changes to the side that fought out a stalemate with Blackburn last week, with one being enforced in an injury suffered to Chris Baird in training, meaning Danny Williams came in for his first start in over two months. The other change was a tactical one, as Adam Le Fondre was dropped to the bench for the returning Hal Robson-Kanu, reverting to a familiar 4-2-3-1 formation.
Reading have developed a habit of starting games very slowly and have got the majority of their goals in the second half - it wasn`t the case at the City Ground tonight though! Garath McCleary received a few jeers from the home fans on his first return since leaving Forest last year, but after an early shot going wayward, he certainly lit up the fixture early on.
The winger found a pocket of space on the right wing and provided a fantastic cross to the back post for Russian striker Pavel Pogrebnyak to tap home, just ten minutes into the game. The pressure continued from the visitors and a second deservedly game, as Kaspars Gorkss, who missed a great chance at Blackburn last week, met Danny Guthrie`s well-delivered corner with a great header.
Forest looked shell shocked at start from Reading, who were two up just 12 minutes into the game. Billy Davies` side were struggling to get a stranglehold of possession, something which he wouldn`t have been used to so far this campaign. The hosts did have a rare verge forward after a hopeful clearance was latched on by Paterson, but former Forest defender Chris Gunter cleared up.
A few former Reading players were in the opposition squad, one was Simon Cox and he came very close to reducing the deficit to just one goal, but Gunter made a superb block to deny the forward a goal against his old side. It was arguably Reading`s best attacking display in a half all season, as McCleary tried his luck again, after a neat interchange with Danny Williams.
Henri Lansbury has been one of Forest`s best players this season, as well as being their top goal scorer and had a decent effort just before half time, curling an effort just wide of goal from the edge of the box. Forest were getting into the game and snatched one back five minutes before the break, as Simon Cox tapped in at the back post in a similar fashion to Pog`s goal.
Forest could not have got any worse than they played in the first half and they certainly didn`t, as they started the second period like a house on fire. Former Royals striker Darius Henderson was brought on at half time by Billy Davies and had Forest`s first effort of the half and it was a close one too, as his 20-yard strike just went over McCarthy`s bar.
Jordan Obita had to be aware in his defensive duties to block a goal-bound Jamie Mackie effort, before the home side earned their leveller on the hour mark. Darius Henderson likes scoring against his old side and was at his again, as a one-two with Lansbury got the ball back into his path, dodging a challenge from Gorkss, before finishing well into the net.
The pressure from Forest was becoming relentless for Reading and they should have completed the comeback five minutes later, as Mackie was sent clean through by Cox, but could only hit the bar. Reading were starting to whether the storm, but if any side was going to score, it looked as if it was going to be the home side, who looked rejuvenated after the break.
This crazy game did get slightly crazier though, as a fifth goal was scored, as Reading retook the lead, thanks to Jordan Obita`s first professional goal for Reading. McCleary again was the architect as his low ball across the penalty area found its way to the 19-year old, who first touch and finish was slightly scrappy, deflecting off the keeper into the roof of net, but he won`t care one bit!
The home side had worked tremendously hard to get back into the game, but Obita`s hammer blow may have taken all the wind out of their sails. Alex Pearce would have been disappointed not to have done better with a chance from a corner minutes later, scuffing his effort wide of goal. It would be a nervy last ten minutes though for the Royals, as Chris Gunter picked up a second booking against his former side.
With Forest pushing numbers forward, Reading were a threat on the break and substitute Jobi McAnuff broke forward and supplied the ball to Danny Williams, with his effort being saved comfortably by Darlow. Danny Guthrie had to make a fantastic block from a firm effort from Cox in the dying stages to secure a vital three points for Reading.
The victory means Reading leapfrog Forest and go into fourth place, albeit prematurely depending on other results in the Championship later today. Either way, hopefully it will keep the Adkins-haters quiet for a while and look at how he does a decent job with a team plagued by injuries and a lack of backing from a board, which is clearly lacking in clarity at the moment.
Forest - 4-2-3-1: Darlow, Lichaj, Hobbs, Lascelles, Harding, Jara, Majewski, Paterson, Lansbury, Mackie, Cox
Subs: de Vries, Halford, Andoun, Chabolah, Reid, Derbyshire Henderson
Reading - 4-2-3-1: McCarthy, Gunter, Pearce, Gorkss, Kelly, Guthrie, Williams, McCleary, Robson-Kanu, Obita, Pogrebnyak
Subs: Federici, Cummings, Akpan, McAnuff, Blackman, Le Fondre, Sharp