Cox goal secures good away victory for Royals
Saturday 30th August 2014
Attendance: 14,970 (242 away)
Simon Cox's early goal secured a very welcome three points for a Reading side depleted by injuries, as they were victorious at Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon.
Nigel Adkins has had to deal with a recent injury crisis, but was given a few boosts for this one, as Obita and Hector were fit to start the game, but ten first team players were still out injured. There was also a first start for Oliver Norwood, who signed from Huddersfield last week and started. We were thrashed the last time we visited the Riverside and the home side`s start had the making of a repeat of that.
Boro striker Kike had a glimpse of goal early on, as a well worked free-kick allowed the Spaniard a yard to shoot, but his shot wasn`t troubling Adam Federici. The Aussie keeper was troubled a minute later though, as Adomah found space on the right side after a smart pass from Tomlin, but Feders produced a great fingertip save to deny Boro an opener - it was one-way traffic at the Riverside.
The opener came on seven minutes, but against the run of play, as we took the lead in the game, in what was our first meaningful attack. Norwood switched the play to the right side and neat interchange between Ryan Edwards and Simon Cox, allowed the forward to run in on goal and cheap the onrushing Mejias. As I said, was against the run of play, but gave us something to hang on to.
This goal seemed to give us the kick start we needed, as we were having good spells of possession in the opening twenty minutes, keeping the ball away from the home side. Simon Cox tried his luck in speculator fashion again, this time firing in a 30-yard volley towards the Boro goal, but the keeper held well. Boro struggled to regain the rhythm they had in the opening five minutes, but did slowly improve.
Grant Leadbitter scored a belter in the 3-0 defeat at the Riverside last season and nearly repeated those heroics, but dropped just wide of Federici`s post. Tomlin was the next player to try his luck from range and despite being on target, Feders held it. It was becoming the Adam Federici show, as he then saved Kike`s firm header, before blocking from the Spaniard again, in what was becoming an intriguing battle.
The Boro pressure on our goal was increasing and Kike had a great chance in injury time, as the forward was unmarked from Leadbitter`s corner, but his connection was poor and it went wide - a good chance for a forward of his ability. The Royals went in at half-time with a narrow advantage and one they probably wouldn`t have expected before the game - a strong and resilient second half was needed.
We won a free-kick out on the right early on, but Boro broke away following a poor delivery from Norwood, but Adomah`s finishing was once again wasteful. Reading trying their best to slow the game down, stopping Boro from getting any momentum going, with the introduction of Hope Akpan for Aaron Kuhl giving a clear indication of how Adkins wants to sit back and break up the home side`s flow.
We weren`t putting together too many attacks, but when we did, they were very easy on the eye. Akpan and Norwood linked up well to feed Edwards on the right wing, but his inviting ball in wasn`t attacked by a Royals player - much to the frustration of the manager. The post soon came to our rescue though, as Gunter unknowingly deflected a cross onto the woodwork, before eventually being cleared away.
The departure of Alex McCarthy has certainly been made easier by the form of Adam Federici and the keeper once again proved his abilities between the sticks, palming away Adomah`s goalbound header. Boro`s pressure was eased by a resilient Royals side after this, as Adkins brought on young Jake Cooper to bolster the defence and give some needed aerial presence to stop any direct Boro attacks.
You had a horrible feeling that Boro would get one last chance and they did as injury time approached - a ball driven across the goalmouth was somehow not converted into the net by Kike, who would have been shocked he didn`t score. The home side forced a few corners, but a young Royals side stayed very resilient and saw the game out to secure a priceless three points away from home.
Not many expected us to get anything from this game when you considered our injury crisis, but what a victory it was for Adkins` men. The win takes us up to 15th, but the table is still very much wide open going into the international break, which is at a very good time for us. We need to use these two weeks off to not only get players fit, but add to the squad in the transfer and loan window.
Middlesbrough - 4-2-3-1: Mejias; Abella, Hines, Omeruo, Friend; Clayton, Leadbitter; Adomah, Tomlin, Reach; Kike.
Subs: Konstantopoulos, Gibson, Ayala, Whitehead, Williams, Ledesma, Bamford.
Reading - 4-2-3-1: Federici; Gunter, Pearce, Hector, Obita; Kuhl, Norwood; Mackie, Edwards, Taylor; Cox.
Subs: Andersen, Long, Cooper, Akpan, Fosu, Stacey, Tanner.