Murray at the double in dream Royals debut
Saturday 13th September 2014
A very good Reading performance heaped more misery on lowly Fulham, who now drop to the bottom of the Championship, after losing 3-0 at the Madejski Stadium.
Nigel Adkins gave a debut to Glenn Murray, who signed from Palace on deadline day, while there was also a home debut for Oliver Norwood. We were buoyed off the back of two consecutive victories and started well in this one, moving the ball about well, as Norwood was looking to make an early impression in the centre of midfield, with the likes of Karacan, Williams and Guthrie still out injured at the moment.
Despite our early possession in the opening stages, we couldn`t conjure any decent openings which Murray thrives on - instead it was the winless visitors that had the first decent chance. Ross McCormack did well to control a ball in the penalty area and with his back to goal, managed to turn and volley an effort at goal, but looped over the bar - the eleven million pound man doesn`t have the best record against us.
The first goal came minutes later though and it was a dream debut for Glenn Murray, whose diving header put the Royals in front, after superb work down the left from Jordan Obita, who gave the right-back a torrid afternoon. Another striker making his debut in this game was Matt Smith, but it only lasted eighteen minutes, as the former Leeds striker saw red for a late lunge on Hope Akpan, after he took a poor first touch.
It was hard to say in real time whether it deserved a sending off from referee Mike Jones, but it was clearly a challenge out of frustration. The majority of possession was now with the home side, it was just a matter of breaking down Fulham, who responded to being a man down by sitting much deeper. Murray managed to beat the offside trap down the right and passed across for Jake Taylor, but couldn`t make good connection.
The away side were now resorting to playing on the break and despite playing a narrow system, did have a few promising verges forward. The lively Chris David had an effort well-saved by Adam Federici, who was making his 200th league start for the Royals. It was becoming apparent that we needed a second goal to kill the match off and despite efforts from Murray and Gunter not being too far away, it was just one goal up at the break.
Into the second period, we started as we ended the first, being on the front foot. Simon Cox had a great chance to grab a second goal, but his volley from Gunter`s smart chip was saved by Gabor Kiraly - who is still wearing those grey tracksuit bottoms I may add! The 38-year old was brought into the action again, making a superb stop from Jake Taylor`s powerful shot from the edge of the area - you felt a goal was coming.
That goal did eventually come ten minutes into the second half and Murray added a second to his name too. Jordan Obita`s corner was flapped at by Kiraly, allowing Murray to head home from close range and to get the second that killed off any Fulham threat, which was non-existent anyway. This would unfortunately be his last major piece of action, as Adkins opted to take him off for the returning Pogrebnyak.
The big Russian nearly returned with a goal to his name too, as the superb Obita beat his man again and put in an enticing cross for Pog to attack, but Kiraly palmed his header onto the crossbar, gathering at the second attempt. Fulham fans were making their feelings clear to manager Felix Magath and his methods, which ultimately have turned the Cottagers into possible relegation candidates this campaign.
Nick Blackman was another player who returned from injury from the bench and had an effort saved by Kiraly, before adding further gloss to the scoreline. Cox`s clever pass through couldn`t be intercepted by the long legs of Dan Burn, allowing him to run through, round Kiraly, before finishing well into the corner. The fans were calling for more goals, but 3-0 was how it finished in a comfortable victory.
The sending off certainly had an influence, but Fulham looked a side derived of confidence and belief, which played into our hands. Every player had a good game for us and a special mention must go to Norwood, who despite not being involved in any of the goals directly, did a superb job in orchestrating the tempo in central midfield. It`s a third straight win and clean sheet - let`s hope we make it a fourth against Millwall on Tuesday night.
Reading - 4-2-3-1: Federici; Gunter, Pearce, Hector, Obita; Norwood, Akpan; Mackie, Cox, Taylor; Murray.
Subs: Andersen, Cooper, Long, Kuhl, Edwards, Blackman, Pogrebnyak.
Fulham - 4-3-1-2: Kiraly; Voser, Bodurov, Burn, Kavanagh; Parker, Hyndman, Hoogland; David; Smith, McCormack.
Subs: Bettinelli, Hutchinson, Stafylidis, Zverotic, Christensen, Roberts, Rodallega.