Reading FC Match Report: 2012/2013 Season - Premier League
READING 2 EVERTON 1
Reading: A Le Fondre (51 mins), A Le Fondre (79 mins, pen)
Everton: S Naismith (10 mins)
A record crowd at the Madejski Stadium witnessed Reading’s first victory since returning to the Premier League. It was a result which appeared unlikely before the kick-off and virtually impossible by half time as the Royals trailed by one goal. Only superb last ditch defending and several saves from an in form Adam Federici kept Reading in the game. There were a few raised eyebrows when Le Fondre was included in the starting eleven, but once again Brian McDermott’s selection was justified as ‘Alfie’ scored both goals to round off a typically subtle and predatory performance. He looked distinctly, and understandably, unhappy when he was substituted not long after scoring the winner from the penalty spot; no doubt fancying his chances of a hat-trick. On reflection he will probably look back on the afternoon with some satisfaction of a job well done.
After a quiet start Everton began to dominate the game. They passed the ball well. Reading constantly surrendered possession by dwelling on the ball. McAnuff, Tabb, Leigertwood and Gunther all particularly guilty. Reading chances were few and far between in the first half. Le Fondre glanced a header wide from a tempting Shorey corner and Leigertwood should have done better with a free header at the far post. Everton on the other hand created a string of very good openings. The Everton goal however was nothing to do with the quality of their play. It was by far (I hope!) the softest goal Reading are likely to concede this season. A catalogue of defensive lapses triggered by an awful attempted headed clearance by Gorkss allowed Naismith to stab home from close range. Le Fondre almost equalised immediately after Everton had taken the lead when he beat Howard to a long ball and with the ‘keeper stranded clipped the ball goalwards. It sailed over the covering defenders but sadly also over the unguarded net. Morrison broke through into midfield but it was noticeable how few Reading players were making any effort to break out of defence to provide passing options. McAnuff’s dreadful long range effort near the end of the half perfectly illustrated Reading’s lack of conviction and confidence.
Whatever happened in the dressing room at half time had the most dramatic impact on the game. From the start Roberts made a surging run at the Everton defence to force a corner. Leigertwood mistimed his header again and the ball cleared the bar. Six minutes into the second half yet another excellent free kick into the box by Shorey was met with a perfectly placed header by Le Fondre which gave Howard no chance, and suddenly the game was wide open.
The game sprung to life as Reading began to believe in themselves and Everton began to look much less secure. Everton broke out quickly from a Royals attack and as Jelavic looked certain restore the visitor’s lead he was dispossessed by a tremendous tackle by Morrison. It was a challenge that could have changed the game. Had Morrison’s timing been anything less than perfect it would have been a red card or a goal. Instead it helped Reading to gather momentum. (It is a long time since I have heard Royals fans singing the name of a defender!) At the other end Le Fondre was sent clear by Roberts only to be denied by a similarly well timed last ditch tackle on the edge of the box. There was growing feeling another goal was on its way. It eventually came when Le Fondre controlled a Gunther cross on his chest and was flattened by a rash challenge from behind. Referee Atkinson had a long hard look before pointing to the spot. The Everton protests which followed were more about unnerving the taker than any sense of injustice, but Alfie doesn’t let those antics bother him and slotted the ball past Hoard with apparent ease. Almost immediately Fellaini headed against the post. When the ball rebounded straight into Fedrici’s arms I knew it was finally going to be Reading’s day. Hunt replaced Le Fondre and made a brief but significant contribution (mainly running the ball down to the corner flag to eat up time) and also managed to get himself booked. I even saw Jason Roberts win a header in his own penalty area as Reading saw out the game for s deserved first win of the season.
It was good team performance in which Morrison was outstanding, but Robson-Kanu, Tabb, Shorey and Le Fondre were also in particularly good from. Reading are now out of the bottom three, and was good to see so many smiling faces as everyone made their way home.
This Premier League game took place 1949 days ago in the 2012/2013 season.