Match Report: 2011/2012 Season

25 February 2012: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Hunt (17 mins), Harte (80 mins).
Middlesbrough: -.
Half Time: 1-0.

Attendance: 17,314

Pos Team P Pts GD
2 West Ham 32 61 +19
3 READING 32 57 +14
4 Blackpool 33 55 +13
Reading: A Federici, I Harte, M Connolly, K Gorkss, A Pearce, J McAnuff, M Leigertwood, J Kebe, J Karacan, N Hunt, J Roberts.
Subs not used: J Tabb, H Robson-Kanu, A Le Fondre, M Andersen, S Church.
Middlesbrough: J Steele, J Hoyte, M Bates, S Hines, J Bennett, B Robson, J Arca, R Williams, L Jutkiewicz, M Emnes (B Ogbeche, 82), F Haroun (C Main, 59).
Subs not used: T McMahon, M Martin, R Smallwood.
Reading: -
Middlesbrough: Hines.
Ref: S Attwell.

Cracking take for the second goal. Curled into the lower right(from our view). Settled the team down and broke boro. Thankfully all boro seemed to want were on target stats. A crucial win (as they all are from here on in). I would have taken a draw from the start and tbh it looked like we would concede. Another solid performance in defence and another clean sheet. Points and +2 is very telling. Roberts plays a very cute positional game. It was bloody cold and windy up here but did not have any effect inside the ground. Eventually I enjoyed that!

Typical performance if I am honest. Couldn't really see the first goal from our end, just saw the players celebrating so joined in. I can't really remember any clear cut chances, apart from Roberts in the second half, but he went down and we all know what happened with the resulting free kick. Terrible atmosphere, or rather lack of atmosphere by both sets of fans, reminded me of a home game.
I know we keep saying 'another win from an average performance, wait til we step it up a gear', but I'm quite afraid as to whether or not we actually have another gear. Could be doomed in the playoffs if we stay like this.
Very happy with the three points and clean sheet and I'm hoping we can pick up another three at Millwall. Brum result went our way as did West Ham, so a bit of belief regarding automatic is creeping in. A long way to go yet though

I think most fans, even those that predicted a Royals win, would have gladly taken an away draw, myself included. And it would seem that BM had the same desire as the play was visibly a mix of focus on breaking-up play, absorb whatever pressure Borough dish out, and take whatever chances are given. And if that was indeed the gameplan, then the boys did more than their job and BM is definitely a shrewd tactician. In the US, the NFL calls that the "prevent defense" which is hard on the eyes and nerves, but can be effective. Most turned-in a good job.

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Reading held off Middlesbrough to record a fifth successive victory in the Championship and maintain their push for automatic promotion. Noel Hunt scored from close range in the 17th minute while Ian Harte curled a 25-yard free-kick into the top corner late on as Reading climbed to third. In between, Rhys Williams tested Royals keeper Adam Federici with a looping header while Julio Arca fired over. Federici then kept out two efforts from Lukas Jutkiewicz before Harte's strike.

Reading's goals bookended a game that saw Middlesbrough enjoy large spells of possession. Republic of Ireland striker Hunt poached the first from six yards after Alex Pearce nodded a Harte cross back across goal into his path. Boro created little in the first half but, after the interval, Williams worked Federici with a looping header and 25-yard effort, to give the home fans hope. Reading came close to doubling their advantage but Jason Steele's outstretched boot denied striker Jason Roberts a fourth goal in five games following his January move from Blackburn. Jutkiewicz then had two chances in as many minutes to draw his side level but the striker shot straight at Federici before bringing the best out of the Australian keeper with a header. Harte eventually sealed the win with a trademark free-kick and the Royals were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty in the final minute when Jobi McAnuff appeared to be pulled down in the penalty box.

Reading manager Brian McDermott:
"It was hard work today because Boro are a good team and we probably didn't make our first pass count as much as we would have liked. And it was a relief to get the second goal when we did because they were having a lot of the ball at that point. We are up to third now but we aren't getting carried away. After six games we were bottom of the league and we didn't get carried away about that too much either. There's still a long way to go yet."

BBC Sport