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Doncaster 1-3 Reading

For only the second time this season Reading managed to come from behind to win, this time at lowly Doncaster. After a win from promotion contenders Brighton last night, it was necessary for The Royals to match the result for our fate to be in our own hands next weekend against Burnley. Losses for Ipswich, and Nottingham Forest, means that two from Wigan, Reading, and Brighton will secure play-off places next weekend - with Wigan also playing midweek against a relegation threatened Birmingham. There's also a slim chance of Blackburn snatching a place - should Wigan lose midweek, Blackburn beat them by 3 goals on Saturday, with Brighton losing at Forest - but it's quite evidently a longshot.

Back to this weekend, and as is normal with Reading's away performances as of late, a poor opening half saw James Coppinger sneak in unmarked at the far post to turn in a Billy Sharp pass across the face of goal. Oddly reminiscent of Bournemouth, the marking of players coming into the box was non-existant, and Coppinger had a tap in. From there, Doncaster looked better for the rest of the first half in front of a raucous away end. Poor distribution from Morrison saw possession wasted on numerous occasions, and there was almost nobody who could hold onto the ball. McAnuff once managed to break down the left hand side, after a good ball from ALF, and in the only other moment of note McCleary was scythed down on the very edge of the area but the resulting free-kick hit the wall. We didn't have a shot on target in the first half - which says everything.

In the second half we looked much brighter, and just after the hour mark a ball through to Le Fondre saw Paul Quinn bring down the striker, and the penalty from Le Fonder just snuck under Sam Johnstone in goal. From then Reading hit a Donnie wall, who were just as in need of the points as the team from Berkshire. After weathering a storm the turning point of the game probably came when McCleary had the ball on the edge of the area after a thunderous volley had left Enda Stevens on the floor, and the referee chose to stop play. Moments after, an obvious corner was deemed to be a goal-kick - for the third time in four games.

These moments, alongside the substitution of Jake Taylor for Hope Akpan, seemed to spark Reading. Le Fondre missed a sitter from 8 yards, as he ballooned a shot over, but a Reading goal was coming. Taylor looked like he'd played in the side for years, with beautiful interplay - particularly with ALF up front. His cross looped over the keeper, to a completely unmarked Pavel to head home. Pav then added another after a quite mesmirising run from Pearce. Not entirely sure what happened to the defence, but Pog blasted into the gap between keeper and near post to make the points safe.

Le Fondre, and second-half-Pogrebnyak looked unstoppable - pretty much the force we know they could be. Both were a handful, and I don't think I've seen the latter sprint quite like today. There's also a strong case for Taylor to be included from the start next Saturday. When we moved slightly more toward a diamond - with him sitting just behind the strikers - it appeared to be the missing link between defence and attack that we'd lacked so often this season. Finally, what's wrong with having contested drop balls? A couple of times they would have benefitted Reading, and Doncaster gained an obvious advantage by going down, and having the goalkeeper clear it back to McCarthy.

All goes down to the final day, then, with a Reading win ensuring play-off football. Wigan's result at St Mary's could make the final day incredibly interesting - especially if they fail to pick up any points at all - with a tricky away tie to Blackburn on the final day, who are unbeaten in twelve matches. We, of course, have Burnley at home - who were, by all accounts, poor today even though they managed to get a 1-0 victory over Ipswich. Massive final day. Come on, Reading! I'm starting to believe.


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