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Reading 2-0 Middelsbrough

A win, somehow, would propel Reading back into the top six, and thankfully The Royals managed to find their first win in eight at home to put themselves firmly back in the driving seat ahead of the final two games of the season.

Two goals in the first fifteen minutes kickstarted the home side, a good cross from Jordan Obita was put across goal by Garath McCleary before finally being turned in by serial-poacher Adam Le Fondre - who ended his thirteen game goalless streak since his hat-tricks against Blackpool and Bolton in January. Five minutes later another good cross from Obita brushed the head of George Friend who managed to put the ball past his own goalkeeper. Between the two goals Danny Graham had a gilt-edged chance to equalise, after a beautiful ball through from Luke Williams.

Hal Robson-Kanu looked lively, but unfortunately went off within the first half hour after, what seemed like, a broken nose bloodied the front of his shirt. Replaced by a slightly unfit Pavel Pogrebnyak the intensity definitely fell, and it let Middelsbrough back into the game, especially in the fifteen minutes either side of half-time. Williams also looked good, particularly early on when he had a couple of well placed shots turned away by Dimitrios Konstantopoulos.

McCarthy's distribution was again poor, and (again) parried into the middle too often but did keep a clean sheet so it's hard to be too critical. Obita, other than for the two goals did seem to hit the first man every time. To end the first half there was an interesting period of play where first a Middelsbrough player went down but Reading played on, before McAnuff was injured and Middlesbrough also kept the ball in play. Reading playing on is an incredibly rare occurance.

In the second half it was quickly apparent that Guthrie wouldn't be able to play on, replaced by Hope Akpan. It seems a little odd to risk Guthrie when Williams is also carrying a knock and wasn't expected to get through the ninety. However Pogrebnyak looked more comfortable holding up the ball, and had a lovely run through the defence - only to have a soft shot turned round the post by the keeper. For the second time in a week it was deemed a goal kick, though. Interesting decision.

The only real pressure that Middlesbrough exerted in the second half came from a poor Gunter backpass, which McCarthy very almost handled, but it was deemed that the Middlesbrough striker had got a touch first. Gunter also skied a shot after good work from Pogrebnyak to set him up.

A convincing five goal swing from the game at the Riverside is a very pleasing result, and we never looked under any real pressure. A good goal from open play, and a dangerous free-kick were enough to put us back into sixth, and with only two games left we must now be considered favourites - with Forest hitting form at the right time ready for a final day encounter with Brighton. Next up away at Doncaster - who we swept away earlier in the season. Let's put ourselves in a good position ready for the final day!

Finally, good to see I beat whoever wrote in the programme about conceding the first goal, it's a really dire stat for a team who made their reputation over the past two years from comebacks and playing until the last whistle - only eight points from a possible sixty as opposed to 53 from 63 (now 56 from 66).

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