Reading FC Match Report: 2012/2013 Season - Premier League


Reading: H Robson-Kanu (pen, 12 mins), H Robson-Kanu (62 mins), A Le Fondre (75 mins), J Karacan (83 mins).
Fulham: B Ruiz (70 mins), B Ruiz (77 mins).

This – belatedly - was what we’d signed up to. The Best League in The World TM was supposed to be all about exciting attacking football, sackloads of chances and plenty of goals. Freed from the shackles of playing conservatively in order to perpetuate a miracle in preserving our place in the Premier League, Reading at last created openings galore and hit four. This was a SKY ad-man’s dream; 6 goals and care-free football between two teams with precious little to play for.

And what a setting for easily the most enjoyable, stress-free game of a traumatic season. A meander through the Fulham Palace Gardens behind Craven Cottage on a warm and sunny, quintessentially English spring day must be one of the more enjoyable experiences of football fandom in this country, particularly with nothing of any great consequence riding on the match. Children playing in the sandpits located a Jimmy Kebe mishit cross away from the Putney End would not have enjoyed more fun than the long-suffering Reading away contingent on this particular afternoon. When the weather is fine you know it's the time for messin' about by the river.

Reading made one change from recent starting line-ups, Robson-Kanu deservedly replacing the disappointing Nick Blackman. This meant returns to The Cottage for Stephen Kelly and Pavel Pogrebnyak, with the former once again being deployed out of position and the latter being forced to work hard in the sun in his own lone striker role. Reading started as brightly as the sunshine and were rewarded after little more than ten minutes; HRK was clattered as he chased the ball into the penalty area and he summarily dispatched the result penalty. Guthrie and Pogrebnyak failed to be similarly clinical with half-openings before McCarthy was called into action in earnest, a miracle-save from Rodallega at close-range being the pick of some decisive goalkeeping in that first period.

Following the talented young ‘keeper’s lead, Reading’s other academy graduates shone on this day. Karacan had by far his most impactive game of a disappointing season, continually retrieving and retaining possession from an admittedly disinterested looking Fulham midfield and Jem himself should have scored early in the second half with his toe-poked over beating Schwarzer but rolling fractionally wide of the far post. Pogrebnyak oafishly failed to turn in a close range scramble when his large tumbling frame seemed destined to carried ball and man over the line and with Reading enjoying all sorts of joy on either flank, half chances came and went. Finally, our third academy old-boy HRK doubled his own and his team’s tally by opening himself up to curl home after McCleary’s blocked effort fell to him. The luxury of a 2 goal lead in a Premier League game for the first time since October had Reading in unfamiliar territory however, which must explain why Kelly’s GPS was awry when he was guilty of ball-watching as Fulham worked a one-two finished easily by Ruiz. 1-2 with twenty minutes left. Cue nerves? Cue Le Fondre.

ALF’s 7th goal as a substitute (a Premier League record for a season, apparently) came with 13 minutes remaining and was similar to that glorious effort in all-together more high-octane and significant surroundings at St Mary’s last spring. Karacan’s ball over the top found ALF who rounded Schwarzer to slot home from an almost impossible angle. It would be fair to question ALF’s impact when starting games, but there is no doubting his value in term of expert finishing against tiring defences late in games. Typical of our season though is that we conceded again a minute later; Kacaniklic was afforded time and space to weigh up a right wing cross under no pressure and the Reading defence repeated their generosity in allowing Luiz an entirely unmarked header from barely 4 yards. Soon after, Rodallega crashed yet another right side cross against the cross-bar as Reading began to drown against a sudden Thames-side tide of Fulham attack.

Contary to what we have seen so many times this season, Reading scored the next goal when under pressure and seemingly on the verge of capitualting. The forth arrived when Le Fondre fed Karacan who drove at Schwarzer who seemed to allow a daisy-cutter to slip through his grasp. We needed that daylight as Rodallega headed wide at the far post under insufficient pressure and then McCarthy was required to perform goal-line heroics after a scramble. But Reading held out at the end of this particular engaging Tale from the Riverbank.
Neil Maskell

This Premier League game took place 2928 days ago in the 2012/2013 season.