Match Report: 2010/2011 Season

5 April 2011: CHAMPIONSHIP
Reading: Kebe (21 mins), Robson-Kanu (82 mins).
Preston: McCarthy (og, 52 mins).
Half Time: 1-0.

Attendance: 14,844

Pos Team P Pts GD
5 Leeds 39 64 +12
6 READING 39 63 +21
7 Nottm F 39 60 +10
Reading: A. McCarthy, I. Harte, A. Griffin, I. Ingimarsson, Z. Khizanishvili, J. McAnuff (H. Robson-Kanu, 81), J. Tabb (M. Manset, 57), B. Howard (M. Leigertwood, 57), J. Kebe, J. Karacan, S. Long. Subs not used: A. Pearce, M. Andersen, S. Church, M. Antonio .
Preston: I. Turner, B. Jones, C. Morgan, B. Khumalo, D. Carter, B. Nicholson, I. Ashbee, K. Treacy (P. Parry, 72), A. Barton (N. Ellington, 63), E. Johnson (P. Hayes, 83), I. Hume. Subs not used: P. Coutts, D. Russell, A. Lonergan, B. Wright.
Reading: Griffin.
Preston: Ashbee, Parry.
Ref: M Haywood.
Reading looked to be heading for a draw against a very physical and determined North End side fighting for survival until Brian McDermott introduced Manset and Liegertwood with just over half an hour to go. Liegertwood simply took control of midfield and transformed the Royals into a potent attacking force. Manset bolstered the attack and took some of the pressure of the tireless Shane Long to open up the visitors defence. The pressure mounted and ultimately some poor defending allowed Reading's third substitute Robson-Kanu to nip in and score the winner with virtually his first touch.

Ingimarsson and Khishavilli, both excellent on the ball, were eager to press forward as Reading went in of an early goal. Reading started well but it took a typical burst of pace from Long to set up the opening goal. Surging past the full back out wide on the left he whipped in a cross which was deflected across the goal and Kebe reacted smartly to nod the ball in from close range. Karacan and Howard, as on Saturday, were making positive forward runs. Karacan notably on one occasion showing Kebe how to go past a full back and deliver a cross. McAnuff almost took on the entire Preston team single-handedly with a mazy run which sadly ended with a misplaced pass. Preston were clearly not going to cave in easily and were certainly not holding back in their challenges. Karacan was booted into touch from behind but the gormless Mr Hayward did not even notice, neither did his myopic assistant even though the incident was only a few feet away from him! Preston enjoyed a spell of possession after the goal but were unable to test McCarthy.

Reading started the second half sluggishly and were punished when a free kick was headed on by Johnson. The ball struck the post and bounced in off the unfortunate sprawling McCarthy. This galvanised McDermott into action and within minutes he made a double substation bringing on Manset and Liegertwood for Tabb and Howard. Both players offered a degree of strength and invention that had been lacking up to that point. Liegeretwood's telescopic legs robbed opponents of possession and they were simply unable to dispossess him no matter how hard they tried. The ball was now pinging around in the Preston half and the crowd were roused. Manset was slow to get going but once he got going he gave the North End defence a very tough time. He won headers and took players on at every opportunity. he put Long through with an excellent pass but the in-form striker surprisingly failed to add to his tally. Harte made a ground into the Preston half and unleashed a thunderous drive which the 'keeper did extremely well to deflect onto the bar. Eventually Robson-Kanu popped up for the winner much to everyone's relief. The incompetent Mr Hayward did his best to present chances for the visitors to equalise with some very dubious decisions but Reading were now so dominant now they were looking the more likely side to score.

Having taken full advantage of the game in hand Reading head off to Forest on Saturday knowing a win would put them six points clear of the pack chasing the play places, but even a defeat will keep them in the top six. With Liegertwood back I am confident of at least a point but it goes without saying it will not be easy.
John Wells

Well that was a strange evening. The first 30 minutes Reading dominated - but apart from the goal created little. For the next 30 minutes it was all Preston really and we seemed to lose our way in a crowded and ineffective midfield with Tabb, Karacan and Howard all getting in each other's way. Preston scored a lucky but probably deserved equaliser. Brian did the brave but obvious and reverted to 4-4-2 and the last 30 minutes were very exciting. Just when I thought it was not going to be our night - Brian brought on R-K for the tiring McAnuff and a minute later we had three points. Well done to all the players for sticking with it. MOTM to Brain for making the substitutions at the right times. But great to see Legs back - what a player and Karacan looked so much better when the other two had departed. Number 13 were fantastic tonight and really drove the team on. The referee would have been a disgrace in a Sunday League game.

Well, in summary, a dreadful 57 minutes (even though we scored) and then the substitutions were made which changed the game. First half we were flat, complacent and totally switched off when we went a goal up. Almost as if the job was done. For me, and again despite the goal i thought that was Kebe's worst game in a Reading short this season. Howard was ineffective and too many short lose passes from Tabb etc. Ingimarsson is an accident waiting to happen and Mills coming back in cannot come quick enough. Harte and Griffin were excellent as was Kishi who is getting better and better. Delighted that Mcdermott was more creative in his substitutions by going with Manset over Church and the difference was all to see. Leigertwood was excellent when coming on and stole the show with his composure and shear presence. Robson Kanu running at players with pace also made an instant impact and pleased he got the goal. Referee was woeful and i am not normally one to moan. Hesitant and unable to get key decisions right. Surprised at the low attendance tonight, but a good atmosphere for first 20 mins and the last. Onwards and upwards.

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Reading's recent form had seen them climb into the top six and they closed the gap on fifth-placed Leeds to one point after Robson-Kanu looped his strike over Turner after 81 minutes. It was a cruel blow for Preston, who had won their previous three fixtures but remain eight points from safety after the loss at the Madejski Stadium with seven games left to play. The next two fixtures for North End are also away from Deepdale, with a match at Portsmouth on Saturday followed by a potentially crucial trip to face a Doncaster side who are sliding down the table. In truth, it was a largely disappointing game and the first half was particularly poor, with hardly any incidents of note. The in-form Shane Long flicked an Ian Harte free-kick wide of the target but it was hardly a sign of things to come. Reading, with just one change from the team that defeated Portsmouth on Saturday, were the more inventive of the two sides and created space for Brian Howard to shoot from 20 yards but his low drive was easily saved by Turner.

There was more than a hint of fortune about the Royals opening goal as Long's cross from the right struck makeshift Preston right-back Barry Nicholson and looped over the helpless Turner and into the path of Kebe, who bundled the ball home. Turner punched a cross-come-shot from Howard clear but that was more or less the full extent of the chances in the opening 45 minutes as Preston failed to trouble McCarthy in the Reading goal. North End's equaliser came seven minutes after the restart when Fulham loanee Johnson flicked a Keith Treacy header against the post and the ball went in off McCarthy's back. Billy Jones was then inches away from converting an Iain Hume flick, but after that it was Reading who took control. Bongani Khumalo deflected a shot from Long wide, before a fierce strike from Zurab Khizanishvili was cleared on the line by Ian Ashbee. The referee was surrounded by Royals players appealing for handball but he waved away their protests. Reading's frustration grew when a long-range strike from Harte appeared to deceive Turner, but the keeper got a touch on the ball and it hit the crossbar before rebounding to safety. But the winner came through Robson-Kanu's shot and Reading almost extended their advantage but Turner denied Long and substitute Mathieu Manset, who also shot wide.

BBC Sport