Barnsley 1 (Gray 11)
Reading 3 (Pearce 29, Hunt 53 (pen), 54)
Reading earned their first League win of the season with a comprehensive and fully-deserved 3-1 victory away to Barnsley this Saturday afternoon.
The Royals went behind to an Andy Gray header, but showed great resilience, character and quality to bounce back.
Skipper Alex Pearce placed home a nice finish for 1-1 just before the half hour, and then two second half goals in quick succession from Noel Hunt sealed the points.
Noel's first goal was a penalty after the lively Jimmy Kebe was fouled, and the Irishman then headed home Kebe's cross to put the game out of sight.
Gylfi Sigurdsson was influential throughout, and almost created a debut goal for Grzegorz Rasiak as his corner ended up clipping the crossbar with the Polish striker ready to bounce at the back post.
Rasiak and Michail Antonio both made their League debuts as second half subs, and helped close out the game in comfortable fashion.
The result was very welcome, but the performance was also first class and gives us a spring in the step going into this international break.
Barnsley: Steele; Kozluk, El Haimour, Foster (c), Moore; Colace (Odejayi 82), Halfredsson, Campbell-Ryce, Bogdanovic (Hume 66); Gray, Macken (Hammill 75)
Subs: Preece, Devaney, Thompson, de Silva
Reading: Federici; Rosenior, Bertrand, Mills, Pearce (c); Karacan, Gunnarsson, Sigurdsson; Kebe (Antonio 73), Robson-Kanu (Rasiak 66), Hunt (Long 84)
Subs: Hamer, Kelly, Cisse, Tabb
Booked: Rosenior (time wasting 79)
Ref: M OliverFirst half
Reading showed good penetration in the fifth minute when Jimmy Kebe and Hal Robson-Kanu both burst down the wings well to get inside the area in quick succession; home 'keeper Luke Steele called into action.
Andy Gray soon forced Adam Federici
into a decent save, but there was nothing our 'keeper could do on 11 minutes when Gray
marked his debut with a goal, glancing home a header from a left-wing corner.
The goal put us on the back foot momentarily, and Alex Pearce's slightly miscued backpass resulted in a poor kick from Federici that ricocheted off Gray and thankfully a yard wide of the left-hand upright.
Reading soon regained their composure though, and Jimmy Kebe was very close to getting clear on a goal from a nice Jem Karacan pass, but our winger couldn't get his footing right and a defender got back to clear.
Brendan Rodgers' men were upping the tempo, and Gylfi Sigurdsson saw a long range free kick very well saved by Steele down low to his right.
From the resulting corner, we got a deserved equaliser. Sigurdsson, impressive in charge of the set plays, whipped in a cracking ball that Hugo Colace failed to deal with. It came to Kebe, and his drilled cross bounced out to skipper Pearce
, who finished very well left-footed into the top corner.
It could have been 2-1 very soon afterwards, and again Sigurdsson was involved with a lovely through ball to set Karacan away. The Turk was completely clear, but stabbed wide as Steele advanced; a good chance gone.
We were well on top as half time approached, and Liam Rosenior's cracking low cross almost found Robson-Kanu at the back post as we get forward in numbers.
The Royals had played well, and also had a couple of penalty shouts for pushes and shirt pulls that went unpunished as Barnsley's defence wobbled.Second half
Reading came out after the break in a positive fashion and soon enough had a second goal that their play warranted.
Brynjar Gunnarsson played a very nice ball over the top to get Kebe inside the area. It swirled in the wind, and Kebe got there as Steele came out as his feet. The 'keeper got something on the ball, but also took Kebe down and a spot kick ensued. After a considerable delay, Noel Hunt
stepped up and placed it brilliantly into the top corner.
Less than three minutes later it was 3-1 and game over. Rosenior fed Kebe down the right, and his cross was fizzed in at head height. Barnsley's defence was completely AWOL, and Hunt
headed home unmarked to seal the victory.
Alex Pearce should have scored a fourth with a free header from a corner, and Reading were completely dominant.
Sigurdsson was denied by Steele's feet after a nice move down the left, then the Icelander's corner clipped the bar, Grzegorz Rasiak looking to get on the end of it at the back post; the Pole on from the bench from this debut.
A long throw from fellow replacement Michail Antonio then caused problems in the box, and our third and final sub Shane Long smacked a goalbound shot right into the face of Emil Hallfredsson from eight yards.
It was a cracking performance, and a fully deserved first three points for our manager and his new team.
As our players made their way down the tunnel, they fully applauded the loyal Reading fans who had made the journey north and there were plenty of smiles from supporters, players and staff.