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17:59 3th October 2009

Report: Boro take three points

Reading 0
Middlesbrough 2 (St Ledger 12, Lita 55)

A goal in each half gave Middlesbrough a 2-0 win at Madejski Stadium this Saturday afternoon.

Sean St Ledger headed Gareth Southgate's men into an early lead, perhaps via a deflection from Leroy Lita, and once the Teessiders went in front they looked likely to win.

Leroy Lita doubled the advantage just after the break, and after being given a good reception on his return to RG2, he repaid the compliment with a respectful goal celebration.

Jobi McAnuff was our best player, especially in the first half, but he could not conjure up that telling opportunity.

After the good performance at Preston in midweek this was a very different display, and manager Brendan Rodgers is doing all he can to find the winning formula at home.

Reading (4-2-3-1): Federici; Cummings, Bertrand, Ingimarsson (c), O'Dea; Gunnarsson (Sigurdsson 58), Karacan; Howard, Kebe (Hunt HT), McAnuff; Church
Subs: Hamer, Mills, Pearce, Cisse, Matejovsky
Booked: Karacan (foul 23)

M'boro (4-4-2): Jones; McMahon, Bennett, St Ledger, Wheater; O'Neil, Williams, Yeates (Arca 71), Johnson; Aliadiere, Lita (Emnes 88)
Subs: Coyne, Hoyte, Grounds, Hines, Arca, Digard

Attendance: 17,638

First half
The Royals named an unchanged starting line-up after the midweek win at Preston, although Polish striker Grzegorz Rasiak missed out on a place on the bench through injury, vice captain Alex Pearce instead named among the subs.

Boro's team included returning frontman Leroy Lita, and he was given a very warm welcome by the home supporters. He was the first player to come close to a goal, flicking a ninth minute header that Adam Federici saved easily.

The visitors had settled nicely, and with 12 on the clock they found themselves in front. Adam Johnson's inswinging corner came to Sean St Ledger, and the defender powered in a header for 1-0. It may have taken a final touch off Lita on the way in, but either way it was a blow to the Royals' hopes.

Jobi McAnuff was our liveliest player, and a couple of minutes later he did well to work some space on the edge of the box but shot over the crossbar from 18 yards out.

Lita then had a great chance to make it 2-0 after getting onto the end of Adam Johnson's pass, but he missed his kick and Adam Federici was able to grasp the loose ball.

McAnuff was again involved soon afterwards as he got in a good cross from the left, but Jimmy Kebe failed to get enough purchase on his header at the back post.

Winger McAnuff looked our best chance of a way back into the game, and his superb run from halfway created a chance for Brian Howard but the shot was blocked.

A moment later Howard flicked a header just wide of the post, and that was the nearest we had come. We had shown plenty of endeavour but Boro's defence was too strong and we were always at arm's length going forward.

Second half
Brendan Rodgers brought on Noel Hunt for Kebe at half time, going two up front in an attempt to get back on terms.

But with ten minutes of the half gone it was the visitors who found the back of the net and the scorer was a familiar face.

Lita received a Gary O'Neil pass 40 yards from goal, and turned expertly to find himself in real space and in one-on-one with Federici. As he bore down on goal, he looked confident of scoring and lashed home right footed from 20 yards down into the corner. In a gesture of respect to the home fans, Lita's celebration was very muted and he earned a round of applause from our supporters as a result.

The goal was a hammer blow, and although we continued to enjoy good possession we were unable to make it count.

With 20 minutes remaining Federici pulled off a cracking save to dny Jeremie Aliadiere, and referee Neil Swarbrick surprisingly gave a goal kick when it was clearly a corner.

As time ticked on we kept looking for a lifeline, but we only became more anxious and frustrated by Boro's defending.

With five minutes to go Ryan Bertrand did well down the left, but just failed to pick out a man in the six yard box with colleagues waiting to pounce and turn the ball home.

Then in the final minute Hunt was unfortunate to hit a shot straight at Brad Jones; anywhere else and it would have been a goal as it came at the 'keeper with great pace.

It had been Middlesbrough's afternoon, and they were the stronger side throughout. Once they went ahead it became an uphill struggle, and now we look to the next home game with Leicester as our chance to win at Madejski Stadium.
    Data provided by Press Association