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14:53 2th May 2010

Report: Royals sign off with fine win

Reading 4 (Kebe 12, McAnuff 17, Sigurdsson 72,
Church 90)
Preston 1 (Wallace 64)

Reading (4-2-3-1): Federici; Griffin (Karacan 84), Bertrand, Mills (c), Pearce; Howard (Gunnarsson 68), Tabb; Kebe, McAnuff, Sigurdsson; Long (Church 84)
Subs: Hamer, Taylor, Robson-Kanu, Bignall
Booked: Pearce (foul 60), Sigurdsson (dissent 82)

Preston (4-1-4-1): Henderson; Jones, Williams, Mawene, St Ledger; Davidson (c); James, Nicholson (Parkin 14), Mayor (Treacy 52), Wallace; Brown (Proctor 78)
Subs: Comrie, Miller, Dougan, Chilvers
Booked: Wallace (dissent 85), Parking (foul 90)

Attendance: 19,239 (614 away)

Team news
Reading were without injured on-loan centre half Zurab Khizanishvili, so Alex Pearce came in at the back. Grzegorz Rasiak was also injured after picking up a knock in training, so young duo Nicholas Bignall and Jake Taylor were named on the bench; Taylor's first ever game as a sub.

First half
Reading secured an early advantage in fine style, wing wizard Jimmy Kebe scoring a cracking individual effort. He challenged for a loose ball midway inside the Preston half, jinked past two or three men and slotted home a very tidy finish from just inside the area. It was a goal of real quality, and the Malian made it look far easier than it really was.

Just a few minutes later it was 2-0 and again we found the net with a very good goal. Jay Tabb did well to challenge for a loose ball, and the referee played a good advantage as the ball ran to Shane Long. His pass to Jobi McAnuff was perfect, and the winger advanced into the box, cut inside his man with aplomb and curled home low into the corner.

We were by far the better side, and should really have had a third goal when Kebe sidefooted an excellent chance over after a superb team move, pouncing on a rebound from Long's shot but just unable to keep it down.

Preston finally mustered a shot on 33 minutes, and Matt James should have done better than to scuff a shot into the ground when in on goal from sub Jon Parkin's knockdown.

Reading were the dominant side, and Long was denied by a superb Wayne Henderson save. The Preston 'keeper also showed good agility to deby Gylfi Sigurdsson from the rebound, but the Icelander was flagged offside anyway.

Preston had a couple more efforts before the break, Parkin's low cross just evading everyone in the middle and then the under-worked Adam Federici making a good save from Youl Mawene's far post header.

Second half
Sigurdsson was clearly desperate to score his 20th of the campaign, and just after the restart he saw an effort deflected just a few inches wide following a brilliant Kebe run. Preston's supporters were staying amused in the away end, dancing a conga in the south stand.

Just before the hour Long turned a left-footed effort over the bar following superb play by Ryan Bertrand, the left back showing fantastic ability to work the opportunity.

Credit to Preston though because they showed good character to find a foothold in the game, and Ross Wallace smashed a shot against the post after going clean through. Moments later Wallace scored a fantastic free kick, the Scottish international smashing home from more than 25 yards out, giving Federici no chance whatsover.

We were not affected by conceding a goal, and Long powered a header over soon afterwards.

After trying valiantly throughout, Sigurdsson finally notched his 20th of an incredible campaign, turning home a neat low finish on the angle after more good Royal wing play. PNE's Henderson then had to make another cracking save to keep out Matt Mills' header as we looked for a quick fourth.

With six minutes to go Andy Griffin came off to superb applause, and the on-loan Stoke defender repaid the complement as 19,000 loyal Royals stood to salute his efforts over the past few months.

Kebe had a goal contentiously disallowed for offside, while North End sub Jamie Proctor had a tame effort easily saved.
We were streaming forward at the death in search of another, and sub Simon Church provided it in comprehensive fashion, smashing home a sensational volley from 20 yards that gave Henderson absolutely no chance - well worth waiting forth and a top class finish.

It was a great way to end the season, and a ninth-placed finish in this division is something to be very proud of indeed. Players and supporters paid mutual respect after this whistle in our Lap of Appreciation, and the biggest cheer was reserved for Brian McDermott, whose contribution to this football club is, frankly, incredible.

    Data provided by Press Association