Reading 5 (Robson-Kanu 13, Harte 34, 47, Long 52, 68)
Middlesbrough 2 (Lita 28, 72 (p))
Reading romped to a glorious 5-2 win over Middlesbrough, tearing the visitors depart with a fantastic attacking display.
Ian Harte was at the heart of our best play, scoring twice and also setting up Shane Long for one of his two goals.
Hal Robson-Kanu got the scoring underway, and although former Reading man Leroy Lita had briefly made it 1-1, we were the better side by a country mile.
There were great performances all over the pitch, and with Brian McDermott asking the players to carry their FA Cup form into the League, they could not have answered his call more emphatically.
Reading (4-4-2): McCarthy; Gunnarsson, Harte, Khizanishvili, Mills (c); Leigertwood, Tabb, Kebe (Antonio 82), Robson-Kanu; Hunt (Manset 87), Long (Church 70)
Subs: Andersen, Morrison, Karacan, Howard
Booked: Leigertwood (foul 27)
Boro (4-2-3-1): Steele (Ripley 40); McMahon, Bennett, Grounds, Hines; Bailey, Taylor; Robson (R Williams 60), Emnes, Zemmama (Boyd HT); Lita
Subs: Haas, Kink, Halliday, Smallwood
Booked: Bailey (foul 33)
Attendance: 18,568 (983 away)
Ref: N Swarbrick
Starting XI team news
Reading made one enforced change to their starting XI, bringing in Hal Robson-Kanu for the injured Jobi McAnuff. Mathieu Manset was fit for a place on the bench, while Sean Morrison was named as a sub for the first time since his January move from Swindon. Adam Federici, Ivar Ingimarsson, Alex Pearce, Shaun Cummings and Andy Griffin all missed out through injury. Leroy Lita started for the visitors, and received a warm welcome from our supporters before kick off.
Good play from Hal Robson-Kanu created the first sight of goal and his excellent cross forced Boro to defend at the near post.
The visitors were on the back foot, and needed a couple of early defensive headers from Leroy Lita inside his own area. Noel Hunt then got in a very good cross but it was narrowly too far ahead of strike partner Shane Long.
So it was no surprise when Reading took the lead with 13 minutes gone. Hunt showed good awareness and took a quick throw-in to Jimmy Kebe out wide on the right. He took a neat touch, whipped in a good cross and Robson-Kanu was at the back post to get in a good header despite the attentions of a defender, Jason Steele given no chance in the Boro goal.
Reading were well on top, and Steele made a magnificent save on 21 minutes to keep out a volley from Hunt, diving full stretch away to his left, showing superb reactions. It would have been a lovely goal, Hunt linking up well with Long once again.
Then, completely against the run of play, Boro got back on level terms. They won a free kick, and the ball went to Andrew Taylor, who shot from just outside the area.
But their lead only lasted six minutes before Ian Harte curled home a superb goal. Long was hacked down by a terrible challenge from Nicky Bailey 25 yards out, and a yellow was the very least the Boro man deserved. But we got our full rewards as Harte curled home a sensational effort. It was a perfect placement, right in the very bottom corner of the goal, on a postage stamp.
Boro then lost goalkeeper Steele to injury, bringing on youngster Connor Ripley for his debut.
Boro brought on Kris Boyd for the second half, switching to a 4-4-2 formation, but it was Reading who twisted the knife further just two minutes after the restart.
Brynjar Gunnarsson won a free kick after getting forward well from full back. It was not in a natural shooting position, but Harte's delivery was too good and it went straight in, too much for a questionable Boro defence.
The visitors then very nearly got back into the game but saw a goal disallowed. Reading employed their offside trap from a free kick, and it looked as if Zurab Khizanishvili might have played the visitors on, but the flag went up and it remained 3-1.
But then down the other end the referee's decision benefitted Boro, and Long looked to have been tripped perhaps six inches inside the box but only a free kick was given outside the area.
We could not be held back for long though, and Long scored with a cracking from a sensational Harte cross. It really was a wonderful ball from our Irish full back, and as many people celebrated with the creator as with the scorer!
Kebe then had a one-on-one chance but shot wide with his left foot, before Khizanishvili defended superbly down the other end to snuff out a good chance. Almost immediately Boyd had a real chance but spooned badly wide.
It was end to end, and Hunt had a good strike well saved by young Steele.
The goals just kept coming, and Hunt then supplied Long for his second of the game, setting his partner clear on goal and he made it look easy as he prodded home. Long was then withdrawn to a huge ovation, fully deserved after picking up an early knock but playing wonderfully.
Boro soon got their second though, Mills adjudged to have fouled Lita in the box, the former Reading man taking the spot kick himself and scoring well. Mills was not overly happy with the decision but the referee was not for swerving.
Sub Simon Church was clearly desperate to score, and Robson-Kanu gave him a decent chance inside the box but once again Ripley was in the right place to make a good save.
With time almost up, Harte nearly had a hat-trick of free kicks but Ripley made an excellent save down to his right, much to the disappointment of our fans!
And so it ended 5-2, the scoreline fully reflecting a great performance from Brian McDermott's men. After beating Everton in the cup in midweek, it would have been easy to fear the Royals taking the foot of the pedal - but they did exactly the opposite with a wonderful win.