Reading 1 (Manset 70)
Reading earned an important 1-0 victory away to Barnsley thanks to a second half goal from sub Mathieu Manset.
Manset came off the bench to turn home from six yards, and full credit must also go to Shane Long for chasing a lost cause and creating the goal.
Manset also saw an effort tipped onto the post late on after a thunderous 25-yard strike, and Reading defended resolutely to preserve all three points and move up to seventh in the table.
It was a very good away performance from our boys, and on a difficult pitch we put in a professional display despite a whole host of injuries. Home 'keeper Luke Steele made a number of good stops, while Alex McCarthy also deserves praise for a number of saves.
At full time the win put Brian McDermott's men up to seventh in the table, three points off the play-offs with a game in hand and a superior goal difference. We now have a two-week break to help get our squad up to full strength after injury, and we go into the final stages of the campaign with real optimism.
Reading (4-2-3-1): McCarthy; Gunnarsson, Harte, Ingimarsson (c), Khizanishvili; Karacan, Tabb, Howard (Antonio 78), Church (Manset 65), Kebe; Long
Subs: Andersen, Morrison, Pearce, Taylor, Obita
Booked: Long (dissent 90)
Barnsley (4-4-2): Steele; Trippier, Hill, Doyle, Shackell (c); Arismendi, Colace (Butterfield 65), O'Brien, McEveley (Devaney HT); Gray (Bennett 80) Harewood
Subs: Preece, Fearnehough, Lovre, O'Connor
Booked: Arismendi (foul 30), Colace (foul 52)
Ref: Mr TannerStarting XI team news
Reading made three changes; with Ivar Ingimarsson, Brian Howard and Simon Church coming in for the injured Mikele Leigertwood, Jobi McAnuff and Noel Hunt. With Hal Robson-Kanu also injured, young winger Jordan Obita was on the bench. Alex Pearce was back from injury to be named among the subs, but Adam Federici
, Andy Griffin and Shaun Cummings remained unavailable.First half
The Royals had a decent sight of goal early on, and Shane Long got up well for a header from Jay Tabb's cross but it went wide of the upright.
Brian Howard, back in the team against his former club, then gave Simon Church a very good sight of goal soon after but Tykes 'keeper Luke Steele was out quickly at his feet and saved well.
Barnsley then had their first opportunity, and although Marlon Harewood headed goalwards, Alex McCarthy saved comfortably.
Down the other end an excellent Jimmy Kebe run saw the ball worked to Church on the left, and his cross/shot was inviting but went just wide of the upright.
The bobbly Oakwell pitch began to play more of a part as the half went on, and it became a rather scrappy game. Harewood was Barnsley's best player, and his cross found Andy Gray, but Alex McCarthy made a top save.
A nice ball from Ian Harte then found Howard, and he in turn played in Long, whose cross for Kebe wasn't perfect and the winger's header lacked power.
Kebe then dragged a shot wide, and after Reading started the game on top it had become a little scrappy going into the interval.Second half
Howard looked to break the dealock on his old stomping ground just 90 seconds into the second half, and he hit a good effort from 25 yards but Steele saved away to his right.
Steele then made a top class save to deny Long; the Irishman having hit a cracking volley from Howard's corner. Within minutes Steele saved from Zurab Khizanishvili as Reading looked to break the deadlock.
Barnsley were then close to what would have been a controversial goal. McCarthy came to claim a ball on the penalty stop, gathering it into his chest, and Barnsley sub Martin Devaney seemed to push Brynjar Gunnarsson into McCarthy, forcing the ball to run loose, agonisingly wide of the upright. Our bench were livid that no foul was given, but thankfully it was of no consequence.
Then with 20 minutes left we broke the deadlock, and full credit must go to Long for his tireless work in creating the goal. The ball looked to be running out of play, and Nathan Doyle dawdled somewhat. Long had done superbly to chase the lost cause, and squared for sub Mathieu Manset
to turn home.
Barnsley looked to respond five minutes later, but McCarthy stood up well to deny Harewood.
Manset was then desperately close to making it 2-0, turning brilliantly 25 yards out and hitting a superb effort then Steele tipped onto the post at full stretch; a very, very good save.
Then McCarthy made another important stop as the ball luckily ran through to sub Jacob Butterfield, but our young 'keeper stood up superbly and bravely.
We defended bravely in the final stages, and could have had another on the break - but it was of no concern as the full time whistle went and we celebrated a cracking win.
With a host of injuries, the strength and character in our squad should not be understimated - and we are very much looking up the table.