Reading 2 (Long 30, 37 (pen))
The Royals moved up to sixth in the npower Championship table with a fully deserved 2-0 win over Portsmouth.
Shane Long's 50th and 51st goals in a Reading shirt earned us all three points, the second goal a penalty after Ricardo Rocha had been sent off for a professional foul on our in-form Irishman. Pompey argued that the foul was outside the area, but referee Kevin Friend saw it otherwise and after that the result was never in doubt.
Pompey had a reasonable amount of possession in the second half, and although they caused a few scrambled they never majorly troubled Alex McCarthy. Their only real chance of note was a Dave Kitson header at 0-0 that he miscued wide, and otherwise our defence stood firm.
Brian Howard was impressive and looked to be harshly denied a third for handball, while Simon Church also saw a cracking strike scrubbed off for a supposed handball.
Our momentum continues unabated, and we are now into the play-off positions with a game in hand and superior goal difference over those above us. We very much look forward to Tuesday's home game against Preston, and go into that match unbeaten in eight in the League.
Reading (4-2-3-1): McCarthy; Gunnarsson, Harte, Ingimarsson (c), Khizanishvili; Karacan, Tabb; Howard (Church 74), Kebe, McAnuff (Robson-Kanu 61); Long
Subs: Andersen, Griffin, Pearce, Antonio, Manset
Booked: McAnuff (dissent 40)
Portsmouth (4-2-3-1): Ashdown; De Laet, Hreidarsson, Halford, Rocha; Hogg, Mullins (Ward 78), Lawrence (c), Cotterill (Mokoena 43), Nugent (Webber 85); Kitson
Subs: Flahavan, Dickinson, Ciftci, Kanu
Booked: De Laet (foul 8), Mullins (foul 27), Mokoena (foul 70)
Attendance: 21,896 (4,027 away)
Ref: K Friend
Starting XI team news
Reading made one change; the fit-again Jobi McAnuff coming in for Simon Church in a wide midfield role. Andy Griffin was also back and was named on the bench, but Noel Hunt, Mikele Leigertwood, Adam Federici, Shaun Cummings and Matt Mills remained unavailable.
The game started at a steady pace, and the first chance fell to the visitors, and after scoring umpteen goals at Madejski Stadium, supporters of both teams expected Dave Kitson to nod home Liam Lawrence's cross but he glanced wide and missed a great chance with ten minutes gone.
Reading were enjoying more possession, but Alex McCarthy had a make a superb reaction save to deny Kitson, having also palmed away an effort from David Nugent. Jonathan Hogg shot wide from the edge of the box, while Ian Harte was not too far away with a couple of free kicks.
The Royals were creating good territorial advantage, and the deadlock was broken just before the 30-minute mark. Jimmy Kebe went on a fabulous run, passed infield to Jem Karacan, who in turn found Shane Long 25 yards out. The Irishman hit a cracking drive, and it deceived Jamie Ashdown in the Pompey goal for 1-0 and Long's 50th goal in a Reading shirt.
Reading then began to turn the screw, and seven minutes later we doubled the lead. A sensational pass from Brian Howard put Long in on goal, and he was clipped by Ricardo Rocha right on the edge of the area. At first glance it perhaps looked outside the box, but referee Kevin Friend deemed it to be a penalty. In any event, it was a certain red card for Rocha, and after a considerable delay Long sidefooted home for 2-0 and his 25th goal in for club and country this season.
We were looking for a third before half time, and had to thank Jem Karacan for an excellent tackle on Liam Lawrence after he broke from a Reading attack, so we were very satisfied with a two-goal advantage going into the break.
Reading created the first good move of the second half, the impressive Howard playing a nice one-two with Karacan, but Karacan's ball didn't quite find a teammate in the middle.
Portsmouth were enjoying their best spell in terms of possession, but failed to trouble McCarthy with any regularity. If they did get into the final third, our defence stood form.
Howard looked very unfortunate to have a goal disallowed following a supposed handball, and he was very prominent, then having a shot saved by Ashdown.
Portsmouth could easily have been down to nine men following an horrendously late challenge by sub Aaron Mokoena on Howard, and our man was lucky not to be injured, while the Pompey defender looked fortunate to be only shown a yellow. The visitors were flying into a fair few challenges as time and frustration got the better of them, but we remained calm.
Kitson had half a chance from a melee but we defended well, then sub Simon Church lashed home a beauty but it was disallowed.
The full time whistle saw us climb above Nottingham Forest into sixth position, and it was another excellent afternoon at Madejski Stadium in front of a very good crowd of close to 22,000.