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17:02 9th April 2011

Report: Amazing late win for Royals

Forest 3 (Boyd 37(p), Earnshaw 50, McGugan 88(p))
Reading 4 (Harte 20, Karacan 53, Kebe 61, Church 90)

Reading earned an incredible 4-3 win away to Nottingham Forest in one of the best games of football you could care to see.

An injury time goal from Simon Church saw us win a seven-goal thriller, and we fully deserved to inflict only a second home loss in 40 games on Billy Davies' side.

We took the lead three times, and even though a very late penalty looked to have snatched a draw for Forest we responded superbly. The character, resolve and quality - once again - cannot be underestimated.

We had heroes all over the pitch, while Brian McDermott again deserves credit for his very positive team selection, as well as pushing for the win at every opportunity - it was a quite incredible win and anyone lucky enough to be at the City Ground will go home with great memories of a top Reading team.

Reading (4-4-2): McCarthy; Griffin, Harte, Ingimarsson (c), Khizanishvili; Karacan, Leigertwood, Kebe (Robson-Kanu 80), McAnuff; Long, Manset (Church 73)
Subs: Federici, Pearce, Howard, Tabb, Antonio
Booked: Griffin (dissent 87)

Forest (4-4-2): Camp (c); Gunter, Lynch (Konchesky 67), Chambers, Morgan; Majewski, Moussi (Tyson 67), McCleary, McGugan; Boyd (Adebola 73), Earnshaw
Subs: Darlow, Moloney, McGoldrick, Tudgay
Booked: Earnshaw (foul 55)

Attendance: 22,495 (1,428 away)

Ref: C Pawson

Starting XI team news
Reading made two changes to the starting XI, Mathieu Manset making his first start and Mikele Leigertwood also coming in, Brian Howard and Jay Tabb moving to the bench. Adam Federici was also among the subs after an injury lay-off.

First half
The first ten minutes were played at a slightly cagey pace, and an excellent ball from Zurab Khizanishvili gave Shane Long what looked like a sight of goal 12 yards out, but he nodded down for Mathieu Manset and his effort was blocked. Robert Earnshaw then shot well wide on the volley, before Long's cross almost found Manset inside the box.

After gradually coming more and more into the game, Reading took the lead in fine style on 20 minutes. Long was brought down right on the edge of the box, and it was almost inside the area - but with Ian Harte on free kick duty it was almost as good as a penalty! From a very difficult angle Harte curled home superbly past Lee Camp, often cited as one of the division's top goalkeepers, and it was a superb strike for his ninth Reading goal of the season. The Irishman ran to Brian McDermott to celebrate - the goal was a gift for his 50th birthday!

Another superb Harte delivery nearly led to a second on 35 minutes, but such was the power that Manset couldn't keep his flicked header down, and his effort from close range flew over - a tougher chance than it looked.

Sadly Forest then got back into the game, Lewis McGugan winning a penalty after going down in the box under a challenge from Mikele Leigertwood. Our man didn't make contact with the ball, and that allowed the Forest midfielder to go to ground. The referee initially waved away the protests - but the linesman flagged for a spot kick that Kris Boyd tucked away expertly.

After being on the back foot, Forest then had their tails up and Alex McCarthy had to parry a swerving long range effort from Garath McCleary.

Jimmy Kebe then went on a decent run but was stopped just outside the box, and another Harte free kick had Camp scrambling but he parried away.

Second half
Yet another great Harte delivery early in the second half gave Manset a sight of goal, but he couldn't hit the target with his header and it went agonisingly wide.

We then had another good opportunity on the break as Manset charged forward, and his pass to Leigertwood was narrowly behind him, but the midfielder still found Long, who looked for Kebe but he was not in the right spot and a good chance went begging.

It was a very open start to the half, and Forest then went on a break of their own before Jobi McAnuff had a decent long range shot blocked.

After Reading had started the period very well, it was Forest who nudged themselves in front with a good turn and finish from Robert Earnshaw, a classy goal giving McCarthy no chance.

But we responded magnificently, Jem Karacan powering home a cracking header from Harte's corner just three minutes later - the Royals showing fabulous character to get straight back into the game.

We then really turned the screw, and Kebe nearly scored from a wonderful Leigertwood pass but his chipped effort was narrowly wide as Camp raced out of his box.

Kebe then blasted a thunderous strike goalwards at the near post, but Camp was on hand to save dramatically.

So it was no surprise when we scored a third - and no surprise that Kebe got it. McAnuff's corner evaded Camp, and Ivar Ingimarsson showed good feet to find his defensive partner Khizanishvili inside the opposition area. The Georgian also did exceptionally well to drop the shoulder and get a shot in on goal - it was blocked and Kebe lashed home with a great strike to send our fans into raptures.

We almost had a quick fourth when Andy Griffin went on a super run down the right, and Long left it for McAnuff but the winger perhaps wasn't expecting it and could only fire over.

Forest made a double change in a bid to get back into the game, and one of their subs Nathan Tyson had a decent chance but the former Reading man shot off target inside the area.

The home side thought they had a penalty shout inside the last five minutes but McAnuff had slipped and brought a Forest man down with him so nothing was given.

But they did get a spot kick a moment later when Hal Robson-Kanu was harshly penalised for a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge, and it was a decision that incensed our players, but Lewis McGugan stroked home for 3-3.

The drama was not over though - Griffin's ball over the top found Karacan, and his beautiful low cross was turned past Lee Camp by sub SimonChurch in the dying stages.

It was an amazing end to an amazing game - and the Reading fans behind the goal had enjoyed an amazing afternoon in the sun. This team simply cannot be written off and McDermott's understated management continues to get the very best out of a group of players with great character, resolve and quality.

    Data provided by Press Association