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17:03 25th April 2011

Report: Blades earn comeback win

Reading 2 (Hunt 8, Robson-Kanu 17)
Sheffield United 3 (Henderson 29, 50, Williamson 45)

Reading saw a two-goal lead slip away from them as Sheffield United came from behind to take a very unexpected 3-2 win at Madejski Stadium this Easter Monday.

The Royals started superbly and scored twice early on, Noel Hunt then Hal Robson-Kanu scoring inside the first 20 minutes to put us in a great position.

We failed to capitalise though, and former Royal Darius Henderson put United back into the game with a skewed finish, and the visitors somehow took control of the game.

Lee Williamson scored a good goal right on half time to level matters, and Henderson stabbed home from a yard five minutes into the second half with for proved to be the winner.

Former Blade Brian Howard came off the bench to curl one against the crossbar, and that was as close as we came.

After a 13-game unbeaten run is it hard to be too critical of our players - but take nothing away from United, they belied their relegation-threatened status and fully deserved to win.

Reading: McCarthy; Griffin, Harte, Khizanishvili, Mills (c); Karacan (Howard 73), Leigertwood, McAnuff, Robson-Kanu (Antonio 65); Hunt (Manset 65), Long
Subs: Federici, Pearce, Tabb, Church

Sheff Utd (4-4-2): Simonsen; Lowton, Mattock, Collins, Lowry; Montgomery (c), Williamson, Riise, Quinn; Henderson, Slew (Tonne 76)
Subs: Aksalu, Roe, Kozluk, Doyle, Philliskirk

Attendance: 19,165 (460 away)

Ref: K Wright

Starting XI team news
Reading were unchanged from the previous game away at Leeds; Hal Robson-Kanu again starting on the left wing ahead of the injured Jimmy Kebe. Sheffield United included former Reading man Darius Henderson in their starting XI but only named six subs after a late injury withdrawal.

Chris Armstrong
The game was preceded by a fitting tribute to Chris Armstrong; the 28-year-old leading both teams onto the pitch and receiving a fantastic ovation from all four sides of the ground. Our captain Matt Mills and United skipper Nick Montgomery, a close friend of Chris', presented him with framed signed shirts on behalf of the two clubs.

First half
Reading started the game on the front foot, and Shane Long smacked a good fifth minutes strike over the bar after controlling a bouncing ball expertly.

Soon enough though it was 1-0 thanks to a nice team move. Jobi McAnuff picked up control of the ball wide on the right, and Long made space for the pass into feet. The winger obliged, and Long played in his fellow Irishman Noel Hunt first time, our number ten toe-poking a good finish high inside the near post, his tenth of the season.

It was soon close to 2-0 after another superb team move. Alex McCarthy found McAnuff with a great throw, and the winger was in on goal. With defenders nearby he played in Jem Karacan, and Steve Simonsem saved his shot well - Hunt hit a beauty on the rebound but it was deflected inches wide.

Reading were streets ahead, and Mikele Leigertwood tried his luck against his former team but headed over the bar.

Soon enough though it was 2-0. We profitted from an advantage down the right, McAnuff carrying on even though the linesman's flag went up, and he put in a good cross that Hal Robson-Kanu turned in from close range after a parry.

It was one way traffic, and McAnuff had an excellent curling effort saved by the busy Simonsen following good work by Long on the edge of the area.

Then, well against the run of play, United found a way back into the game. Former Reading man Darius Henderson found too much space for our liking on the edge of the box, turned away from our defence and mishit a fortunate finish into the corner for 2-1.

Henderson then tried another effort but McCarthy saved at the near post and United flashed a cross along the six-yard box. After being well out of the game, the visitors had found a foothold.

Hunt was then close to a third, but Simonsen was out smartly at his feet - any mistiming of the challenge and it would have been a penalty.

Simonsen was soon on hand to pull off another important save, this time denying Long from Ian Harte's good free kick. Down the other end, Jordan Slew hit a decent effort but it was well off target.

Then, against all the odds United got themselves on level terms with a nice goal - Stephen Quinn breaking well and Lee Williamson producing an excellent finish right into the corner.

Second half
After ending the first half so well, United carried that momentum forward after the interval and incredibly had the lead with 50 minutes gone, completing the turnaround.

Williamson took a free kick 25 yards out, and McCarthy made a fantastic save, but it fell for a United man and he recycled it into the box for Henderson to nod home from a yard.

At this stage United were well in control of the game, and had a goal disallowed when Henderson was penalised for blocking McCarthy's throw - perhaps harshly.

Williamson then shot wide from the edge of the box, and we responded with a double sub, bringing on both Mathieu Manset and Michail Antonio, then soon introducing Brian Howard as well.

All three subs looked to make an immediate impact, and Antonio did brilliantly to get into the area but was crowded out.

Then Howard curled a cracker against the crossbar with Simonsen beaten - so close to scoring against his former club for what would have been his first Madejski Stadium goal in Reading colours.

We huffed and puffed in search of an equaliser, but never created a real chance and when McAnuff curled over inside injury time that was that.

It is our first defeat since 12th February, and while the manner of defeat was of course disappointing, results mean that we can only now be denied a play-off position on goal difference - one more point from our last two games would be enough.

    Data provided by Press Association