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17:02 31st December 2011

Report: Another key win to end 2011

Reading 1 (Pearce 64)
Ipswich 0

Alex Pearce's third goal in seven games put Reading up to fifth in the npower Championship table, ending 2011 on a great note.

Pearce's second half header decided what was a tight game - and with a fourth consecutive win and clean sheet our team more than did its job at both ends despite not hitting top gear.

Chances were at a premium, and Ipswich could have taken the lead in the first half but Adam Federici denied Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.

Federici was excellent throughout, while the same Ipswich player clipped the bar at 0-0.

In the second half we found an extra gear and Pearce powered home Jobi McAnuff's cross with an important header beyond Arran Lee-Barrett.

Sub Hal Robson-Kanu should have made it 2-0, but it was of little concern as another good crowd went home happy.

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Cummings, Griffin, Gorkss, Pearce; Karacan (Tabb 85), Leigertwood, Kebe (Robson-Kanu 85), McAnuff (c); Church, Le Fondre (Hunt 62)
Subs: Andersen, Harte

Ipswich (4-4-2): Lee-Barrett; Edwards, Cresswell, Delaney, Sonko; Bowyer, Leadbitter (c) (Bullard 86), Emmanuel-Thomas, Martin (Carson 72); Chopra (Ellington 72), Murphy
Subs: Wright, Wabara
Booked: Sonko (foul 52)

Attendance: 18,737 (1,526 away)

Ref: J Waugh

Starting XI news:
The Royals were able to name an unchanged starting XI for the first time in December. Hal Robson-Kanu was fit enough to take a place on the bench. Ibrahima Sonko started for the visitors, but there was no room for another of our legends Ivar Ingimarsson.

First half:
Damien Delaney nearly put the ball in the back of the net with six minutes gone - and it was so nearly an own goal as he sliced a clearance a couple of yards wide of his team's left hand post. An excellent cross from Jobi McAnuff was soon defended for another Royal set piece, and Kaspars Gorkss then headed at Arran Lee-Barrett.

Reading had made a good start, but Ipswich came back into it; Jay Emmanuel-Thomas clipped the bar with a thunderous effort, before Michael Chopra steered one wide. Next to shoot was Aaron Cresswell, and he was not far off target from long range.

Jobi McAnuff was popping up on both flanks, and his excellent ball in from the right almost gave Adam Le Fondre a sniff of a chance. Jimmy Kebe then tried to supply the striker but his cross was rather too looped, and Town were able to snaffle possession.

Ipswich were a little more incisive than Reading would have liked, and Adam Federici made a super stop to deny Emmanuel-Thomas from close range after a nice team move - and that was the last notable action of the opening 45 minutes. Reading had started brighter but then Ipswich found their rhythm.

Second half:
Early in the period Reading were cruelly denied a great two-on-one break. Ibrahima Sonko scythed down Le Fondre, and Karacan was away down the left but bizarrely play was pulled back. Sonko was rightly booked, but it was little consolation as a real opportuinty was taken away from us.

It remained an even game, and a positive run from the lively Emmanuel-Thomas gave Michael Chopra a chance he dragged wide on the hour.

Reading took the lead just afterwards - Grant Leadbitter penalised for handball just outside the box, perhaps harshly. McAnuff took the delivery, and Alex Pearce simply seemed to want it the most - heading home from inside the six yard box.

Church was then very close to making it 2-0 from sub Noel Hunt's excellent cross, but Lee-Barrett just about smothered.

Ipswich were having a decent amount of possession, but we broke very well with ten minutes left and Kebe may have been better off passing than trying to go for goal.

Sub Hal Robson-Kanu should perhaps have made it 2-0 after Lee-Barrett dropped a cross at his feet, and then inside injury time Federici had to do well to deny Town sub Nathan Ellington on the edge of the six-yard box.

And that proved to be the last key moment - so Reading took a fourth straight win without conceding a goal.

At full time we moved up to fifth in the table, making it six wins out of the last seven games, quite some feat and we go into 2012 in very high spirits.

    Data provided by Press Association