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16:00 21st December 2013

Wigan cling on

Reading 1 (Pogrebnyak 67) 
Wigan Athletic 2 (McCann 10, Powell 12) 

A stirring second half Royals performance was not enough to turn around a two goal deficit, inflicted within the space of two early first half minutes by Wigan Athletic this afternoon. 

Uwe Rosler's men struck with the first effort on target, Chris McCann powerfully placing a right-footed effort past Alex McCarthy after a swift break led by McArthur and McClean had caught Reading out. 

And moments later, Wigan had a decisive second when Alex Pearce misread a clearance in the swirling winds and Nick Powell capitalised, scurrying in on goal and slotting under McCarthy for 2-0. 

Reading's second half display brought the crowd to life as Nigel Adkins' men threw everything at their opponents, spurred on by a superb header from Pavel Pogrebnyak that brilliantly pulled a goal back. 

Wingers Jordan Obita and Garath McCleary were playing at full back near the end, Adam Le Fondre was thrown on to make it three strikers on the pitch for the Royals, and despite Billy Sharp's missed penalty, Pogrebnyak came so close to deservedly levelling with a thunderous drive that Al Habsi somehow kept out with a right palm. But Wigan left with the points. 

Reading: McCarthy; Gunter, Cummings (Obita HT), Pearce (McCleary 59), Gorkss; Williams, Guthrie, Drenthe (Le Fondre 72), McAnuff (c), Sharp, Pogrebnyak.
Subs not used: Federici, Kelly, Akpan, Blackman. 
Yellow: Williams 

Wigan Athletic: Al Habsi, Perch, Beausejour (Crainey 69), Barnett, Rogne, McCann, Watson (c), McArthur, McManaman (Gomez HT), McClean, Powell (Keane HT).
Subs not used: Nicholls, Shotton, Ramis, Holt. 
Yellow: Beausejour, Watson, Perch, Gomez, Crainey.

Referee: Mr G Sutton 
Att: 18,336 (312 away) 

After a relatively calm opening ten minutes, Wigan turned the fixture on its head with an early opener. Breaking at pace, McArthur found McClean in space on the left side of the box but two players slid in to successfully block the strike at goal. It cannoned back to McClean though, who teed the ball up for McCann who firmly sidefooted inside the left post to make it 1-0. 

Two minutes later, Athletic doubled their advantage. A ball forward into the swirling wind was misread by Alex Pearce and the ball bounced into the path of Nick Powell. A touch into the box and he rifled low under McCarthy and into the bottom left corner to make it 2-0. 

A shellshocked Royals side took some time to recover from those early setbacks, but Royston Drenthe was providing the spark of urgency and after two excellent crosses from either side caused some panic in the Wigan defence. 

His quick feet on the half hour found Gunter who crossed deep to Pogrebnyak on the far corner of the box. He skipped away from his man and thundered a left-footed effort at goal which Al Habsi did well to push over. 

From the resultant Guthrie corner, Kaspars Gorkss headed inches over and the home crowd were beginning to rouse their team. 

And moments later, Guthrie on the left found Pogrebnyak scuttling in from the wing, and his reverse pass into Sharp gave the striker a glimpse of goal, Sharp's drive deflected just wide by a last ditch sliding challenge.

Four minutes before the interval, Chris Gunter had to block an effort from McManaman, after the midfielder had twisted and turned his way into a shooting position on the edge of the six yard box. 

McAnuff tried his luck from distance a couple of times, but Al Habsi remained untroubled and the Royals had a lot of work to do as they headed down the tunnel at half-time. 


Three changes were made at half-time, one by Reading and two by Uwe Rosler. Shaun cummings was replaced by Jordan Obita for the hosts, while McManaman and Powell were take off and Gomez and Keane on in their place. 

Seven minutes into the second half and Reading earned a chance to get back into the game. A lovely touch from Drenthe fed Williams who turned his man and toed it through to the overlapping Gunter who was pulled back by Beausejour. 

Referee Mr Sutton pointed to the spot and Billy Sharp stepped up to take a penalty, but skied his effort over the crossbar to the home fans' dismay. 

Four minutes later Sharp got a chance to make immediate amends, the striker played in by Drenthe scuttling towards the Wigan goalmouth and shooting only to see Al Habsi parry it. 

Alex McCarthy had to make a great save from a Gomez strike that was bending all way way towards his bottom right corner, but the home side were throwing the kitchen sink at their visitors, Adkins replacing Alex Pearce with Garath McCleary to leave only two recognised defenders on the pitch. 

And McCleary's burst down the right and low near post cross almost unlocked the Latics defence, Barnett almost turning past his own keeper but Al Habsi managing to scramble it round his post. 

Then, Reading did pull one back with a wonderful header from Pogrebnyak. McAnuff found Guthrie on the right and his inswinging cross was quite brilliantly powered inside the left post and into the back of the net by the big Russian. 

Adam Le Fondre was thrown into the melee as the atmosphere ramped up in driving rain and sweeping winds at Madejski Stadium, and Guthrie fizzed a free kick wide of the bottom left corner with ten minutes remaining. 

McAnuff had a half-volley charged down and then Le Fondre turned and dragged an effort across the face of goal, neither Sharp nor Pogrebnyak able to slide in to touch it home. 

Reading kept coming at their opponents who were clinging onto their lead for dear life. A shout for handball was ignored but the referee and Al Habsi somehow saved a powerful left-footed drive with a flailing right wrist with five minutes remaining. 

Will Keane almost killed it with a breakaway chance that skidded inches wide of the bottom right corner, and then McCann smashed an effort over as Reading throwing caution to the wind left themselves short in numbers at the back. 

Pogrebnyak headed wide from a 90th minute corner before six minutes of additional time were signalled. 

Le Fondre hooked his left boot around a Pogrebnyak knock down but it squirmed off a Wigan defender and into the arms of a sliding Al Habsi late on. 

And the equaliser never came, despite Reading's best efforts.