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MATCH REPORT

PUBLISHED
16:39 29th October 2016

Former Forest duo seal Royals victory

The curse of the ex-employee struck as Nottingham Forest were felled by goals from two of their former players at Madejski Stadium this afternoon.

Garath McCleary broke the deadlock with the game only ten minutes old, drilling the ball past Vladimir Stojkovic after the visiting keeper had failed to keep hold of a dipping John Swift strike. Then, in the second half, McCleary pulled a ball back for Chris Gunter to fire home a superb second.

Forest can, however, count themselves unlucky to have come up against a goalkeeper in fine, fine form - Ali Al Habsi saving brilliantly on a number of occasions to take the man of the match accolade and ease the Royals into fifth.

Manager Jaap Stam made two changes to the side that beat Rotherham in our last league outing, swapping Tyler Blackett in for Jordan Obita at left-back and handing the captain's armband back to Paul McShane in central defence.

Reading enjoyed the better of the early exchanges and neat passing between Kermorgant and McCleary almost released the latter, but the Royals winger was sandwiched off the ball by two Forest defenders and Vladimir Stojkovic mopped up.

And the former Forest man opened the scoring within 10 minutes of the first half. Reading opened up some space for Swift to unleash a powerful effort from 25 yards and Stojkovic couldn't hold it cleanly. It came out for McCleary to strike first time and he buried a right-footed finish inside the bottom right corner for 1-0.

Philippe Montanier's men looked to respond quickly and Al Habsi had to ensure an Osborn effort found side netting from a narrow angle, moments after Liam Moore was needed to hack clear a corner that had fallen for the right foot of Joe Worrall.

And Pajtim Kasami could easily have levelled matters with 26 minutes gone, a ball over the top was dinked central by the foot of Osborn and Kasami had a free header eight yards out that he thankfully directed straight into the palms of Al Habsi.

At the other end, Kermorgant came close to a second when a corner found its way to the Frenchman at the far post whose volley from a tight angle was threatening to float in off the left upright until a Forest head cleared it off the line.

Williams rifled a well-struck right-footed effort from range at goal and Stojkovic did well to get a hand to it and push it over his crossbar on the half hour mark.

Just before half-time, the visitors came very close to an equaliser. A ball dinked over the top saw Forest spring the offside trap and a header from Kasami was saved by Al Habsi. The ball rebounded against the backtracking McShane and Al Habsi had to claw the ball off his line to prevent an own goal and eventually the threat to goal disappeared when our Omani gathered the ball into his body.

Vellios still had time to hook an effort goalwards from the left side of the box, but Al Habsi was down well to save low to his left. And the in-form stopper was brilliant once more to save one-handed with a right glove to deny Eric Lichaj a spectacular equaliser on the stroke of half-time.

Half-time:Reading 1-0 Nottm Forest

Forest pressed hard for a way back into the game in the opening ten minutes of the second half and heaped pressure on the Reading back line. The best clear cut opportunity fell to Lichaj who found himself with the ball at his feet inside the box after a ricochet off two Reading players - but the Forest full back dragged his effort just wide.

But Reading scored a second on the hour mark and the former Forest connection came back to haunt our visitors again. McCleary scampered past his man down the right and pulled a low ball back into the box where Chris Gunter touched it past one defender and then hammered past Stojkovic for 2-0.

Beerens touched the ball inside for Swift to take aim, this time the midfield maestro arcing an effort over the crossbar. But Forest continued to look dangerous and Lansbury thought he'd won a penalty with 20 minutes left to play. Some nifty footwork saw him edge towards the edge of the area and draw a foul and the referee initially pointed to the penalty spot. But after a discussion with his assistant saw him change the decision to a free kick which Kasami smashed into the Reading wall.

Lansbury took aim from 25 yards out but the ball sailed harmlessly over, then Swift made progress to pull the ball back looking for substitute Callum Harriott in the middle only to see his ball cut out before it could reach the winger.

Worrall could only glance a back post header behind for a goal kick with five minutes of the game remaining, then Britt Assombalonga found the back of the net but only after the offside flag had been raised against him. And after six minutes of injury time, Reading walked away with all three points.

Full-time: Reading 2-0 Nottm Forest

Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter, Blackett, L Moore, McShane (c), Van den Berg (Evans 54), Swift, Williams, Beerens (Harriott 75), McCleary (Obita 90), Kermorgant.
Subs: S Moore, Watson, Kelly, Samuel.
Yellow: L Moore, Van den Berg, Williams.
Goals: McCleary (10), Gunter (62)

Nottm Forest: Stojkovic, Lichaj, Traore (Fox 60), Mills, Perquis, Lansbury, Cohen (c) (Dumitru-Cardoso 84), Kasami, Worrall, Osborn, Vellios (Assombalonga 58).
Subs: Henderson, Edser, Grant, Lica.
Yellow: Traore, Lansbury

Att: 17,093 (1,805 away)