Reading 2 (Le Fondre 44, Guthrie 76)
Ipswich 1 (Tabb 16)
The Royals grabbed their first opening day win since 2006 with a 2-1 victory over Ipswich Town on Saturday afternoon.
Nigel Adkins’ side were a goal behind after Jay Tabb tore up the script, firing home with his weaker foot at the second attempt – having left Madejski Stadium this summer without a goal in his 105 Reading appearances!
But despite a shaky first half the home side rallied well – with Adam Le Fondre’s goal a minute before the interval proving to be a turning point.
Royston Drenthe and Garath McCleary both helped to rally the home crowd in the second period, but it was the impressive Danny Guthrie who bagged the winner – firing home via a slight deflection from 30 yards.
Reading: McCarthy, Gunter, Bridge, Morrison (C), Pearce, Karacan, Guthrie, McCleary, Robson-Kanu (Williams 67), Drenthe (McAnuff 80), Le Fondre (Pogrebnyak 83)
Subs: Federci, Gorkss, Kelly, Williams, Obita, McAnuff, Pogrebnyak
Booked: Karacan (30)
Ipswich Town: Loach, Hewitt, Chambers, Smith, Edwards (C)(Anderson 83), Skuse, Tabb, Mings , Hyam, McGoldrick (Nouble 82), Murphy (Taylor 76)
Subs: Berra, Anderson, Tunnicliffe, Veseli, Gerken, Taylor, Nouble
Booked: Mings (33), Hewitt (59)
Referee: Mr D Coote
Attendance: 20,546 (2,550)
The atmosphere was first class at Madejski Stadium as the 2013/14 Sky Bet Championship season got underway, with both sets of fans in full voice.
The Royals started brightly, zipping the ball across a plush green surface and dictating the tempo in the opening stages.
But the Tractor Boys didn’t take long to wake up – and they did so in remarkable fashion.
The ever popular Jay Tabb made 105 appearances for the Royals without finding the net, but stunned Madejski Stadium as he forced Alex McCarthy into a smart save before slamming home the rebound with his weaker right foot. Fifteen minutes gone and Reading found themselves a goal down.
Nigel Adkins’ side almost responded 11 minutes before half time after a fantastic crossfield pass by Danny Guthrie released Chris Gunter into the area, but the Welsh international’s first time cutback was well intercepted.
It was a frustrating period for the home side though, who were struggling to find their feet again – but with less than a minute to go in the half they dragged themselves back into contention.
After a dangerous Drenthe corner just missed a series of bodies in the box, Garath McCleary recycled the ball back into the area – where Adam Le Fondre made a nuisance of himself, heading home under pressure at the far post.
Reading rallied. McCleary again involved in first half stoppage time, forcing Scott Loach into a smart save from 20 yards.
That new found belief seemed to continue into the second half for the Royals, with McCleary a constant threat – weaving his way into the box 13 minutes in before slicing over the bar from a tight angle.
For Ipswich, Tabb continued to ooze confidence – striking an effort narrowly wide of McCarthy’s goal moments later.
With 62 minutes on the clock Reading almost scored a team goal which would have been a contender for best of the campaign, even on the first day.
A fantastic back flick from McCleary sent Drenthe away down the left flank, the Dutchman cut inside before sending a low ball into the area – where another deft back heel, this time from Le Fondre, snuck just the wrong side of Loach’s post.
With 62 minutes on the clock McCarthy pulled off a world class save for Reading, tipping away David McGoldrick’s blistering drive.
It was all action – Drenthe then saw a close range effort bravely kept out by Loach, before his second shot was blocked after cutting in from the right.
You felt a goal was coming, and sure enough it was provided – as Guthrie got himself on the scoresheet.
Reading’s number 20 attempted a speculative effort from all of 30 yards – which looked to take a slight deflection before looping home to send Madejski Stadium wild.
Substitute Paul Anderson saw a header saved by McCarthy as six minutes of stoppage time were announced, and naturally there were some nervy moments for the home side – but ultimately they held on to seal a pleasing opening day victory.