Reading 2 (Kebe 6, 86)
Sunderland 1 (Gardner 29)
Another late show from the Royals saw off Sunderland on Saturday afternoon, as Reading ran out deserved 2-1 winners at Madejski Stadium.
Jimmy Kebe opened the scoring early on with a well taken finish, after great work by Jobi McAnuff, before Craig Gardner leveled from the spot after Pavel Pogrebnyak brought down John O'Shea.
The home side created a number of chances in an entertaining second half - and it was Kebe that won it, rising well at the far post to nod home the winner.
Reading: Federici; Kelly, Harte, Mariappa, Pearce; Akpan, Leigertwood, McAnuff (c); McCleary (Le Fondre 64), Kebe; Pogrebnyak (Blackman 71)
Subs: Taylor, Shorey, Morrison, Karacan, Guthrie, Blackman, Le Fondre
Booked: McAnuff (Foul 1)
Sunderland: Mignolet, Gardner, Colback, Bramble, O'Shea (c); N'Diaye, Vaughan (McClean 62), Larsson (Rose HT), Johnson, Sessegnon (Graham 79), Fletcher
Subs: Westwood, Mangane, Rose, Bardsley, McClean, Wickham, Graham
Booked: Gardner (Foul 20), Bramble (foul 33), Sesengon (foul 55)
Attendance: 23,829 (2,171)
The first chance of the game resulted in the first goal – and it went to the Royals!
Jobi McAnuff had picked up a booking just 50 seconds into the game, but he didn’t let that phase him – as he danced in from the left wing five minutes later before rolling a ball into the area – allowing Jimmy Kebe to brilliantly wrong foot his marker before firing into the top corner.
The Royals were starting with confidence, as might have been expected after the magnificent comeback against Chelsea – and pushed forward in search of a second.
However the visitors had quality too, with Alfred N’Diaye forcing a good save out of Adam Federici in the 25th minute, before the Australian stopper did brilliantly to deny Seb Larsson’s follow up.
Three minutes later, there was a more golden opportunity for the Black Cats. Pogrebnyak initially did well to nip the ball away from John O’Shea, but his follow up challenge was mis-timed – and after consulting with his assistant referee Liam Mason pointed to the spot.
Gardner made no mistake, firing an unstoppable penalty kick into the bottom left hand corner.
The Royals tried to respond immediately, again through Kebe, but after controlling well thirty yards from goal the Malian crashed his drive over the bar.
Ian Harte, appearing against his former paymasters, also sent a long range shot in at goal – but saw it bobble harmlessly wide of Mignolet’s post.
And Mingolet had to be more alert seconds later, as a wonderful set piece from Ian Harte was headed towards goal by Pogrebnyak, forcing Sunderland’s stopper to spring low to his right and brilliantly palm away from goal.
There was controversy shortly afterwards too. McAnuff did brilliantly to force his way into the box and appeared to have be bundled over inside the area, only for the referee to wave play on – before penalising the Reading skipper for a loose challenge as he attempted to regain possession.
Again Reading started the half with their tails up, dominating possession and forcing their opponents onto the back foot.
Harte’s zipping free-kick was tipped away from goal by Mignolet – and Pearce nodded wide after Kebe recycled the rebound.
There was another opportunity for Harte to showcase his set piece skills a minute later, after Pogrebnyak brilliantly dummied the ball 20 yards from goal, enabling McAnuff to spin and win a free kick just to the left of the D.
The Royals number 23 stepped up, but saw his effort well blocked by the Black Cats’ wall.
The atmosphere raised a notch with half an hour remaining, as the increasingly iconic image of Adam Le Fondre emerged from the dugout – replacing Garath McCleary to a huge ovation.
There was also a debut for Nick Blackman, as the 23-year-old replaced Pavel Pogrebnyak with 19 minutes remaining.
It was Adrian Mariappa who would rattle the crossbar five minutes later, as he got his head on Harte’s in-swining corner – only to be denied by the woodwork.
At the other end Adam Johnson’s well weighted through ball allowed N’Diaye to power into the right side of the box, but the giant midfielder could only lash wide of goal.
New Sunderland signing and substitute Danny Graham entered the fray for the last ten minutes, and was twice denied by brilliant Reading blocks – firstly by Stephen Kelly, before Federci superbly tipped a driven header over the bar.
Graham’s headers weren’t quite enough to end the parity – but at the other end, Jimmy Kebe showed how it was done!
Blackman did well to win a free-kick on the right wing, and Jimmy rose brilliantly to meet another cracking Harte set piece, nodding in to send Madejski Stadium wild.
There were three minutes of additional time for McDermott’s men to hold onto their lead – and they did so with admirable composure. Another win and the rise continues!