Pavel nets early to earn Reading win
Reading 1 (Pogrebnyak 5)
West Ham 0
An early Pavel Pogrebnyak strike secured the Royals a gutsy three points against West Ham United.
A bold and brave defensive performance denied the Hammers a breakthrough, while the Royals had a number of chances to add to Pavel’s fifth minute goal.
The Russian took advantage of a mistake by Hammers defender James Collins – and coolly slotted home to crucially give the Royals an early lead.
The lively Jimmy Kebe linked up well with the Russian to create more chances, while at the other end Adam Federici performed admirably to keep the Hammers at bay.
Pogrebnyak had a goal disallowed for offside in the second half before a Jem Karacan was cruely denied a stunning strike by the underside of the crossbar.
The Royals defended heroically to close the game out – and reap three priceless Premier League points.
Reading: Federici; Gunter, Harte, Mariappa, Pearce; Karacan, Leigertwood, Kebe (Hal Robson-Kanu 75), McAnuff; Guthrie (Hunt 66); Pogrebnyak.
Subs not used: Taylor, Cummings, Morrison, Tabb, Le Fondre.
Booked: Pogrebnyak, Pearce, Harte.
West Ham: Jaaskelainen; Reid, Tomkins, O'Brien, Collins; Nolan, Jarvis, Taylor (Collison 55), Noble (Maiga 80), O'Neil (Vaz Te 68); Cole.
Subs not used: Spiegel, Spence, Demel, Diarra.
Booked: Noble, Nolan, Tomkins, Collins.
Referee: Mr M Oliver
Rivalries were renewed from last season as the Hammers arrived at a raucous but rain-soaked Madejski Stadium – and it took less than five minutes for the atmosphere to explode.
Lone striker Pavel Pogrebnyak misjudged Ian Harte’s floated pass, but shadowing defender James Collins fatally miskicked the bouncing ball – leaving the Russian striker clear through on goal to slot past Hammers goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.
The enraptured Royals had to be on their guard to deal with a couple of dangerous Hammers crosses – before the vivacious Jimmy Kebe linked up fantastically with Pogrebnyak to go close on two occasions.
Adam Federici, fresh from his clean sheet against Swansea, was called into action mid-way through the first half - and did magnificently well to tip over a close range header.
Feds did well to gather a well-placed Kevin Nolan effort but the Royals defended superbly to go into the break with a one-goal advantage.
Like they did at the start of the first 45, the Royals had the ball in the net. But this time, Mikele Leigertwood’s perfectly threaded ball and another cool Pogrebnyak finish would count for nothing, as the striker was marginally offside.
The Royals had their hearts in their mouth when Carlton Cole got something onto a cross from the left, but his effort thankfully flew over the bar.
But Reading reacted - pushing forward at every opportunity and forced the issue again when Jem Karacan raced forward, but the Turk’s lofted ball just evaded Pogrebnyak.
The encounter threatened to turn into a feisty one – but the Royals let their football do the talking, and came tantalisingly close to a second.
Soon after Federici palmed Jack Collison’s cross away, Reading marched up the other end – with Karacan unleashing a thunderous effort that Jaasskelainen somehow got a finger to, before it agonisingly cannoned back off the bar.
With ten minutes to play, the Royals were hanging on. Right back Chris Gunter came to the Royals rescue with a heroic clearance wide of the goal, before substitute Ricardo Vaz Te missed a sitter as he headed wide.
Reading, though, could have sealed the win when a number of Royals broke forward on West Ham’s goal – but the final ball just wouldn’t come off and the Hammers survived.
The Royals defended like heroes and professionally saw out the game – notching a second successive clean sheet and, more importantly, earning three valuable points to the delight of the deafening Madejski faithful.