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Report: Alfie wins it!

17 November 2012

Reading 2-1 Everton

Reading 2 (Le Fondre 51, 79)
Everton 1 (Naismith 10)

Adam Le Fondre's brace was enough to see of Champions League chasers Everton on Saturday afternoon, as Brian McDermott's men came from a goal down to seal a memorable victory.

The Royals had fallen behind to Steven Naismith's close range effort in the first ten minutes, but after a shaky first half - produced a scintillating display in the second period to blow away the Toffees, who had only lost one of their previous twenty league games.

'Alfie' equalised after heading home Nicky Shorey's pinpoint set-piece, before Reading's number nine won and converted a penalty ten minutes from time to edge in front.

There were naturally nerves in the dying stages, but after Fellaini hit the post with a trademark header - the home side saw out the result with little drama.

Madejski Stadium exploded with noise at the final whistle, and the emotions were clear to see on all faces sporting blue and white hoops. We knew it was coming!

First Half

Champions League chasing Everton started ominously well. Phil Jagielka was brilliantly denied by Federici from close range after a goalmouth scramble, before Nikica Jelavic scuffed a volley off target when found unmarked at the far post.

At the other end the Royals responded with a Nicky Shorey corner, which Adam Le Fondre flicked wide after a salmon-like leap. 

However, a lively Toffees side full of confidence took the lead ten minutes in. Jelavic recycled Gorkss' sliced header back into the six yard box, where Fellaini caused typical havoc before Steven Naismith arrived last to bundle the ball home.

McDermott's men looked for an immediate response; Le Fondre did brilliantly to chase down Tim Howard and nip the ball past the visiting 'keeper, but under pressure - and with men chasing back, good only chip over the bar from the edge of the area. 

David Moyes felt his side a decent shout for a penalty 18 minutes in as Naismith tumbled under a Gorkss challenge on the right hand side of the box, but referee Martin Atkinson waved play on - with his assistant well positioned.

The men in black possession danger men all over the park, as Piennar robbed Gunter before scuttling to the edge of the D - and firing just wide.

With nine minutes remaining in the half the man known as "the hammer" showcased the origins of his nickname, as Hitzlsperger lashed a left footed drive at goal from 25 yards - which stung the palms of Federici. 

Moments later Naismith's clever flick sent Osman in on goal, but the England international was brilliantly denied by a brave Federci stop. 

Roberts attempted to regain some momentum for his side, bot could only fire a long range volley well over Howard's bar. 

Everton were playing some fantastic football at times, and almost doubled their lead four minutes before the break as Jelavic slammed a rebound back towards goal - only to be denied by Sean Morrison, who threw himself in front of the shot. The ball looked to strike the defender's hand, although there was certainly no intent on his behalf.

Jay Tabb also had to be alert to punt away Jagielka's well placed header from his own goal line. 

Mikele Leigertwood had a decent opportunity to level the scores a minute later - but could only head Shorey's corner over the bar. 

Second Half

Whatever was said at half-time seemed to have a tangible effect on the Royals - who came out bright-eyed, bushy tailed - and were rewarded with an equaliser.

Jay Tabb's clever spin won a free-kick 30 yards from goal - and Shorey's resulting set-piece was well crafted, allowing Le Fondre to rise well and head home.

Everton did look to fight back again - but Morrison was throughly endearing himself to the home support, following a wonderful last ditch tackle up with a great diving block to deny a swift Toffees breakaway on the left flank. 

Roberts and Le Fondre were also clicking up top - as the former battled hard to win the ball back in midfield before sliding in 'Alfie', who scuffed his shot slightly into the arms of Howard.

Le Fondre was still brimming with confidence however, as he deliciously trapped a spinning ball 20 yards from goal before turning and curling an effort wide of the post. 

At the other end "The Hammer" was at it again, as Hitzlsperger cracked a volley inches wide of Federici's goal.

Hearts were in the visitors mouths in the 82nd minute when the Royals mounted a rapid counter attack, out numbering the Everton back line as Roberts broke forward - but his through ball to Le Fondre couldn't quite give Reading's number nine a shot at goal.

But, four minutes later - Alfie's chance came.

Gunter's lofted cross was a teasing one, and as Le Fondre waited to chest it down he was bundled to the ground by Coleman. Penalty given.

The prolific number nine made no mistake, dusting himself off before sending Howard the wrong way to bag a brace.

The nerves then started to jangle. Almost immediately Fellaini rose to head towards goal, only to see his effort somehow rebound back off the inside of the post and away.

However, after that - the Royals saw out the result with little drama. The final whistle was greeted by jubilant celebrations on and off the field - and the feel good factor was most certainly back at Madejski Stadium. 

Reading: Federici; Gunter, Shorey, Morrison, Gorkss; Leigertwood, Tabb, Robson-Kanu, McAnuff (c); Le Fondre (Hunt 81), Roberts.

Subs: Taylor, Cummings, Mariappa, Harte, McCleary, Hunt, Pogrebnyak

Booked: Gorkss, Roberts. Hunt

Everton: Howard, Baines, Jagielka, Heitinga, Coleman, Pienaar, Hitzlsperger (Vellios 82), Fellaini, Osman, Naismith (Oviedo 82), Jelavic.

Subs: Mucha, Oviedo, Distin, Duffy, Vellios, Junior, Kennedy

Booked: Coleman 

Referee: Martin Atkinson 

Attendance: 24,181 (2,182) - Stadium Record

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