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Billy seals away victory

14 December 2013

Sharp header separates sides

Huddersfield Town 0
Reading 1 (Sharp 32)

Billy Sharp's half hour header sealed all three points for Nigel Adkins' side at the John Smiths Stadium this afternoon, Reading picking up their second successive win away from home against a well-drilled Huddersfield Town side.

The decisive finish came in a flowing move that started with Royston Drenthe's surging run from midfield, Jordan Obita collecting it from the Dutch midfielder and feeding the impressive Pogrebnyak to his left, who crossed to Sharp at the far post. Sharp made no mistake, scoring a downward header - his second goal in three games - to hand the visitors the lead.

Huddersfield pressed for a route back into the game, hitting the post late in the second half and Danny Ward in particular forcing Alex McCarthy into a number of very good saves.

But three valuable points were secured quite comfortably in the dying stages as Reading kept the ball well from their opponents to clinch a good win on the road.

Huddersfield: Smithies (c), Lynch, Gerrard, Smith; Dixon, Gobern (Holmes 73), Clayton, Norwood, Hammill (Scannell 81); Ward, Paterson (Lopez 81).
Subs not used: Bennett, Woods, Wallace, Southern.
Yellow: Norwood, Lynch
Red: Lynch

Reading: McCarthy; Gunter, Cummings, Pearce, Gorkss; Williams, Obita (Akpan 80), McAnuff (c), Drenthe (McCleary 71), Sharp (Blackman 71), Pogrebnyak.
Subs not used: Federici, Kelly, Robson-Kanu, Le Fondre. 
Yellow: Williams

Referee: Mr O Langford

The Royals began the game on the front foot, passing the ball well and keeping the early play in the Huddersfield half. 

Only a minute in and Reading had their first fleeting glimpse of goal in fact, Royston Drenthe's inswinging free kick nodded wide of the bottom right corner by Kaspars Gorkss who did as well as could have been expected with a difficult header. 

The home side began to exert some pressure of their own though as the half got going, Adam Hamill forcing Alex McCarthy into the first save of the afternoon, diving low to his left to comfortably save the midfielder's strike from distance. 

20 minutes on the clock and left-back Dixon made good progress down the left, cut inside his man to scuttle into the box and lashed a shot across the face of the Royals' goal and wide. 

Paterson twice came close to springing the offside trap, the first time he was flagged as he bore down on McCarthy's goal and the second saw him instinctively sky an effort over the bar before the referee's assistant could signal for the same. 

Sharp then made good progress down the right and fed Pogrebnyak who took a touch into the box but we swiftly dispossessed before he could get a shot away, the Town defender sliding in to concede a corner. 

Just before the half hour mark, Oscar Gobern tried his luck from the edge of the box but his left-footed arcing effort was easily gathered by McCarthy, and Alex Smithies dealt well with an inswining cross from Cummings at the other end shortly after. 

Then came the breakthrough. Royston Drenthe began the move, beating two men in midfield to feed Obita. He passed it into Pogrebnyak's path in space on the left, and the Russian's far post cross was headed home from close range by Sharp, angling his header down past Smithies who just couldn't claw it off his line.

Reading looked for a second, Obita touching it around the last defender and forcing the Huddersfield stopper into a tidy save as he whistled a low left-footed effort across the keeper from a tight angle.

McCarthy then produced the save of the game to keep the visitors ahead. Hammill whipped the cross into the box from the right and Ward's diving header was heading for the top corner before the Royals stopper flew through the air to tip it over.

Moments later, Reading broke at pace and threatened a second, McAnuff into Drenthe, who was fouled but the ball rolled into the path of Sharp who crossed just too deep for Pogrebnyak sliding in at the far post.

The Russian almost unlocked the Terriers' defence seconds later, scuttling into the box from the left side and cutting it back towards the penalty spot where a sliding Sharp scuffed an effort on target that Smithies scrappily gathered.


The second half started with difficult headers at each end, Paterson looping one over the crossbar before Gorkss arrived to connect with Drenthe's deep free kick but couldn't direct it on target.

Ward then collected a nice flick on and wriggled through a crowd to arrow a left-footed shot on target, but a superb Chris Gunter slide blocked the shot out for a corner which the Royals hacked clear.

On the hour, Sharp scurried onto an aerial ball that sailed over the head of Lynch and the striker hooked the ball overhead back to Drenthe just inside the Town box. The Dutchman chose to volley it first time with his left foot but his effort bobbled just wide of the right post.

Lynch then tried to make an impact at the other end, driving low at the Royals' goal from fully 30 yards but McCarthy was equal to it, getting down well to his left to push the defender's skidding effort away.

The home crowd were raising the volume levels and Huddersfield were responding and almost stole an equaliser. Williams was caught in possession in the centre circle and a pass was threaded into the path of Ward whose low drive forced McCarthy into a fantastic save, sliding low to his right to push it around his post.

Garath McCleary and Nick Blackman replaced Drenthe and Sharp with 20 minutes remaining, and McCleary forced Smithies into a save almost immediately, beating his man on the right to cut into the box and rifling low into the Terriers keeper's palms.

Then Duane Holmes came on for the hosts and made a similar impact with a driving run through the middle that led to a Dixon cross and a shot from Paterson that beat McCarthy and cannoned off the left post.

Another substitute Sean Scannell warmed the Reading keeper's gloves with a fizzing strike from the right side of the area with less than ten minutes remaining.

Then in the final couple of minutes, Pavel Pogrebnyak almost added a second. He pounced on a poor header to race towards goal from the half way line. Neat footwork took him past one man and he ran across the last man to unleash a powerful left-footed drive that was blocked by a last ditch slide and the ball skidded out for a corner.

As four minutes of injury time were signalled, the hosts broke at pace and a far post cross from the left was bundled inches wide by Scannell to the home crowd's dismay.

But the Royals were seeing the game out well, largely restricting their hosts to long balls forward in the final stages, and after an injury time red card for Joel Lynch, the final whistle sounded and Nigel Adkins' men had claimed all three points at the John Smiths Stadium.

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