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A winning start!

13 July 2013

Alfie, Pog & Williams earn 3-1 scoreline

Reading 3 (Le Fondre 19, Pogrebnyak 76, Williams 90)
Wycombe Wanderers 1 (Morgan 62 pen)

Nigel Adkins' men got off to a winning start in pre-season with a 3-1 victory over Gareth Ainsworth's Wycombe Wanderers at Hogwood Park this afternoon.

It was no surprise that the opening goal of 2013-14 came from last season's top scorer, Adam Le Fondre heading home from close range after Royston Drenthe's free kick had been too hot to handle for Wycombe stopper Matt Ingram.

In searing heat, the game had a good tempo and was competitive throughout and the Royals made a full set of changes at half time, but Wycombe drew level from the penalty spot courtesy of former Royals winger Dean Morgan.

Reading pressed for a winner and with 11 minutes left, Pavel Pogrebnyak rose in a crowded box to head home Jobi McAnuff's inswinging corner from 8 yards out.

And debutant Danny Williams put the icing on the cake by adding a third with virtually the last kick of the game, passing home Garath McCleary's low cross to make it 3-1.

22 men got 45 minutes of competitive pre-season football under their belt and the Royals will be pleased with a win and a very good workout ahead of a week-long trip to Portugal which begins on Sunday.

Reading (first half): Taylor, Gunter, Bridge, Morrison, Gorkss, Karacan, Guthrie, Drenthe, Obita, Blackman, Le Fondre. 
Reading (second half): Federici, Kelly, Cummings, Pearce, Mariappa, Williams, Akpan, Taylor, McAnuff, McCleary, Pogrebnyak.

Wycombe: Ingram (Horlock 55), Arnold (Morias 65), Dunne (Triallist 55), Stewart (Johnson 68), Hause (Fletcher 68), Cowan-Hall (Kuffour 55), Lewis (Kewley-Graham 55), Spring (Kretzschmar 68), Wood, Morgan (Pittman 55), Triallist.

First Half

And it was Bridge who forced the first meaningful save of the match, bombing forward down the left, latching onto a cheeky backheel from Jordan Obita and forcing Matt Ingram into a smart stop.

It became immediately apparent that 45 minutes of football in such sky high temperatures would be about all anyone could expect from the players in their first pre-season runout of the new season and Nigel Adkins started the game with two newcomers, Wayne Bridge at left-back and Royston Drenthe on the right side of midfield.

Just before the 20 minute mark, the Royals took the lead. Nick Blackman squirmed through the centre of midfield and was clipped as he scurried towards goal. Royston Drenthe stood over the free kick and curled it around the wall only for Ingram to save well.

Blackman was the first to react but could only stab it onto the woodwork from a tight angle, but with the keeper floored the ball dropped kindly for Adam Le Fondre, who had a simple finish, nodding over the line and into the empty net for 1-0. 

Wycombe were more than holding their own and proved a stern test in a high-tempo first half. And Stewart forced Stuart Taylor into a stunning close range save when he powered a header goalwards from Spring's free kick.

At the other end, Obita found some space down the left and floated a lovely cross into the middle which Nick Blackman rose to try to connect with, but sandwiched between two defenders he couldn't make contact and direct the ball towards goal.

And just before the break there could have been goals at either end. Paris Cowan-Hall found a yard just inside the Royals box but dragged his right-footed effort just wide of the bottom left corner.

Then Drenthe's low cross into the near post was scuffled behind and, from the resultant set piece, Kaspars Gorkss looped a header goalwards which Ingram had to be on his guard to turn over the crossbar.

Second half

11 changes at the break allowed Danny Williams to take a place in the Royals midfield for the first time, but it was young Jake Taylor who had the first shot on goal; Stephen Kelly powered forward down the right and reached the byline, cut the ball back well, but Taylor couldn't keep his first time effort down and it spooned over the crossbar.

Reading were beginning to turn the screw, pressing hard for a second goal. McCleary scuttled into the area from the right and Horlock had to dive at the winger's feet to deny him a clean shot at goal, then a cross from the right was headed just over by Alex Pearce at the far post.

On the hourmark, Jobi McAnuff thought he should have had a penalty. He scurried inside from the left, fed Pogrebnyak and continued his run looking for the one-two. But a handball seemed to intercept the slick move and yet the referee awarded nothing.

To rub salt into the wounds, moments later Wycombe were awarded a dubious spotkick at the other end! Kelly slid in and took the ball from Sam Wood but the referee pointed to the spot to the full back's surprise. Former Royal Dean Morgan stepped up and stroked the ball past Adam Federici to level from the spot.

With 20 minutes remaining, Pogrebnyak found McAnuff with a good pull back but the skipper's first time shot spiralled off a Wycombe leg and flew just wide of the top left corner. Then Williams saw a low drive charged down too as Nigel Adkins' men tried to regain their advantage.

Finally, the home side's pressure told with a quarter of an hour left to play, Jobi McAnuff's inswinging corner was met by the towering Pavel Pogrebnyak who directed a downward header through a crowded box and inside the left post for 2-1.

Hope Akpan arrowed a right-footed effort just over the bar shortly afterwards, before Danny Williams added a third in the dying stages; the midfielder strode onto McCleary's low cross and calmly swept home from 12 yards out to make it 3-1.


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