Brilliant win for RoyalsNottm Forest 2 (Cox 40, Henderson 60)
Reading 3 (Pogrebnyak 8, Gorkss 14, Obita 74)
The Royals picked up a superb away victory over Nottingham Forest at the City Ground on Friday evening.
Nigel Adkins' men blew their opponents away in the opening half hour; as former Red Garath McCleary danced superbly in from the right before crossing for Pavel Pogrebnyak to tap home. Kaspars Gorkss then powered an unstoppable header past Karl Darlow from Danny Guthrie's cross, and at that stage it looked like a straight forward victory for Reading.
Billy Davies' side however showed great fight; pulling one back through former Royal Simon Cox before the break, whilst on the hour mark another former Madejski man haunted his former club - as substitute Darius Henderson coolly finished from the left hand side of the box.
Jamie Mackie then came within inches of edging his side ahead as he saw a chip bounce back off the crossbar with McCarthy stranded - and it was to prove costly for the home side.
A cross from the right was superbly dummied by the influential Danny Williams, and the ball fell at the feet of Jordan Obita - who swept home his first ever Reading goal.
There was more drama to suffer as Reading were forced to see out the game with ten men after Chris Gunter picked up a second booking, after a seemingly harsh initial yellow card - but the visitors showed great fight to see out the game. Three points it was; only the fourth defeat for Forest at the City Ground in the calendar year.
Royals: McCarthy; Gunter, Kelly, Pearce, Gorkss; Guthrie (C), Williams, McCleary, Obita (Sharp 78); Hal Robson-Kanu (McAnuff 68), Pogrebnyak (Blackman 78)
Booked: Pogrebnyak (Foul 47), Gunter (time wasting 56)
Red Card: Chris Gunter (two bookable offences)
Booked: Harding (Foul 68), Lascelles (Foul 89), Lansbury (foul 90)
Attendance: 21,199 (886)
The Royals travelled to the City Ground for an unusual Friday night fixture, not televised - but moved due to a fixture clash for the home side with Notts County.
That mattered little to the travelling fans though, as they saw their side take the lead in the flesh after just eight minutes. Wonderful work by former Forest man Garath McCleary on the right wing saw the wideman weave into the box before sending a deadly ball into the area - which Pavel Pogrebnyak dutifully bundled home. McCleary had heard a smattering of boos ring out across the stadium as the ball first fell to his feet, but soon silenced the critics at his one time paymasters.
It was a bright start from Nigel Adkins' men. A brilliant turn and pass from Hal Robson-Kanu set Obita away down the left moments later, before the youngster saw his shot deflected wide for a corner. And from that set piece - Reading made it two. Danny Guthrie's delivery was superb, and Kaspars Gorkss thundered an unstoppable header past the helpless Karl Darlow.
The away side continued to frustrate the opposition in the opening exchanges, though Forest eventually came to life shortly after the half hour mark. Chris Gunter superbly blocked a Simon Cox shot, whilst Henri Lansbury curled inches wide from the edge of the area.
At the other end McCleary showed another dazzling side to his game - putting on the after burners to latch onto Robson-Kanu's through ball, but firing wide after an exhibition of electric pace.
Lansbury again then sprung into life for Davies' side - whipping past the post from long range. The net would soon ripple for the home side however - as they grabbed a goal back shortly before the break through former Royal Simon Cox.
A swift break down the right from Jamie Mackie caught the Royals napping, and a clinical ball across the area allowed the frontman to tap home at the far post.
There was a double substitution for Forest at the break; Andy Reid and another former Royal Darius Henderson introduced, and it wasn't long until the latter was in on the action - firing a rasping drive over the bar from 25 yards.
The Royals barely had a chance to catch their breath before Henderson was involved again - sliding a shot on the turn narrowly past McCarthy's post.
Adkins' men tried to stem the flow but Nottm Forest looked bright - as Mackie was only denied from eight yards by a combination of superb defending from Obita and a smart McCarthy reaction save.
There was a repeat minutes later, Mackie this time with a looping header which the Reading stopper did well to tip away from danger.
The attacks were relentless and perhaps it wasn't a surprise when the equaliser on the hour mark. Henderson was slide through on the left of the box, and made no mistake in sliding the ball smoothly into the far corner.
The men from Berkshire were on the ropes at this stage. Williams was bundled to the floor in midfield as Forest found themselves with a golden chance to go ahead, but as Mackie chipped McCarthy at the end of the breakaway - the Royals were saved by the crossbar.
But, football is a funny old game - and perhaps like the Royals had suffered a goal conceded against the run of play in the first half, so Forest did in the second.
Danny Williams did well to dummy a cross from the right and flummox his marker, allowing Jordan Obita to bundle home from the left for his first ever Reading goal.
That momentum seemed to be changing again - Pearce having a chance as a corner was only half clearled, but the defender clipped a tough half volley over the bar with his wrong foot.
That pendulum just wouldn't stop swinging however, as the Royals were reduced to ten men with ten minutes to go. Chris Gunter is not having much luck at the moment with refereeing decisions; an earlier booking for supposed time wasting had seemed very harsh, before he picked up a second for a foul on the edge of the box.
Despite their numerical disadvantage Adkins' side did manage a breakaway not long after they saw their full back march down the tunnel. Substitute McAnuff sprinted up field and fed Williams, who saw his shot held by Darlow.
You have the feeling there was a storm to be weathered in the dying stages; it seemed to start in earnest with 87 minutes on the clock as Guthrie did well to block Cox's shot away from goal, but in truth never really materialised.
The ten men held on for a superb victory - just Forest's fourth defeat at home in the calendar year.