Cox strike seals away winMiddlesbrough 0
Reading 1 (Cox 7)
The Royals earned a fantastic three points with a disciplined away display that saw Simon Cox's seventh minute finish separate the sides.
Cox finished a lovely passing move with the deftest of finishes, latching onto Ryan Edwards' throughball and placing the ball over Tomas Mejias and into the back of the net.
Middlesbrough had their chances, but Adam Federici saved well from Albert Adomah and LeeTomlin and the post saved the visitors when Adam Reach's cross deflected off Gunter and clattered into the woodwork with Federici helpless to do anything other than watch it.
But a second half display full of energy, hunger and desire, helped the Royals cling onto their lead with a degree of comfort in the second half. The Royals now go into an international break with a morale-boosting win under their belts.
- Cox scores seventh minute winner
- Federici makes excellent save from Adomah
- A deflected Reach cross cannons into near post
- Second win of season before international break
Middlesbrough: Mejias; Abella, Omeruo, Hines (Williams 76), Friend; Leadbitter, Clayton (Whitehead 76), Adomah, Reach; Tomlin (Bamford 59), Kike.
Subs: Dimi, Ledesma, Gibson, Ayala.
Reading: Federici; Gunter (c), Obita, Pearce, Hector; Kuhl (Akpan 53), Norwood (Cooper 82), Taylor, Edwards, Mackie, Cox (Tanner 55).
Subs: Andersen, Long, Stacey, Fosu.
Referee: Mr D Bond
Attendance: 14,970 (242 away)
Adam Clayton attempted the first shot on goal, three minutes into the match. A corner was swept out to him on the edge of the area but it bounced high on the midfielder who couldn't keep his shot down to trouble Adam Federici.
The hosts had started much the brighter side and Albert Adomah got a yard in front of Obita to drive an effort at goal that Federici did brilliantly to tip past his post and behind for a corner. Seb Hines met the set piece but headed just over the crossbar.
But in the seventh minute, the visitors scored with their first attack. A lovely exchange of passes out on the right side involving Gunter, Mackie and Kuhl led to Edwards threading the ball through to Cox, who coolly placed a bouncing ball over the onrushing Mejias and into the back of the net.
Moments later, Jake Taylor intercepted a crossfield ball and nodded the ball down for Edwards, but the Aussie snatched at his shot 25 yards out and curled well wide.
Obita then burst down the left and delivered a tasty cross for Cox, who got his head to it but could only glance it across the six yard box, winning a corner. The set piece was delivered deep to the far post where Pearce won the header and Boro had to hack off their goalline to avoid a second going in.
Two well-timed tackles from Pearce and then Norwood prevented Boro from getting a shot away midway through the half, but the Royals were keeping possession well and frustrating the home fans.
At the other end, Cox turned his man and tried his luck from more than 30 yards, but Mejias scampered across his goal well to calmly gather at his near post. Then Obita's inswinging corner was punched by Mejias behind under serious pressure from a number of blue and white hooped shirts.
Leadbitter took aim from 25 yards but it swerved harmlessly wide of the right post and Federici's covering dive, then the Aussie had to get down low to his right to smother a Tomlin shot on the turn.
With five minutes of the half remaining, the Royals cleared a low corner, but a deflection of Pearce's follow-up block saw the ball spiral over the top and kindly onto the free head of Kike. An alert Federici kept the looping header out with a catch underneath his crossbar.
Then, breaking from a Royals corner, Clayton sweetly volleyed, from a deep cross from the left, just wide from a great far post position. And before the half-time break could arrive, Kike powered a free header wide from an even better spot inside the box. The Royals went in with a slender lead.
Early in the second period, Adomah broke down the right but fired high over the bar from distance. Then Obita did wellt o block another Adomah effort after Kike had teed the winger up on the edge of the box.
Tomlin then found some room to shoot from the left side of the box, but his effort lifted just over the bar and behind for a goal kick. The home side were pressing hard for an equaliser.
Hope Akpan and Craig Tanner were introduced before the hour mark, Cox and Kuhl making way, while new Boro signing Patrick Bamford came off the bench for Tomlin for the visitors.
Reading were still creating openings. A nice break starting with Norwood ended with a low Edwards cross that just evaded Mackie and Taylor arriving late into the box.
Pressure was mounting on the Royals' defence though and Adam Reach's low cross deflected off Gunter's body and smacked against the near post with the wrongfooted Federici helpless to do anything about it.
Williams and Whitehead were thrown on by Aitor Karanka with 15 minutes left, while Jake Cooper came o to bolster the Royals' defensive unit for the last ten minutes.
Nigel Adkins' men were winding down the clock well, while Middlesbrough were growing increasingly frustrated as the seconds ticked away.
But in the 90th minutes, travelling Reading fans had their hearts in their mouths when a tantalising cross from the right was nearly flicked home by Kike, only foer the ball to dribble wide and the offside flag to go up in any case.
Six minutes of injury time were signalled and Boro threw the kitchen sink at the Royals, Bamford bringing a long ball down well but firing over from a tight angle. But the Royals stayed solid at the back and deserved their three points for an impressive away day display.