Five star Fulham end Royals' runThe Royals' winning run came to an emphatic end as Fulham ran out comfortable victors over ten man Reading at Craven Cottage this afternoon. An own goal from Chris Gunter handed the hosts a half time lead they deserved and a Chris Martin thunderbolt handed the home side the cushion of a second early in the second half.
Danny Williams saw red for a challenge with Johansen on the byline and then a contentious third put the game to bed, Sone Aluko passing the ball in despite Chris Martin's interference from an offside position. Johansen added a fourth with a fine finish and Martin scored his second with a free kick in the 90th minute. A fine Fulham performance. A day for the Royals to forget.
Manager Jaap Stam was forced into one change in his starting line-up, compensating for Liam Moore's absence through suspension by naming a fit again Joey van den Berg in the eleven. That was the only change to the squad, while former Royals loanee Lucas Piazon was named on Fulham's bench.
The first half chance fell to the hosts when Stefan Johansen swept a ball into the Royals box and Kevin McDonald arrived onto it late to head it down towards goal - but Al Habsi gathered it in with relative ease on his goalline.
Moments later, Williams threaded a ball into MCCleary's feet but his first touch took him wide and his low cross into the middle couldn't find a supporting striker. But a crossfield ball from Obita looking for Gunter was cut out by Floyd Ayite and his pace took him past McShane and into a position to shoot - he struck it well from the edge of the box but Al Habsi parried well and clung onto the dropping ball at the second attempt.
Al Habsi was at full stretch once more to push a Scott Malone effort to safety after the full back had been allowed to scurry in from the left flank unchallenged.
Fulham had started far the brighter, pressuring the visitors on the ball, winning it back quickly and threatening when they came forward - Aluko's cross was met by Ayite
And the home side had the lead with a quarter of an hour played. Ryan Fredericks crossed from the right and an unsighted Chris Gunter, staring into the dipping sun, diverted the ball past his own keeper with a miscued header from yards out.
Fulham continued to press and impress. Al Habsi had to be alert to prevent a glancing header on a corner squirming in at his near post. And on the half hour, Aluko glided past Obita into the box to arrow a fierce effort over the crossbar.
On the break, Evans found McCleary down the right side and the winger cut inside to feed Beerens on the edge of the Fulham box. But he couldn't find a gap to take aim through and was eventually dispossessed before he could pull the trigger.
McCleary had a go himself just before the break, but his speculative drive from 25 yards out whistled harmlessly wide of the top left corner. And four minutes of injury time played out before the Royals could regroup in the dressing room.
Half-time: Fulham 1-0 Reading
In the opening moments of the second half, a cross from Gunter almost found Van den Berg at the far post, but the Dutchman was penalised for a push in trying to get his head on the end of the ball.
And within a matter of seconds, Fulham were celebrating a second. Chris Martin received the ball to feet, turned and scampered forward before unleashing a powerful right-footed effort that flew past the dive of Al Habsi and nestled inside the left upright.
Martin should have made it 3-0 soon after when he directed an inswinging free kick over the crossbar from close range. And then he was presented with another chance soon after, arrowing over this time with his right foot after Ayite's pull back.
Reading's afternoon got much worse five minutes later. Danny Williams tussled on the byline with Johansen and the Fulham midfielder went to ground appealing for a kick. Referee Oliver Langford took his time to make a decision and eventually produced a straight red for the Royals midfielder.
Two goals and a man down, the game was lost. But Royals boss Jaap Stam brought on Liam Kelly for Roy Beerens with half an hour to play. And Samuel and Kelly broke two on one soon after, but Samuel was tackled before he could pick out his fellow Academy graduate or take a shot himself.
Reading were creating a few opportunities despite their numerical disadvantage - Evans headed our best chance of the game into the palms of David Button as he connected cleanly with a McCleary corner. And Obita arrived late to a cross from the right but saw his placed volley ricochet behind for a corner.
Al Habsi had to save well from Cairney's fearsome effort from range, and then a sublime piece of individual skill saw Aluko beat two men down the right to come inside, scuttle direct at goal and pass the ball inside the far post for 3-0. The linesman flagged for offside as it seemed to go in off the studs of an offside Martin yards out, but the referee pointed to the centre circle after a long discussion and to the Royals' disbelief. ;
The home side were running away with it and Johansen arced a fourth past Al Habsi with the outside of his boot to make it 4-0 with a fine finish. Then Martin headed goalwards and Al Habsi had to tip the ball over his crossbar to prevent a fifth.
Al Habsi gathered in a Cairney effort from 20 yards out as in in form Fulham looked for more in the dying stages. And Martin did find another in the last minute of the niety - arrowing home a free kick from just outside the area.
It was a game to forget for the Royals who were very much second best in West London. But Stam's men remained in third place in the league table - so they regroup and go again at home to Sheffield Wednesday next weekend.
Full-time: Fulham 5-0 Reading
Fulham: Button, Fredericks, Malone, Kalas, Ream, Johansen (Parker 84), McDonald, Aluko (Piazon 76), Ayite (Kebano 87), Cairney, Martin.
Subs: Bettinelli, Madl, Sessegnon, Smith.
Goals: Gunter og 15, Martin 49, 90, Aluko 67, Johansen 70.
Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter, Obita, Blackett, McShane (c), Van den Berg, Evans, Williams, Beerens (Kelly 57), McCleary (Harriott 77), Samuel (Meite 66).
Subs: S Moore, Watson, Cooper, Mendes.
Yellow: McShane, Obita, Van den Berg, Evans.