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Match Reports

Spirited Royals comeback to no avail

Forest hold on to lead to foil Reading

22 April 2017

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A spirited Royals comeback was not enough to turn around a three goal deficit at the City Ground as Forest added Reading to a list of scalps at home that include Newcastle, Brighton and Huddersfield amongst others this season.

Forest deserved their half-time lead secured through Britt Assombalonga's toe poke after half an hour. And another from Assombalonga followed by a Carayol strike seemed to have secured the hosts victory. But Yann Kermorgant headed one back and then hooked another home with a quarter of an hour to play and the final throes were nervy ones for Mark Warburton's men at the City Ground. They clung on though and secured victory on a frantic day in Nottingham. 

Royals boss Jaap Stam made three changes to the starting eleven for the visit to Nottingham Forest - bringing in Liam Kelly, Lewis Grabban and Adrian Popa to his eleven. Joseph Mendes returned to the sqaud to take a place on the bench alongside Roy Beerens. 

Reading bosses possession from the start but the hosts began brightly in the final third. Moore produced a good block to charge down Joe Worrall's attempt as he connected with a low corner aimed into him. Then Gunter did well to glance an inswinging Ben Osborn cross behind for a corner. 

The first action required from either goalkeeper was Al Al Habsi watching a speculative Carayol shot from distance into his clutches. And the wide midfielder forced a very similar stop from the Royals keeper when he cut in from the left flank and arrowed an effort at Reading's goal from range soon after. 

Carayol was causing real concern with his pace down the left and he darted into space and dinked a cross to Ben Brereton in the middle with a quarter of an hour played, but the Forest man couldn't direct a free header on target and the ball bounced up kindly for Al Habsi to snaffle. 

Swift scurried into enougb space to take a shot but instead tried a reverse pass for Grabban which wasn't read. And at the other end Mark Warburton's men continued to threaten, Brereton hooking a hopeful effort over from a narrow angle as he raced onto a direct ball from the back and went shoulder to shoulder with Tyler Blackett. 

Midway through the half, Jordan Obita swung in a superb cross from the left which Kermorgant headed wide via a deflection from Michael Mancienne. However, Moore and Blackett had to combine to see of Assombalonga who raced onto a well-weighted ball from Cohen, then Al Habsi did well to parry a swerving shot from Vaughan. 

And the goal which had been coming arrived on the half hour mark. The ball was given away in midfield and before the Royals could reorganise it had been threaded into the path of an onside Assombalonga who toed it wide of the onrishing Al Habsi and into the bottmo right corner for 1-0. 

Reading nearly responded immediately with a slick passing exchange ending with a right-footed bullet from Lewis Grabban that needed tipping over the bar by Jordan Smith. From the resultant corner, Liam Moore rose highest but glanced harmlessly wide of the left post. 

Forest came close again though through the lively Carayol. He cut the ball onto his right foot this time and fizzed a low shot into the near post where Al Habsi did well to push it wide. 

The Royals pressed for an equaliser and Kermorgant directed Obita's corner just wide with a placed volley just before half-time. But Ben Osborn could have made it 2-0 before the interval when he raced onto a ball in behind the back line and touched the ball past the sliding challenge of Al Habsi, only to be denied a tap in by the back-tracking Moore who cleared it out fnor a throw. 

Half-time: Nottm Forest 1-0 Reading

Hopes the visitors had of starting the second half on the front foot disappeared when Forest added a second within minutes of the restart. Osborn got a yard to deliver a cross from the right and Assombalonga beat Moore to the ball and headed home from six yards out to make it 2-0.  

And Forest must have thought they had the points in the bag when Carayol jinked into the box from the left and rifled a low right-footed shot past a helpless Al Habsi to make it 3-0. 

Blackett strode forward to take the ball out of defence and delivered it to Beerens in space on the right, but his fizzed cross couldn't find a Reading shirt as it flashed across the face of the Forest goal. 

The Royals did pull a goal back though on the hour. Obita's corner from the right had been scrappily scrambled away from danger in the six yard box by two Forest defenders but onle cleared back out to Obita. He swept the ball back into the box and Kermorgant met it with his head, directing it home off the underside of the crossbar for 3-1. 

Al Habsi had to leap to his right to save an Osborn free kick that was whistling towards the left corner of the goal. But Reading had a sustained spell of pressure as they looked for a goal which might haver made the closing stages nervy for the hosts. 

And it came! Beerens' floated ball into the middle was not cleared as Kermorgant's muscle did enough to force the ball to drop inside the area. The Frenchman delayed his hooked left-footed strike perfectly, allowing the ball to drop so he could keep it down before arrowing into the back of the Forest net. 

With ten minutes remaining, Kermorgant laid the ball off for Swift to take aim and he whistled a shot inches wide of the bottom left corner from 20 yards out. And a big appeal for a penalty from skipper Chris Gunter was ignored - the Royals captain was booked for his protests after he had claimed a trip inside the Forest box. 

Stam threw Joseph Mendes on and Grabban had a chance to feed him or Kermorgant on a swift counter attack, but took aim himself and a deflection of a defender was enough to take the sting out of the shot for Smith. 

A frantic finish saw Assombalonga denied a hat-trick by the offside flag, heading home from close range only to have his celebrations cut short by the referee's assistant on the far side. 

And four minutes of injury time were signalled as Liam Moore headed up front for the final throes. There was no way through though and a spirited comeback would end in defeat. 

Full-time: Nottm Forest 3-2 Reading

Nottm Forest: Smith, Lichaj, Mancienne, Brereton (Ward 73), Worrall, Fox (Pinillos 76), Osborn, Cohen (c), Vaughan, Carayol (Cash 80), Assombalonga. 
Subs: Evtimov, Tshibola, Clough, Vellios. 
Yellow: Vaughan, Ward 
Goals: Assombalonga (31, 47), Carayol (54) 

Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter (c), Obita, Blackett, Moore, Kelly, Williams (Evans 52), Swift (Mendes 82), Popa (Beerens 52), Grabban, Kermorgant. 
Subs: Jaakkola, Oxford, Ilori, Meite. 
Yellow: Blackett, Gunter 
Goals: Kermorgant (58, 74) 

Att: 20,323 (1,014 away) 

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