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Match Reports

Royals secure top six finish!

Play-off place guaranteed; Latics relegated

29 April 2017

Reading's season will be extended by at least two extra games as a slender victory over Wigan Athletic this afternoon ensured a top six finish for the Royals in Jaap Stam's first season at the club.

The Royals were far from their best in securing their 16th home win of the campaign, but a 7th minute header from top scorer Yann Kermorgant was enough to eke out three points that took Reading into third palce in the table with just a trip to Burton left in the 46-game schedule. 

Royals boss Jaap Stam made three changes to the side that started at the City Ground the previous weekend, bringing in Garath McCleary, George Evans and Roy Beerens with Danny Williams, Lewis Grabban and Adrian Popa dropping to the bench. 

The first chance fell Reading's way - Jordan Obita swung the ball into the box from the left and McCleary gathered it into his feet at the far post. He powered a cross back into the area and Matt Gilks had to push it away from danger as the Royals pressed for an early opener. 

And with just five minutes of the game gone, Reading broke the deadlock. McCleary dinked a lovely cross into the area and Kermorgant rose above his marker to head home, high past Gilks and into the roof of the Latics net. 

Michael Jacobs nearly levelled soon after as Reading refused to clear their lines, lost the ball and allowed the Wigan midfielder to take aim - but his strike was easy for Al Habsi to gather low in the middle of his goal. 

The game was stopped for a lengthy period with ten minutes gone after Shaun MacDonald came off worse in a 50:50 with George Evans - the Wigan man needed treatment on the pitch and was stretchered off, while Evans was booked. 

Jacobs arrowed over from a narrow angle as Wigan looked to find a route back into a game they needed to win to preserve any hope of survival. But the Royals came close to a second when a lovely one-two between Beerens and Swift saw the latter cross toward Kermorgant, whose hooked effort was charged down before it could trouble Gilks. 

Wigan carved out an opportunity fo their own with half an hour on the clock, a good run down the left and a nice pull back setting up Powell who arrowed a first time effort over from the edge of the Royals box. 

It took a timely interventions from Moore to dispossess Jacobs after he ran onto a deft flick in behind the Royals back line. And the home defence had to see off the threat from a string of dangerous corners. 

And on the break Wigan looked a threat too - Tunnicliffe bursting into space down the left and playing an incredible ball into the middle with the outside of his boot that Nick Powell headed goalwards but Ali Al Habsi saved low to his left. 

At the other end, Reading were getting some joy down the right flank, Gunter and McCleary beating Warnock to the ball but unable to find a Reading head with their pull backs. But this game was far from over as the visitors continued to impress in the final third - Powell rifling just over as he collected a one two to drive into the box and take aim. 

Nine minutes of injury time were signalled, but two injuries during that period added even more time to the first half - one seeing Garath McCleary come off the pitch with a problem, replaced by Lewis Grabban. And there was time for Powell to come close to an equaliser, sliding into the six yard box but unable to connect with a fabulous low cross into the area from the right flank. 

Half-time: Reading 1-0 Wigan Athletic

Wigan came close to drawing level when Connolly headed into the side netting from a narrow angle at the back post early after the restart. 

And Graham Barrow's men kept coming. Powell robbed Grabban of the ball and drilled a well-struck effort inches wide of the bottom left corner. 

Max Power drive a speculative effort just wide with 25 minutes of the game remaining, while the Royals were strugglign to find their fluent best in the final third. 

A last ditch flick of the leg from Gunter thwarted another Athletic attack that had seen the ball delivered into the Reading area from the right. 

However huge appeals for a penalty were waved away by referee Tim Robinson, despite Kermorgant being hauled to the ground by Stephen Warnock as he looked to get on the end of a cross from the left. 

Al Habsi dropped on a 20-yard shot from Jacobs as the Latics kept pressing. Obita had to mop up after a good cross from Omar Bogle from the byline. And then Moore sliced a low drive from Bogle behind to concede a corner as the final ten minutes began. 

Ilori swept a ball out to Beerens soon after and the winger's cross-shot whistled across the face of goal and inches in front of Grabban's head. 

And with four minutes left on the clock, the striker had another chance to secure victory. A deep ball from Obita floated over the leap of Kermorgant and his marker and dropped to Grabban who tried a first time volley but watched as his effort flew over the bar. 

Wigan were relegated, but on this showing could be back playing second tier football soon. And their efforts continued right up until the final whistle. But the sun shone down on Madejski Stadium as Royals fans celebrated yet another home win. 

Full-time: Reading 1-0 Wigan Athletic

Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter (c), Obita, Moore, Blackett, Evans (Ilori 73), Swift (Williams 60), Kelly, Beerens, McCleary (Grabban 45), Kermorgant. 
Subs: Jaakkola, Mendes, Popa, Oxford. 
Yellow: Evans, Moore, Gunter, Williams, Kelly. 
Goals: Kermorgant (7) 

Wigan Athletic: Gilks, Warnock (c), Burn, MacDonald (Power 20), Morgan, Perkins, Tunnicliffe, Jacobs, Hanson, Burke (Connolly 45), Powell (Bogle 79). 
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Bruce, Colclough, Byrne. 
Yellow: Connolly. 

Att: 19,177 (402 away) 


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