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Match Reports

Royals hit Albion for four to finish strong

Reading close regular season with another win

7 May 2017

Reading confirmed third place in the Championship - the club's seventh best finish since its inception in 1871 - with a highly entertaining 4-2 victory over Burton Albion this afternoon.

Joseph Mendes broke the deadlock with the game only two minutes old and it was 2-0 after 20 minutes when a stunning 25-yard strike from Jordan Obita rippled the net via the inside of the left post. 

Yann Kermorgant added a third after the hour mark to score his 18th goal of the season...a record for the Frenchman. But two goals in three minutes saw Burton Albion bounce back to set up a lively finale to the season. 

Lewis Grabban made sure of the three points when he hammered home from close range and the win was ours and two goalline clearances and the crossbar denied Reading more as Jaap Stam's men prepared for a play-off campaign in the best possible fashion. 

For the last of our 46 league fixtures, Royals boss Jaap Stam made three changes to his eleven - welcoming back captain Paul McShane who started alongside Tiago Ilori at the back. Joseph Mendes stared the game up front, while Joey van den Berg was fit enough to take a place on the bench. 

In only the second minute, Reading came within a whisker of opening the scoring. Yann Kermorgant was fouled and Liam Kelly swept a cross into the box where Mendes headed goalwards and forced Stephen Bywater into a fingertip save over his bar. 

And from the resultant corner, the visiting team did break the deadlock. The delivery was cleared by a Burton head and a Kelly miskicked volley fell for Beerens to loft back into the Brewers' box. Mendes beat the offside trap, showed compusure to bring it down on his chest and bundled the ball high into the Burton net from close range. 

The hosts got their first glimpse of goal with 12 minutes played, Will Miller getting in behind the back line and cutting a low cross back to the penalty spot where Kightly took aim but swept the ball into the arms of Ali Al Habsi. 

But with 20 minutes played, the travelling fans were going crazy once more - celebrating a magnificent strike from Jordan Obita. Kelly fed the ball back out to Obita after a corner had been cleared and the left-back whipped a brillant curling shot that cannoned off the left stanchion and rippled the Burton net with Bywater a mere bystander. 

Nigel Clough's side were posing an aerial threat in the Reading box and Ben Turner won a header from a corner swing in deep from the right. But he could only direct it wide of the left upright from close range. 

Cauley Woodrow's deflected effort was easy for Al Habsi on the half hour and the Royals fans were enjoying their afternoon in glorious sunshine. And Kelly then played a lovely threaded ball into the stride of Evans whose centre almost found Beerens in the box - but a Burton boot cleared it off the Dutchman's toes. 

Al Habsi raced off his line to prevent Miller from coasting through on goal, holding the Albion man up and saving well from his left-footed stab towards the target. But with the last kick of the half, Mendes came close to scoring a second. He won the ball back himself and then was fed in behind the Burton back line, but his passed shot took a deflection off an Albion ankle and fizzed wide. 

Half-time: Burton Albion 0-2 Reading

Joey van den Berg was brought on for McShane at the break and he started the second period on the left side of the three centre backs, with Ilori moving to the right side. 

But it was the substitute's fellow Dutchman who created the furst opportunities of the second half, crossing to the near post but inches ahead of Obita, then delivering to the back post where the ball was headed behind before Kermorgant could connect. 

Al Habsi produced an incredible save to deny Miller moments later though. Albion found space down the right side of the box and a cut back cross was by first time by the right boot of Miller who seemed certain to score. But the outstretched right arm of Al Habsi palmed the ball onto the crossbar and away! 

And just after the hour, Yann Kermorgant added a third - scoring his 18th goal of the season to confirm it as his best goalscoring season in his career. Roy Beerens broke the offside trap to scamper down the left. He scurried in along the byline and picked out Kermorgant who sidefooted firmly into the bottom right corner for 3-0. 

Burton responded with a goal of their own though when Ben Turner tapped home from close range after the Royals failed to deal with a corner drom the left. 

And Albion were on their feet to celebrate a second moments later to bring the game to life - Cauley Woodrow's downward header at the near post reducing the deficit to one! 

Kermorgant connected with a Liam Kelly corner and directed a very good overhead effort towards goal only to see Albion substitute Luke Varney head it off his goalline. 

And Reading made sure of the victory and third place when they scored a fourth with six minutes left. Obita's inswinging corner was met by a glancing head from Kermorgant which rattled the crossbar. The ball dropped in the Albion box and Kelly took a pot shot which Bywater managed to save. But Grabban was quickest to the second follow up and smashed high into the Burton net from yards out for 4-2. 

Williams thought he'd scored a fifth when Gunter's deep cross was bet by the midfielder at the far post but the effort from a narrow angle was cleared off the line again, although protests from the players suggested it might have crossed it. 

Reading managed a goalline clearance of their own - Liam Moore's diving header saving the day with a spectacular last gasp block after Ali Al Habsi had saved an effort low to his left. It was an end-to-end finish to the campaign that was richly entertaining all those gathered at the Pirelli Stadium. 

In five minutes of injury time, Kelly nearly set up Kermorgant for a strike at goal, but his pass was intercepted by Bywater before it could reach the unmarked Kermorgant. But it didn't matter. 

Fulham await in the play-offs! 

Full-time: Burton Albion 2-4 Reading

Burton Albion: Bywater, Brayford, Mousinho (c), McFadzean, Turner, Woodrow, Miller (Varney 77), Kightly (Dyer 62), Murphy, Irvine, Sordell. 
Subs: Campbell, Flanagan, Akins, Naylor, Sbarra. 
Yellow: Irvine 
Goals: Turner (69), Woodrow (72) 

Reading: Al-Habsi, Gunter, Obita, McShane (c) (Van den Berg HT) Moore, Ilori, Evans, Kelly, Beerens (Williams 74), Mendes (Grabban 65), Kermorgant. 
Subs: Jaakkola, Blackett, Swift, Popa. 
Goals: Mendes (2), Obita (21), Kermorgant (64), Grabban (84) 

Att: 6,264 


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