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Report | Excellent Royals seal key victory against Forest

John Swift's first half finish and a late own goal from Jack Robsinson earned José Gomes his first win as Reading manager at the end of a fine performance in front of the home fans...

12 January 2019

Reading produced a fabulous home performance to rightly earn three points against a high-Forest side who ended the match with nine men and left the Madejski with nothing.

Ovie Ejaria was named in the eleven to make his Royals debut, while another new arrival - Lewis Baker - began on the bench. Jon Dadi Bóðvarsson returned from injury to start up front, while Leandro Bacuna returned from suspension to reclaim a midfield spot.

Reading began well. Bodvarsson dispossessed his man on the right flank and burst away to produce a deep cross from the byline that was met by the head of Ovie Ejaria. Unfortunately, the loanee couldn’t keep his effort down and it sailed over the crossbar.

Joe Lolley and Cash combined at the other end - the first getting past Moore and into the box and only for the latter to eb denied by Yiadom’s last ditch tackle.

18 minutes in and a nice passing move on the edge of the Forest box saw Ejaria feed the ball into the feet of Swift. He tried to dig out a cross to the far post where Yiadom was free but a Forest head managed to nod it clear before the full back could connect.

And the Royals deserved their lead when the deadlock was broken four minutes later. The move began with a precise pass from Bacuna into Swift in midfield. He found Barrow who darted down the right side of Forest’s box before crossing low into the middle for Swift to brilliantly turn home first time.

A driving run through the middle from Andy Rinomhota just after the half hour almost resulted in a threaded ball into the run of Barrow - but it was slightly overhit and even Barrow’s pace wasn’t enough to prevent it from rolling behind for a goal kick.

Pantilimon had to show good handling to gather in a strike from Ejaria next; Swift winning the ball and nudging it on to the new loanee who controlled it and shot but the Forest keeper saved comfortably.

With five minutes of the half remaining, a well-timed Richards tackle inside the Royals’ box led to a counter attack. Ejaria brought the ball forward and fed Bodvarsson who got in behind the Forest back line down the left. He had to wait for support and eventually his low cross towards Barrow was cut out and deflected behind for a corner.

As half-time approached, it took a full-stretch save from the towering Pantilimon to deny Barrow from 25 yards out - the keeper palming a fizzing drive around his post.

And Barrow had space to run into in three minutes of injury time too, found on the right by Swift he dragged his shot wide of the right post without troubling the keeper.

Half-time | Reading 1-0 Nottingham Forest

The first chance of the second half fell to Forest and a timely toe from Richards forced Murphy to sky his overhead kick over the crossbar from 10 yards out.

Bacuna squandered an opportunity to add to the hosts’ lead when presented with the chance to shoot from the edge of the box, lashing high over the bar.

Swift won and took a free kick 20 yards out but Pantilimon stepped across his goal and pushed his well-struck effort over the bar.

On the hour, a late challenge from Murphy on Swift led to both teams coming together with a lot of pushing. Liam Moore and Andy Yiadom were cautioned as were the original offender Murphy and Jack Robinson - before Fox also received a yellow, his second of the match, resulting in an early back for the skipper.

Bacuna tested Pantilimon with a free kick that the keeper did well to get down low to and smother at the base of his right post.

But Ben Osborn had the ball in the net soon after and thought he had scored, only to see his celebrations cut short by the referee's whistle which had sounded for a foul in the build up to the crossed ball dropping to the midfielder's feet.

A break from the back began when Ilori pinged the ball out to Barrow in space on the right. He found Swift to his left bursting forward but the midfielder tried to glance it on to Bodvarsson and instead got too much on it to watch it bobble harmlessly wide.

With less than 20 minutes to go, the Royals kept searching for a second goal that seemed necessary to secure the victory. Bodvarsson was strong to compete for an aerial ball with the Forest keeper and then hold off a man to tee up substitute Baker - but the loanee seemed to slip as he hit it and spooned his effort over the bar.

Yiadom drilled a cleared corner wide of the right stanchion, but Forest kept pressing at the other end and some fine defensive work from Rinomhota, redeployed at right-back, helped deny the visitors a chance to cross.

McCleary darted forward through the middle next and arrowed a low effort inches wide of the bottom left corner. Then Barrow found himself in space inside the box, but delayed a shot too long to allow a Forest foot to toe it back to Pantilimon.

With just a goal the difference between the teams, Forest kept pressing and Grabban found himself in a goalscoring position, only for the offside flag and Jaakkola's save to thwart the former Royal.

The ten men of Forest were reduced to nine with seven minutes remaining when Darikwa launched into a very rash challenge on substitute Danny Loader.

And the second and decisive goal finally rippled Forest's net when Yiadom got in behind down the left, squared a ball into the middle where Jack Robinson turned it into his own net for an own goal.

Reading had chances to make it 3-0 although Grabban nearly grabbed a consolation, rounding Jaakkola but crowded out in the end before being able to get a shot away.

Full-time | Reading 2-0 Nottingham Forest

Reading: Jaakkola, Yiadom, Moore (c), Ilori, Richards (Baker 66), Bacuna, Rinomhota, Barrow, Swift, Ejaria (McCleary 74), Bóðvarsson (Loader 82).
Subs: Walker, Gunter, Aluko, Blackett.
Goals: Swift (23), Robinson og (85)
Yellow: Richards, Yiadom, Moore

Nottingham Forest: 
Pantilimon, Robinson, Darikwa, Fox, Cash, Yacob, Guédioura (Yates 84), Colback, Osborn, Lolley (Goncalves 68), Murphy (Grabban 64).
Subs: Steele, Carvalho, Janko, Appiah.
Yellow: Fox, Colback, Murphy, Robinson.
Red: Fox, Darikwa

Referee: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 15,034 (2,093 away)

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