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🥊 Match report | Boxing Day victory against the Hatters

McIntyre and Semedo strike to earn three festive points

26 December 2020

First half goals from Tom McIntyre and Alfa Semedo saw the Royals earn a 2-1 victory on Boxing Day - despite a late Luton rally at the Madejski.

Reading started the game firmly on the front foot. Aluko played an early ball into Ejaria's path but he was caught by his man when it looked like he might be in behind the Luton defence and bearing down on goal.

Moments later, Esteves was found on the right side and his low cross fell to the feet of Baldock. He looked to shoot on the pivot but it cannoned into a Luton leg and away to safety.

And with only nine minutes on the clock, the hosts had the lead. Laurent won a corner on the left, Aluko swept the ball in and Tom McIntyre met it with a fine left-footed volley that flew past James Shea for 1-0.

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The visitors began to get a foothold in the game, enjoying good spells of possession without threatening the Royals goal. Reading looked for a second, but Esteves' throughball looking for Baldock's run was just to close to the covering defender for him to latch onto.

With ten minutes of the first half remaining, a short corner on the right was drilled high and wide by Aluko. Then moments later Ejaria found himself with the ball at his feet inside the box - he looked to tee up Baldock but as the striker wound up to shoot the ball was nicked off his toes.

And before the break it was deservedly 2-0. Rinomhota won the ball and Semedo drove forward with it. He fed the feet of Baldock, who came inside from the corner of the box and stabbed a ball through the Luton back line and into the continued run of Semedo. He made no mistake, calmly passing the ball wide of Shea and into the back of the net from 12 yards out.

A committed Tom McIntyre tackle on the very edge of the penalty area was given as a free kick, but thankfully the set piece had too much on it to trouble the hosts' defence.

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At the start of four minutes of injury time, Mpanzu darted down the left and fizzed a low ball across the Reading box but thankfully no-one was able to get a touch in the middle to turn it home. The visitors finished strongly in fact, but the barks of Morrison held Reading's defence firm - Baldock heading a ball out of his own box to earn the Royals a two-goal cushion at the break.
 
Half-time: Reading 2-0 Luton Town

Nathan Jones made a triple change at the break and a swarm of Reading bodies raced to the ball to block Berry's right-footed drive at goal, McIntyre successfully charging it down.

Aluko nearly chased down a back pass as the Royals sought a third and decisive goal, then Morrison had an appeal for a penalty turned down as he took a tumble when trying to get on the end of a half-cleared free kick.

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John Swift was introduced soon after, returning after a long injury lay-off, but Reading were having to defend their lead - Holmes diving to head the ball behind for a corner when a cross from the left threatened Rafael's goal. From the resultant corner, Rafael had to hold onto a powerful Berry header that was straight at the Brazilian keeper.

Baldock was denied a free kick when he seemed to win an aerial ball on half way, but Luton broke down the left and Hylton headed the cross wide of the left post to Reading's relief.

Rafael did well to repel a near post scuffle from a Hatters free kick that was toed goalwards - the Royals keeper smothering the loose ball afterwards too as Lockyer looked to pounce.

With five minutes remaiing, an early cross from the left deflected off the head of Esteves and looped wide of the right post - then Rafael saved from Hylton before the referee's whistle sounded for a foul on Morrison in the build up to his chance.

In injury time, the Hatters gave themselves a glimmer of hope when substitute LuaLua took aim from 25 yards out and the ball swerved past the dive of Rafael and into the back of the net.

But the Royals saw out the remaining three minutes with relative ease to take all three points.

Full-time: Reading 2-1 Luton Town

Reading: Rafael, Holmes, Esteves, McIntyre, Morrison (c), Rinomhota, Laurent, Semedo (Swift 66), Aluko (Watson 90), Ejaria, Baldock.
Unused subs: Southwood, Bristow, Watson, Dorsett, East, Onen, Melvin-Lambert, Olise.
Yellow: McIntyre
Goals: McIntyre (9), Semedo (41)

Luton Town: Shea, Cranie (Dewsbury-Hall HT), Potts (Cornick 77), Bradley (c), Berry, Moncur (Norrington-Davies HT), Lockyer, Rea (Hylton HT), Mpanzu (LuaLua 65), Clark, Collins.
Unused subs: Sluga, Tunnicliffe, Pearson, Nombe.
Yellow: Cranie, LuaLua
Goals: LuaLua (90)

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