Npower Championship
Southampton 1-3 Reading



Reading's recent super substitute Adam Le Fondre brings the ball under control with Southampton's Jose Fonte in close proximity



By Alex Byrom
Deputy Football Editor from St Marys Stadium 

Reading all but secured promotion to the Premier League with a 3-1 victory over their nearest rivals Southampton in an enthralling encounter at St Mary's Stadium.

January signing from Blackburn Jason Roberts put Reading ahead with a header before a Rickie Lambert deflected strike levelled for the Saints before two goals from Adam Le Fondre sealed the win for the Royals who opened up a three-point gap for Brian McDermott's men at the top of the Championship. And with three games to go, Reading hold a nine-point advantage over third-placed West Ham, who have four to play.

It would take a monumental slip-up and some very unfortunate results elsewhere for Reading to miss out on promotion now, while Southampton face a nervous battle with the Hammers for the second automatic place.

Southampton named an unchanged line-up from Monday's 2-0 away victory over Crystal Palace with topscorer Rickie Lambert continuing in attack along with Billy Sharp while Reading's team was one different from their 1-0 away victory over Brighton with Tomas Cywka replacing Jay Tabb.

But Nigel Adkins' side can take huge credit for the way they played and if they perform like they did tonight in each of their final three games there will not be a team that can live with them.

Reading's victory was secured courtesy of some fine goalkeeping from Adam Federici and two moments of magic from winger Jimmy Kebe, who created two of the goals.

Southampton headed into the game top on goal difference and the contest pitted the league's best attack against the division's most frugal defence. Saints started brilliantly but found Federici in fine form, the Australian keeping out Lambert and Adam Lallana in the opening minutes.

It was Southampton at their free-flowing best with Lallana pulling the strings in midfield and Billy Sharp's movement proving a constant menace for the visitors.

Lambert had a golden opportunity to put Saints ahead but his close-range header was well kept out by Federici and moments later Reading caught their hosts with a classic sucker-punch.

For the first time in the game, Kebe found space on the right wing to send in a fierce cross and Roberts was there to power home a header from three yards. Saints came firing back, Lallana again going close with a delightful chip, but for all their endeavour they could not beat Federici.

Roberts was proving a useful outlet for Reading but their moments in the Saints half were few and far between and just before the break Lambert should have put the hosts level but headed over from six yards.

It took just three minutes for Saints to level after the break and unsurprisingly it was Lambert who scored. The Championship's player of the year combined brilliantly with Sharp before firing a deflected half-volley past Federici. The goal spurred Saints on and soon after Richard Chaplow warmed the palms of Federici with a fierce drive from the right.

Lambert and Sharp combined again before the latter sent a low drive past Federici's right-hand post while Lallana also headed wide from close range.

But as in the first half, Reading made Southampton pay for their wastefulness in front of goal and Le Fondre found space in the Saints box to fire home after good work from Kebe on the right.

Reading were superb in defence as Saints pursued a second equaliser, Steve de Ridder firing straight at Federici late on. And in the closing moments, Le Fondre sealed the victory after rounding Kelvin Davis before firing into the empty net to send the away fans into delirium.


Alex Byrom
The Football Site-  Deputy Football Editor

"It was a deserved victory for Reading in what was an incredible tense affair in the massive Premier League promotion clash. Southampton started brightly in the first fifteen minutes but didn't create many chances in that spell. It was the second half when the Royals started to make their mark on the game despite leading at half-time. Nigel Adkins will be disappointed as they could have thrown the race open with a win and could have put themselves in a great position. Adam Le Fondre made the difference when coming on getting another two goals and he has really fitted into this level of football in the Championship making the step-up from Rotherham look easy. Reading have been on a quite incredible run of form- nobody could have seen this happening at Christmas and now they are just one win away from the Premier League win mathematically. It was a really good game to watch."


Friday 13th April 2012

Npower Championship

St Mary's Stadium


Southampton 1-3 Reading                                       KO 7:45pm              (HT 0-1)

Lambert 48         Roberts 19
                        Le Fondre 72, 90


Southampton:  1 Davis- 6.5/10, 12 Butterfield- 6/10, 6 Jose Fonte- 6.5/10, 26 Hooiveld- 6.5/10, 13 Fox- 6/10, 18 Chaplow- 7/10 (De Ridder 53- 4/10), 8 Cork- 6.5/10, 14 Hammond (C)- 6/10 (Guly 76- 2.5/10), 20 Lallana- 7.5/10, 7 Lambert- 7.5/10, 11 Sharp- 6.5/10.

Subs not used:  2 Richardson, 3 Harding, 16 Martin

Booked:      Chaplow (37), Guly (88)


Reading:  1 Federici- 7.5/10, 24 Cummings- 7/10, 5 Pearce- 8/10, 17 Gorkss- 8.5/10, 23 Harte- 8/10, 14 Kebe- 7.5/10, 7 Tabb- 6.5/10 (Le Fondre 64- 4.5/10), 26 Mullins- 7.5/10, 11 McAnuff (C)- 7.5/10, 10 N Hunt- 8/10, 33 Roberts- 7.5/10 (Afobe 77- 2.5/10).

Subs not used:  12 McCarthy, 6 Gunnarsson, 18 Church

Booked:      None


My Man of the Match:    Kaspers Gorkss (Reading)- Rating 8.5/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:    Danny Butterfield (Southampton)- Rating 6/10



Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)- 9/10
Attendance: 31,892 



Match Facts

Possession: Southampton- 59%                  Reading- 41%

Shots: Southampton- 19                         Reading- 6

Shots on target: Southampton- 12                      Reading- 4

Shots off target: Southampton- 7                      Reading- 2

Corners: Southampton- 7                        Reading- 2

Fouls: Southampton- 11                       Reading- 4

Offside: Southampton- 1                         Reading- 6

Assists: Southampton- Sharp                    Reading- Kebe (2)



Southampton manager Nigel Adkins

"It is in our own hands still in terms of getting second place and if not first place. We are not looking any lower than that. Control the controllable - we keep saying it and it is very much what we do. All we can do is concentrate on what we do, hence not going to watch West Ham or anything like that because we can't control that or their results. They will be looking to win their four games now so we have to be at our best- we know that we can still finish top if results go our way and we are not giving up on it that's for sure. From our point of view we gave three poor goals away defensively and at this level, at this stage of the season in such an important game at the top of the table- you cannot afford to do this. Well done to Reading, who came here and got three points, but we gifted them three goals. We've kept our home form really good this season and not many teams have taken us down at St Mary's so it required a good performance from them to beat us which is what they put in. I thought that they were the better side for much of the game although we had some good moments going forward which on another night could have gone our way. There are three games to go and we have to remain positive. There will still be more twists and turns as there always is. We will analyse this game, draw a line underneath it and move on- look ahead to the next one and look to respond by picking up three points. We don't dwell on setbacks- I know the lads are disappointed and they will make up for it."



Reading manager Brian McDermott 

"It was a fantastic performance and a really important result- I could not be more happy with the players and for the lads. We made a substitution in the second half that was positive in winning the game. Adam [Le Fondre] is born to score goals- thats why we brought him to the club because we felt he could make a positive impact in the goals department and he has certainly done that in recent weeks when we have needed them. He got two chances and scored two goals. It's an amazing achievement for us to turn the season around and be so close to promotion to the best league in the world. The players have done that by putting in lots of hard work and commitment. Apart from the first six games of the season where we took our time to get going and were a little sluggish, we would be winning this league by a long way. We had a tough summer as everybody knows after the huge disappointment in not getting promoted and I keep banging on about it, but that is what happened. We lost the play-off final, we lost players that were top quality and important to us last season, we had to replace them and we had to find another way and we've done that. We are one or two games away now and if we can keep performing the way we have done since November- then we will complete the job and until we have- our minds will be focused on the games ahead and trying to pick up results."


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