LIVE: Southampton v Reading
Published: 13 Apr 2012 18:300 comments
FULL-TIME - READING WIN! They go three points clear at the top of the Championship with three games to play, what a night for Brian McDermott's men. They were under the cosh for a lot of the match but goals from Jason Roberts and two from Adam Le Fondre saw them home, another superb performance from Royals!
92 mins - GOOOOOOOOLLLLLLL! LE FONDRE! READING ARE GOING THREE POINTS CLEAR AT THE TOP! The striker did brilliantly to pressure a defender, nick the ball and then take a touch around Davis before firing into the empty net!
90 mins - Four minutes added on.
88 mins - Nearly into injury time now, still Royals hold on.
84 mins - Great run by De Ridder to beat a couple of defenders and get into the box but his shot hits Federici in the chest and Royals clear. Still very much one-way traffic.
80 mins - Reading are defending so deep now, seemingly happy to sit back for the final 10 minutes and try and hit Saints on the counter attack.
78 mins - McAnuff has his hands on his heads as his goal-bound shot is deflected behind for a corner, which comes to nothing.
77 mins - A fine night's work from Roberts ends as he is replaced by Benik Afobe.
76 mins - Tame from Butterfield, who curls a shot into Federici's arms. Second change for Saints, Dean Hammond off and Guly Do Prado comes on.
75 mins - Back come Saints with a corner, but Reading clear for now.
73 mins - GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLL! LE FONDRE! Wonderfully worked goal from Reading! Lovely interplay on the edge of the box results in Kebe being played in inside the area, he cuts back into a crowded area, a player dummies over it and Le Fondre smashes his shot into the roof of the net!
72 mins - McAnuff, who is now playing centre midfield, fires a shot from distance well over the bar.
70 mins - Butterfield has put some superb balls into the box tonight, and again he delivers a cracking cross that Lallana does well to meet ahead of a defender but heads well over.
68 mins - Not sure how that is not at least a free-kick. Roberts breaks from the corner and runs to the edge of the box before he is charged from behind by De Ridder, but Mike Dean waves play on.
67 mins - Good sliding block from Harte to keep out De Ridder's shot but Saints have a corner.
65 mins - So Hunt has now moved out to the left, with Le Fondre and Roberts up front. Three Reading players have just air kicked in the space of a minute, very careless from the visitors.
63 mins - Le Fondre set to come on for Reading, and he replaces Tabb. An attacking move from McDermott.
62 mins - Neat interplay between Lambert and Sharp. Lambert dummies the ball into his feet, Sharp lays it off with his first touch and his strike partner drills a shot wide of goal.
60 mins - Reading have managed to slow down the Southampton attacks for now, but they are losing the ball too easily when they get it.
56 mins - Great play from Roberts again to win the ball on the left but his cross is headed clear by the Saints defence. Reading attack again and time time Kebe tees up McAnuff on the edge of the box, only for the captain to slice his effort horribly.
53 mins - Everyone apart from Hunt and Roberts is back defending for Reading, who desperately need a decent spell of possession.
50 mins - First change of the evening, Chaplow comes off for Steve de Ridder, who scored the equaliser at the Madejski earlier in the season.
49 mins - Saints really have the wind in their sails now as Sharp this time feeds in Chaplow and he drills in a shot that Federici palms behind. From the resulting corner Hooiveld rises well but heads a good opportunity wide.
47 mins - GOOOOOOOOLLLLL! LAMBERT EQUALISES! A cross came in from the left and Sharp chested the ball down to Lambert on the penalty spot. He struck a shot that took a wicked deflection off a defender and went over a diving Federici. All square.
46 mins - Royals start the second half...
HALF-TIME - And somehow Reading lead. They have been under the cosh, their box has been peppered with crosses, Lallana has been superb, but Roberts' headed goal is the difference at the break. As it stands Reading are going three points clear at the top of the Championship with three games to play, but they still have a lot of work to do in the next 45 minutes if they are to secure victory.
45 mins - Two minutes of injury-time added on as Lambert rises above the Reading defence to meet Fox's cross but heads well over.
43 mins - Chaplow crosses a low ball into the box that Sharp meets on the volley, but his shot is tame and into the arms of Federici.
41 mins - Superb play from Roberts. The striker does brilliantly to win a ball on the left against Fonte, holds off his man and then beats him and earns a free-kick. Unfortunately for the visitors Pearce cannot direct his header from Harte's delivery goalwards.
40 mins - The Reading box is again peppered with crosses, but again the visitors survive, and win a free-kick when Chaplow handballs.
38 mins - Boos from the home fans as Tabb escapes a booking for a high tackle in midfield. Royals will be hoping they can keep their lead intact until half time.
36 mins - Ouch! Federici comes sliding out and takes a knee in the face from Chaplow, the Saints man is booked for the challenge.
35 mins - Great claim by Federici from a free-kick lofted into the box, the Aussie might have to do that a few more times this evening.
32 mins - First chance for Reading since the goal, a cross from Hunt on the cross is just too high for Kebe at the back post.
30 mins - Another ball into the box sees Sharp go down theatrically while competing with Gorkss. There didn't seem to be much contact at all and referee Mike Dean waved away the appeals from the home team.
28 mins - That's the first mistake Lallana has made so far, firing a shot from 25 yards harmlessly high and wide of goal.
26 mins - If Saints are going to score it would be no surprise if it came from a header, they are crossing into the box at every opportunity. Chaplow put the latest effort into the area, but Lallana could not direct his header goalwards.
24 mins - Outstanding from Lallana, almost Catona-esque! He turns brilliantly on the edge of the box to make space and then tries to chip Federici at the far post, but the Aussie manages to palm it over. From the resulting corner Daniel Fox is wide open but heads over the bar.
22 mins - Saints still look dangerous, but Royals are doing enough to keep them out at the moment.
18 mins - GOOOOOOOOOOOOLLL! IT'S JASON ROBERTS!!! It's totally against the run of play but Reading are ahead! McAnuff picked up the ball in midfield, found Kebe on the right and his cross over the six-yard box was met with a powerful header by Roberts. Excellent finish from the striker to get above his marker and head home, and he slides on his knees to celebrate while the Reading fans go ballistic!
17 mins - Federici called into action again, this time the Aussie has to palm away Lambert's header from a deep cross into the box by Butterfield.
16 mins - Reading really need to get on the ball and quiet the home crowd, but Sharp, Lambert and Lallana are proving a real handful at the moment.
14 mins - Lallana again involved, this time curling a shot into the arms of Federici from the edge of the box.
12 mins - A couple of excellent chances for Saints. First Lallana plays in Sharp, who sees the ball taken off his feet by Shaun Cummings, then Royals fail to clear a couple of crosses and Federici has to get down sharply to turn a Lallana shot around the post. The hosts very much on top at the moment.
10 mins - First corner of the match goes to Reading as Danny Butterfield heads behind, and Gorkss meets the delivery but heads well over.
9 mins - More decent play from Saints, this time it ends with a Lambert flicking on for Lallana, who attempts to turn to find some space in the box but ends up deflecting his own cross behind for a goal kick.
8 mins - Good spell of possession from Saints ends with Lambert finding Richard Chaplow in a threatening position but his cross is cleared easily by Kaspars Gorkss.
6 mins - Chances at either end, first Adam Lallana finds Lambert on the edge of the box but he is outnumbered and Royals clear to McAnuff. He finds Roberts, who turns a defender but then also loses it close to the area with Noel Hunt in support.
4 mins - Ian Harte has his first opportunity to whip a free-kick into the box but the delivery is not deep enough and Saints clear on the edge of the area.
2 mins - First chance of the match goes to Saints, Billy Sharp chested it down to Rickie Lambert and he fired a shot across goal that Adam Federici got down low to stop. Decent effort from the Southampton forward from a tight angle but Federici always had it covered.
So, Saints start proceedings, playing towards the Reading fans...
Absolutely cracking atmosphere as the teams come out of the tunnel and on to the pitch, not an empty seat in the house and just a few minutes until kick-off.
Just 10 minutes to go until kick-off at St Mary's, Reading have just finished their warm-up, Saints are still on the pitch, even though the sprinklers are now on.
The sun is nearly set in the distance and the stadium is nearly full in anticipation of this top-of-the-table showdown.
The teams have just come out to start their warm-ups and the ground is filling up nicely both with home supporters and travelling fans.
It's a sell-out tonight at St Mary's and no wonder, with both sides on 82 points at the top of the Championship a win tonight for either team would surely all but guarantee promotion to the Premier League.
Lose, and West Ham could close the gap on the second-placed side to just three points if they beat Brighton at home tomorrow.
Southampton manager Nigel Adkins has compared the run-in to the Grand National in his programme notes, saying: "In the demands of a long season, every game is like a fence to jump, we have stayed in the race, and now we must look to go and win it."
Royals, though, have also stayed in the race and with 13 wins in their last 15 outings, are the form side in the division.
Reading: Federici; Cummings, Gorkss, Pearce, Harte; Kebe, Tabb, Mullins, McAnuff; Hunt, Roberts.
Subs: McCarthy, Gunnarsson, Afobe, Church, Le Fondre.
Saints: Davis; Butterfield, Fonte, Hooiveld, Fox; Chaplow, Hammond, Cork, Lallana; Sharp, Lambert. Subs: Richardson, Harding, Martin, De Ridder, Guly.
Welcome to St Mary's for a mouthwatering top-of-the-table clash in the Championship between leaders Southampton and Reading FC.
The sun is setting on the south coast with just 45 minutes to go until kick-off, and neither team is out yet to begin their warm-ups.
However, the early Reading team news is that Jay Tabb comes in to replace Tomasz Cywka and joins Hayden Mullins in the centre of midfield.
Mikele Leigertwood remains sidelined with a knee problem, while Jem Karacan, Matt Connolly, Mikkel Andersen and Hal Robson-Kanu are also out.
Saints are unchanged from their win at Crystal Palace, although Frazer Richardson returns to the squad on the bench.