A late Josh Laurent stunner and valiant defending saw Reading gain a valuable 1-0 win over promotion-chasing Blackburn Rovers to ease relegation fears.

With Barnsley and Derby County both dropping points, a win on a blustery afternoon at the Select Car Leasing Stadium ensured the club grew the gap between themselves and the Tykes, the Royals’ next opponents, to five points.

Paul Ince named an unchanged team from the one that drew 1-1 with Bournemouth on Tuesday, and the side delivered again.

The visitors started in the ascendency and had the first effort on goal when former Birmingham City striker Sam Gallagher floated a header wide of the far post within the opening five minutes. Full-back Ryan Giles came close shortly after following a neat one-two with Tyrhys Dolan inside the box before striking toward Orjan Nyland in the Reading net.

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However, after that it was all Royals in the first period. Tom Ince, fresh off of opening his account for the club in midweek at Bournemouth, found the ball at his feet following a Tom McIntyre cross, but was foiled by Thomas Kaminski in the net. Right-back Andy Yiadom was net to try his luck after a spell of Reading possession deep in the Blackburn half made its way across to the right. The Ghanaian cut in and hit a powerful shot on target but saw his attempt clawed away.

The hosts had two clear chances to take the lead in the final 15 minutes before the break, both guilt-edged opportunities. Firstly, a beautiful cross is whipped in and lands perfectly on Lucas Joao’s head but the Championship Player of the Month for February could only head straight at the Rovers keeper. Josh Laurent went just as close following another good piece of link-up play between Swift and Joao. The attacking, midfielder who has just returned from a bout of Covid-19, played a delightful flick for the onrushing Laurent, who’s firm strike was again palmed away by Kaminski on the goal line. On the stroke of half time, it was not third time lucky for Joao, who curled a strike just wide of the far post for a goal kick as Reading ended the half disappointed that they could not take a lead into the interval.

Reading Chronicle:

The second half started as the first did, with Blackburn asserting heavy pressure throughout the second period, however both sides created very little in the way of clear-cut chances, unlike the first period. Dolan and Gallagher had early snapshots and goal, as did Royals left-back Tom McIntyre, but it was Bradley Dack who had the best of the second half chances. The Rovers talisman was a second half substitute and brought a visible lift to Mowbray’s side. A through-ball found the former Gillingham midfielder in the box, one-on-one with Nyland in net, but the Norwegian held his ground and managed to save on his goal line. The ball came back out to onrushing Rovers players, but Michael Morrison managed to scramble clear just in time.

With the clock ticking down Reading needed a hero, and Laurent delivered. After good work from McIntyre down the left, the ball was cleared but only as far as the edge of the box where an onrushing Laurent connected sweetly to send the ball flying over Kaminski’s head and nestled in the corner, giving Ince’s side a lead to cling to.

Cling they did, and despite desperate attempts the visitors could not find a way past Nyland.