Football

Royals stake promotion claim: Match Review

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Reading outlined their promotion credentials with an emphatic 3-0 victory over Doncaster in the npower Championship.

Shane Long continued his hot scoring streak as he fired the Royals into a first-half lead with a cool finish to net his eighth goal in the last seven games.

Jimmy Kebe grabbed the second when he lobbed the poorly-positioned Neil Sullivan after the break and Jobi McAnuff made sure the points were heading south when he blocked a clearance that flew into the bottom corner.

The win sees Brian McDermott's men keep fast on the tail of the play-off pack and on this showing a promotion charge in the second half of the season is well within their capabilities.

Despite a bright start, Doncaster suffered a rare off-day at the Keepmoat and were condemned to their first home defeat since October, though they should have had a penalty with the score at 1-0 for a handball.

Both sides came into the game in good form, having avoided defeat against Premier League teams in the FA Cup last week, with Doncaster holding Wolves, while Reading disposed of West Brom.

Doncaster settled quicker in blustery conditions as John Oster tested Adam Federici with a stinging low drive, while James O'Connor was just unable to latch onto Billy Sharp's header.

Reading came into the game with Kebe looking a threat down the right and it was the winger who was the architect behind the Royals' 29th-minute opener.

Kebe broke down a Doncaster attack and advanced past the halfway line before setting Long clear with a pinpoint ball over the top.

And the in-form striker made no mistake as he converted with a cute touch past Sullivan to score his 14th goal of the season, with a finish that oozed confidence.

Doncaster had opted for a 3-5-2 formation for the first time this season, but Rovers boss Sean O'Driscoll had to have second thoughts and changed to a 4-5-1 after Long's goal.

It did not have much of an effect, though, as Reading continued to pen the hosts into their own half.

And they were inches away from extending their lead a minute before the break after a moment of brilliance from Long.

He picked up the ball on the edge of the area before evading three defenders with a juggling run, but his hooked effort went just over the bar with Sullivan beaten.

Doncaster were going to have to improve significantly in the second period if they were to protect their unbeaten run at home, but they found it difficult to locate their normal fluid game.

However, they should have found a way back into the game just before the hour mark when referee Eddie Ilderton denied them a clear-cut penalty after skipper Ivar Ingimarsson blocked Sharp's shot with his hand.

And Reading dealt them a bitter blow 10 minutes later when they doubled their lead in the 67th minute.

Kebe raced on to a pass from Mikele Leigertwood and Sullivan inexplicably came off his line, leaving Kebe the simple task of lobbing the ball over the stranded keeper from 20 yards into an empty net.

The points were in the bag with 16 minutes remaining with McAnuff the recipient of some good fortune when he blocked Adam Lockwood's clearance and the ball flew into the bottom corner.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
John Oster
Adam Lockwood
Football
Jimmy Kebe
James O'Connor
Adam Federici
Billy Sharp
Shane Long
Mikele Leigertwood
James O'Connor
Ivar Ingimarsson
Jobi McAnuff
Neil Sullivan
FA Cup
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