Late goal blast as Town turn in Royal performance at the Madejski
Jordan Spence set up one and scored another to send Bryan Klug on his way to his first win as caretaker boss at Town.
Bart Bialkowski had kept Blues level with a save worthy of any World Cup call-up when he denied John Swift from close range before Town broke the deadlock on 70 minutes. Spence teed-up Martyn Waghorn for the 15th goal of the season.
Eight minutes later Spence went alone to fire in at the near post then Freddie Sears made it three on 90 minutes. There was still time for Callum Connolly to put the icing on the cake with a fourth and leave Reading looking anxiously over their shoulders at the relegation trap door going into the last week of the season.
Jonas Knudsen skippered Town from kick-off for the first time with Cole Skuse not fit after sickness, while Luke Woolfenden came in for his League debut in a team that also included fellow teenagers Tristan Nydam and Ben Folami.
Muzzy Carayol was prominent in the opening stages, firing across goal in Town’s first chance then defending well as Chris Gunter looked to get behind the Blues’ defence.
It was Carayol again who provided a threat for Town, the pacy wideman getting space for a cross that was destined for Waghorn until Tiago Ilori intervened.
Carayol volleyed goalwards from close range after getting on the end of Waghorn’s cross as the January arrival continued to influence the game, then at the other end Yann Kermorgant saw a shot deflected wide.
Jon Dadi Bodvarsson’s right foot strike was just wide, then Carayol again caused a problem for the Reading rearguard, his shot from 25 yards forcing Vito Mannone into a flying save.
The Royals should have been ahead on the half hour though, Mo Barrow crossed from the left and the ball begged to be put into the net but Bodvarsson fluffed his lines six yards out.
Mannone saved from Waghorn at his near post, the ‘keeper then doing enough to tip away Spence’s cross, which prompted a Reading break that ended with Barrow firing over.
Bialkowski held on comfortably from Sone Aluko’s curler before Carayol was forced off with injury just before half-time, Sears the replacement.
Kermorgant was denied by Woolfenden’s block as the second-half got underway, then Waghorn had a shout for a penalty for handball that referee Keith Stroud barely gave a glance to.
Mannone saved comfortably from Sears, Barrow’s incisive pass almost put in Aluko, then Barrow fired over from Kermorgant as the game turned up a notch in intensity.
Mannone did enough to keep out Waghorn’s corner, his counterpart Bialkowski in the right place to swallow up Gunter’s cross after the Reading skipper had got behind the Town defence.
Aluko volleyed wide at the far post from a great position, then Bialkowski produced a fantastic save to deny Swift after a rapid counter attack by the Royals.
It proved decisive, with Town breaking the deadlock on 70 minutes. Spence found Waghorn in yards of space inside the area and with Reading looking for the offside flag, Blues’ leading scorer found the roof of the net.
Stephen Gleeson replaced Nydam for the closing stages and Town virtually wrapped up the points straight after, Spence firing through Mannone’s legs from the angle.
Barry Cotter joined the fray for the final stages to add to Town’s teenage contingent and Blues struck twice in added on time through Sears and Connolly to register the biggest win of the campaign.
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, Moore, Swift, Aluko, Barrow, Kermorgant (Smith 81), Ilori, Bodvarsson (Martin 77), Kelly, Richards (Elphick 50). Subs not used: Jaakkola, Van Den Berg, Edwards, Rinomhota.
Town: Bialkowski, Woolfenden, Webster, Spence, Knudsen, Kenlock, Connolly, Nydam (Gleeson 77), Carayol (Sears 44), Waghorn, Folami (Cotter 89). Subs not used: Crowe, Celina, Morris, McLoughlin.