Fitting tribute as Town keep up with pace at top of the league
Goals from Callum Connolly and Joe Garner kept Town on the heels of the Play-Offs and gave a fitting send off to Dick Parker.
The players of both sides wore armbands as a tribute to the Academy kit man and training ground caretaker who passed away suddenly last weekend, with applause before the game and on 67 minutes [his age].
Connolly held aloft his black armband after putting Blues ahead early on with his third goal for the Club and Garner headed home from close range midway through the first-half.
Garner and Spence went close to adding a third, while at the end Bart Bialkowski was protected superbly by his defence as Town made it three wins from four at home.
Garner was the only change to the team that went down at Middlesbrough last weekend, the striker replacing the injured Emyr Huws.
Town got off to the perfect start on three minutes, Connolly rounding off a flowing move with a right foot drive from just inside the box.
Martyn Waghorn went close soon after, his shot drifting just wide, then Bersant Celina almost escaped the Reading defence until Paul McShane’s intervention.
The Royals responded with Sone Aluko’s free-kick from deep beating everyone and drifting just wide of the far post. Yann Kermorgant had a header blocked, Aluko pulling the rebound wide.
Jaap Stam’s side looked certain to level things up on 18 minutes when David Edwards blasted goalwards but Jordan Spence threw himself in the way to divert the ball away for a corner.
Kermorgant couldn’t get enough on a header from Joey van den Berg’s cross as Reading started to get behind the Town defence, Adam Webster at full stretch to clear from Kermorgant.
Spence set up Grant Ward after a driving run into away territory, the midfielder’s shot deflected over but from the corner, Town doubled the lead on 26 minutes. Garner heading in from close range after Webster’s near post flick.
Van den Berg’s shot was blocked inside the Town area, Modou Barrow with too much on his cross, while at the other end Celina couldn’t find Waghorn after he burst deep into Reading’s half.
Garner couldn’t keep his volley down from a corner, the striker then seeing another effort deflected behind, Garner again involved down the right, his strike diverted in Connolly’s direction but the Everton loanee couldn’t capitalise as the half came to an end with Blues in the driving seat.
Kevin Bru replaced the injured Cole Skuse at the break, the midfielder hurt in a tackle just before half-time.
Garner’s volley was blocked by Liam Moore as Town continued to threaten from corners, Bialkowski beating out Barrow’s shot from a tight angle as Reading looked for an early second-half lifeline.
A cleverly worked free-kick released Celina on the hour and only a goalline clearance from Moore prevented Town stretching the lead.
Bialkowski held firm from Tyler Blackett’s header, Barrow was wide with a volley at the far post then Spence left three opposition in his wake in a 60 yard charge downfield, only Vito Mannone preventing a goal of the season contender.
Waghorn showed all the confidence that comes with his form, sending a 40 yard effort at Mannone, Celina following suit, dancing his way into a great position before shooting over but Town had done the damage in the first-half.
Town: Bialkowski, Spence, Chambers, Webster, Knudsen, Ward, Connolly, Skuse (Bru 46), Celina (Iorfa 88), Waghorn, Garner (Sears 90). Subs not used: Crowe, Smith, Bishop, McGoldrick. Booked: Waghorn, Knudsen, Webster.
Reading: Mannone, Gunter, Van den Berg, McShane, Moore, Aluko (Bodvarsson 77), Edwards, Barrow, Kermorgant, Bacuna, Blackett (Kelly 73). Subs not used: Jaakkola, Beerens, Ilori, Clement, Richards. Booked: Barrow, Bacuna, McShane, Edwards,