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Reading 2 Middlesbrough 0

Aitor Karanka made four changes from the side that lost to Millwall.

Jacob Butterfield, Grant Leadbitter, Lee Tomlin and Jonathan Woodgate dropped to the bench as Jozsef Varga, Ben Gibson, George Friend and Luke Williams returned.

Nigel Adkins made three changes from the side beaten 3-0 away at Wigan on Good Friday. Michael Hector, Hope Akpan and Pavel Pogrebnyak all dropped to the bench, replaced by Hal Robson-Kanu, Danny Guthrie and Adam Le Fondre.

With all to play for, Reading made a determined start and Dimi Konstantopoulos was quickly in action, diving full-length to his left to turn away a powerful shot from Danny Williams.

For the next few minutes Boro matched stride with their hosts but failure to deal with a left-wing cross cost them dearly on nine minutes.

Jordan Obita sent over a teasing delivery from the left, Konstantopoulos was looking ready to collect but Kenneth Omeruo headed it away from him and when a return cross was sent in low from the right by Garath McCleary, leading scorer Adam Le Fondre was on hand to tuck in from just inside the six-yard box.

It got worse with 14 minutes played when Obita swung in an excellent free-kick from the Reading right. Two Boro players went for the same ball with the final touch appearing to come off the head of George Friend as the ball flew past Konstantopoulos.

Boro set about reducing arrears and Emmanuel Ledesma sent Danny Graham through the middle and he wasn't far from making a mark, then Albert Adomah shot from 20 yards, an effort that was deflected just over.

Adkins was forced into a change when Robson-Kanu was caught accidentally by Gibdon's flailing arm and after lengthy treatment he was able to walk off holding his nose and shirt splattered with blood, to be replaced by Pogrebnyak.

The change did little to alter the stride of the home side and when Le Fondre set up Danny Williams to shoot low from 20 yards, Konstantopoulos was forced into another flying save away to his left.

His opposite number, Alex McCarthy, was forced into similar action a few minutes later when Ledesma had a go from 20 yards and the goalkeeper needed a second attempt to gather. He wasn't troubled soon after as Ledesma shot again, this time the effort going a yard wide of his left-hand post.

The Argentinian was determined to make his mark and a few minutes later went for goal again with a 22-yard shot which bounced awkwardly in front of McCarthy who did well to block the effort.

Two timely interceptions from Omeruo late in a half that had over seven minutes of injury-time prevented further potential problems. With two goals conceded and two yellow cards, one of them the 14th of the season for Whitehead (one more and he will serve a three-match ban), Aitor Karanka had plenty to work on.

There had been glimpses of what might be achieved with Ledesma going close but the Boro boss needed more than that.

Half-time: Reading 2 Middlesbrough 0

There was a change at the start of the second half as Nate Chalobah was replaced by Leadbitter. Another followed soon after as Guthrie limped off and was replaced by Akpan.

Boro saw a lot more of the ball from the start of the second half but rarely was McCarthy called into action. The Royals were not as fluent as they were for large periods of the first half and their fans knew it.

But other than a sliced effort from Adomah that went horribly wide, Boro had little to show for their possession.

Reading, breaking free, won a free-kick just up from the right-hand edge of the Boro penalty area. They couldn't make that count, but nearly did with another chance soon afterwards, with Konstantopoulos diving away to his left to gather a Le Fondre header.

The striker almost added to his tally 17 minutes from time when getting on the end of a right-wing cross and looping a header over Konstantopoulos but onto the bar.

The Boro goalkeeper was back in action a couple of minutes later when making an excellent save away to his left to turn around a low shot from Pogrebnyak, who had wriggled past a couple of challenges on his way to the edge of the Boro penalty area. Surprisingly, the officials awarded a goal-kick.

Another good save away to his left denied McCleary, while in the final minute Danny Graham was denied what would have been a consolation goal as he pounced on a mistake only for McCarthy to grab the ball off his feet.

Boro's fans had been behind their team all night and as they took the applause they deserved from the players. Adomah went over to them and gave his shirt to one of them, shaking hands with a few more.

Scorers: Le Fondre, 9; Friend, og 14.

Reading: McCarthy; Gunter, Pearce, Morrison, Guthrie (Akpan 50), McAnuff (Capt), McCleary, Robson-Kanu (Pogrebnyak 29), Williams, Obita, Le Fondre. Subs: Federici (gk); Leigertwood, Drenthe, Cummings, Hector.

Middlesbrough: Konstantopoulos; Varga, Gibson, Omeruo, Friend, Ledesma (Tomlin 64), Chalobah (Leadbitter 46), Whitehead (Capt), Adomah, L Williams, Graham. Subs: Steele (gk); Ayala, Woodgate, Butterfield, Main.

Referee: James Adcock


Reading: McAnuff
, 67, foul.
Middlesbrough: Whitehead, 33, foul; Varga, 41, foul; Friend, 71, foul; Tomlin, 87, dissent.

Attendance: 17,228 (659 Boro)

Conditions: Dry, mild and still

Possession: Reading 53% Middlesbrough 47%

Website Boro Man of the Match: Dimitrios Konstantopoulos




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