Reading 2-1 Wolves: Royals battle to victory
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 04/03/17 6:29pm
Reading ended a poor run in the Sky Bet Championship with a hard-fought 2-1 home win over Wolves to boost their play-off hopes.
After a dour first half, Reading went ahead three minutes into the second period when Yann Kermorgant was slightly fortunate to divert in a miscued effort from Danny Williams.
Wolves, still battling to steer clear of relegation, equalised two minutes later when Ben Marshall got on the end of a low cross from Nouha Dicko. But Reading regained the lead 12 minutes from time when Paul McShane headed home from a John Swift free-kick.
Wolves ended with 10 men when defender Mike Williamson was sent off in the 85th minute for a foul on Kermorgant, his second bookable offence.
Reading had won eight of their previous 10 home matches but had lost their past two games - 1-0 at Huddersfield and 3-0 at Brighton. Wolves, meanwhile, lost all five of their matches in February - four in the league and the FA Cup fifth-round tie against Chelsea.
A cagey opening by both sides resulted in little action in the early stages, with Reading content to build patiently from the back. When Reading did venture forward, much of their main threat came from Adrian Popa on the right wing.
Making his full debut after a move from Steaua Bucharest in January, the Romanian used his tricky skills to the full and gave Wolves left-back George Saville a severe examination.
Reading began to gain control before the interval, with Swift surging through from midfield. However, Williamson brought him crashing to the ground and was rightly booked. Swift took the free-kick but his tame effort from 30 yards was easily saved by Carl Ikeme.
Wolves responded with the best efforts of a poor first half. Helder Costa saw a well-struck drive deflected wide and, from Marshall's resultant corner, home goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi saved smartly from David Edwards' header.
The game finally sprung to life soon after the break, with two goals in three minutes. Reading went ahead in the 48th minute, when Kermorgant stuck out a foot to divert home Williams' mis-hit shot. It was Kermorgant's ninth goal of the season, making him Reading's leading scorer.
Wolves drew level in the 50th minute, when Marshall jabbed in a Dicko cross from close range via the post for his first goal for the club.
Wolves grew increasingly dangerous, with Al Habsi keeping out a firm effort from Conor Coady and then having to save an Edwards header.
Reading just about held firm and were rewarded in the 78th minute, when they regained the lead. Swift swung over a free-kick from the right and captain McShane rose unmarked in the Wolves area to nod past Ikeme.
Wolves' dismay was compounded late on when Williamson barged over Kermorgant and was dismissed.
Reading boss Jaap Stam:
"Finishing in the top six, it's difficult. You can't stop the players from thinking about it because it's normal, it's a logical reaction. If you're at a certain stage of the season and you're in the top six, everyone is thinking about it.
"You've done well the whole season, you've been third in the league for a long time and it would be a shame not to end up in the top six. We're all aware of that, people around the club were even talking about automatic promotion. But that's not going to happen."
Wolves boss Paul Lambert:
"We dominated the game in the second half and we just need to breaks to go for us rather than against us. If we keep playing the way we are, the law of averages tells you that it'll go for you. I feel a bit hard done by today.
"That's the way things tend to go when you're down there. But when you come through it, you'll be a stronger team for it. If we keep playing that way, we'll be totally fine. We had a lot of dominance against Reading, we just need those little breaks."