Boro win again
Middlesbrough made it two wins from two to lift the pressure on Gordon Strachan as they defeated Reading 3-1.
By Graeme Bailey
Last Updated: 18/09/10 6:02pm
Middlesbrough made it two wins from two to lift the pressure on under-fire boss Gordon Strachan as they defeated Reading 3-1 at The Riverside.
Boro beat Burnley in midweek and they followed that up with another home success as they moved to within four points of second place.
Barry Robson fired Boro ahead after just 26 seconds, and the lead was soon doubled when Leroy Lita struck against his former club.
Jimmy Kebe gave Reading some hope as he struck just before the interval, but David Wheater's header just after the hour sealed the win.
The day went from bad to worse for Reading as Brian Howard was sent off late on.
The result lifts Boro above the Royals in the Championship table and Strachan will take great heart from a much-improved showing in which his side finally displayed their promotion credentials.
Tarmo Kink was recalled to the Boro side after coming off the bench to score both of his side's goals in Tuesday's 2-1 win over Burnley.
Nicky Bailey and Wheater also returned, with Gary O'Neil and Matthew Bates missing out and Halliday dropping to the bench.
Brynjar Gunnarsson replaced Simon Church in the only alteration to the Reading side that drew 0-0 at Millwall.
Boro made a stunning start and took the lead when Robson latched on to a neat through-ball from Bailey and broke clear before cracking a powerful left-footed shot into the far corner.
Reading struggled to respond and were grateful to Adam Federici as the goalkeeper denied Lita on two occasions before keeping out another firm strike from Robson.
Reading had a lucky escape in the 22nd minute when Scott McDonald volleyed against the bar following an error by Matt Mills.
The Royals were then denied by the woodwork themselves as Kebe directed a shot onto the post from Jobi McAnuff's cross.
Kink and Bailey fired over as Boro continued to enjoy the better of proceedings.
And the hosts added a second goal four minutes before the interval when Lita beat the offside trap before squeezing a shot past Federici.
The Royals were handed a lifeline in the 44th minute courtesy of a stunning individual strike from Kebe, who exchanged passes with Howard and waltzed past several challenges before side-footing home.
Reading then saw appeals for a penalty rejected after Julio Arca appeared to
barge Shane Long to the ground.
Kink wasted a glorious chance to grab a third for Boro eight minutes after the interval, the Estonian dragging his shot wide after being put through one-on-one.
A deflected effort from the lively Lita flew narrowly wide as the Teessiders piled on the pressure once again.
Gunnarsson blocked a Wheater strike from the resulting corner, before Harte went close at the other end with a thunderous strike that ricocheted off a Boro defender.
Reading's hopes of rescuing something from the game then suffered a hammer blow as Wheater rose highest to convert Robson's inswinging corner from the right.
The visitors huffed and puffed in search of a second goal, but were unable to seriously test Boro keeper Jason Steele.
A miserable afternoon for Reading was rounded off when Howard saw red after appearing to go over the ball in a challenge with Halliday.