Sky Bet Championship: Fulham manager Felix Magath defends Matt Smith after red
Last Updated: 13/09/14 6:31pm
Fulham manager Felix Magath defended Matt Smith after the striker was sent off in the 18th minute of his side's 3-0 defeat at Reading, whose boss Nigel Adkins was delighted.
Magath claimed that debutant Smith, who joined from Leeds on deadline day, was provoked by an earlier challenge from an unidentified Reading player before he received a red card for a wild lunge on midfielder Hope Akpan.
"I have spoken with him," Magath said.
"Sure, he made a mistake. But in the first seconds of the match he was wrestled down. There was no ball there but someone, I don't know who, wrestled him.
"That was frustrating for an ambitious young man. But if a player is not protected by the referee, he has to try to protect himself.
"It was wrong what he did but he has apologised to everyone. He is a good guy and we will miss him for three games."
After Fulham had gone 2-0 down in the second half, their fans aimed choruses of "You're getting sacked in the morning" and "Felix out" at the German, whose side now lie bottom of the Championship after five defeats in six games.
"I didn't hear that," Magath said. "I was involved in the game. But it was terrible that we started so badly today. I can understand the fans' frustration. We are frustrated also."
After 18 minutes, Fulham were 1-0 behind and a man down after the sending off of Smith.
Glenn Murray had given Reading the lead in the 15th minute. The striker, on loan from Crystal Palace until January, marked his debut with a close-range header from a Jordan Obita cross.
Three minutes later Smith was given a straight red card for fouling Akpan in midfield.
Fulham responded well, with home goalkeeper Adam Federici making a fine save to keep out a fiercely struck effort from Chris David.
But Reading swiftly regained control and never relinquished it, with Murray and Chris Gunter going close to stretching their lead before the interval.
In the 54th minute, they went further ahead. Obita swung over a corner from the right and Murray rose high to nod in his second goal. Reading completed an easy win in the 85th minute, when substitute Nick Blackman rounded Fulham goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly and prodded the ball into an empty net.
"We started the game really well and it was a fantastic first goal from Glenn," Reading manager Nigel Adkins said.
"The sending off was the turning point but we still had to break them down.
"We played some good passing football and created some great chances. There's a great camaraderie in this squad. It's not just an 11-man game any more."
Adkins defended his decision to take off Murray, who has not played much football of late due to injury.
"Strikers always want a third goal but I've got to look at the bigger picture," Adkins said. "He could have stayed on but what if he had broken down?"