Football: McGhee struck dumb by late goals

Reading 2 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
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The Independent Online
Silence speaks volumes at this stage of the season and Mark McGhee was saying nothing. Roughly translated, this meant that his Wolves side had lost by sloppily conceding two goals in injury time, were uninspired and rarely proficient throughout most of a torpid match, and will have to indulge in a pulling-up socks session on the grand scale if they are to gain promotion to the Premiership.

This is hardly putting words into McGhee's mouth. The shortcomings were there for all to see before Reading's highest attendance of the season. Wolves had quite enough of the ball, but frequently wasted the pass which might have taken them into dangerous areas. There was a lack of wit allied to a tension in their approach which suggested that their nerve may yet fail them on the run-in.

Wolves were undefeated in an away match until January (and that to Bolton) but they have now lost six in all, four of them in succession. The knowledge that they have only one such fixture left is probably scant consolation, since it is a tricky outing at Port Vale.

For all their patent unease, Wolves ought to have taken the points at Elm Park. The goal they scored with 18 minutes left, when Mark Atkins nudged home Darren Ferguson's teasing corner, looked to be quite sufficient. Nothing that happened in the next 18 minutes suggested otherwise.

In the first minute of injury time, Stuart Lovell put Reading level with an astute volley. Six more minutes had elapsed when Lovell scored the winner. His first attempt was blocked, his second was perhaps more than the match deserved.

Apart from a pleasantly incisive spell at the start of the second half when Michael Meaker's passing caught out the opposition, Reading, too, were largely anonymous. They are not quite the side who McGhee nearly took to promotion two years ago before departing for more larger, if not yet greener, pastures.

He did wonders for Reading, and though he was given a hostile reception by fans who cannot forget the manner in which he left, he clearly has fond memories.

On transfer deadline day he bought Reading's long-serving, left winger Michael Gilkes and despite his obvious disappointment McGhee shook hands with each Reading player as he left the field. He just couldn't bring himself to talk about it.

Goals: Atkins (75) 1-0; Lovell (90) 1-1; Lovell (90) 2-1.

Reading (4-4-2): Mautone; Hopkins, Blatherwick, McPherson, Bernal; Meaker, Parkinson (Caskey, 32), Gooding, Lambert (Williams, 83); Lovell, Quinn (Glasgow, 73).

Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Stowell; Smith, Curle, Law, Froggatt (Thompson, 76); Atkins, Ferguson, Thomas, Gilkes (Venus, 87); Roberts, Goodman. Substitutes not used: Robinson.

Referee: T Lunt (Ashton-in-Makerfield).

Bookings: Reading: Hopkins, Parkinson. Wolves: Roberts, Law.

Man of match: Love.

Attendance: 14,853.