Roberts has spring in his step with Reading

Reading 2 Coventry 0: Blackburn cast-off has a quick return to the Premier League in sight after finding a work ethic that suits him

The Madejski Stadium

Jason Roberts' exile from the Premier League might be mercifully brief. He left Blackburn Rovers for Reading last month, but after orchestrating consecutive wins over Bristol City and Coventry City, he finds only goal difference separating his new team from the play-off places.

With Reading threatening another of their spring-time surges up the table, Roberts is clearly pleased with the ethos and the atmosphere he has found at the Madejski Stadium. "I have been in the game long enough to tell, the fact that everybody is pulling in the same direction, the fact that there is a good work ethic and good team spirit," he said after Saturday's 2-0 win over Coventry, in which he made one goal and scored the other. "Today was not a vintage performance, but there is a lot of credit that goes to the squad because there were a lot who didn't get on the bench who have been performing fantastically."

Accelerating down the final straight has become a habit of Brian McDermott's side. In both his full seasons as manager, Reading have won six of their final eight home games. With the imminent takeover by Russian billionaire Anton Zingarevich funding the January recruitment of Roberts and Matthew Connolly, Reading are in an especially strong position to return to the top flight.

"It's obviously different to the Premier League but there is a big challenge here," Roberts said. "Good people, a good club; I am really happy to be part of it at a good time. We are in a good place as a squad."

On Saturday, Roberts was the continual reference point for his team-mates. Their first instinct was always to look for him and, more often than not, they were rewarded. Roberts moved with the intelligence of a top-flight forward, an impression strengthened by the precision of his touch. His delightful backheel to Jimmy Kébé set up Reading's first goal.

McDermott is clearly delighted by the impact Roberts has made already, one that goes beyond mere football. "It's just having him around, really: as a focal point for our attack and as a person as well," he said. "He's a great lad; the lads gravitate toward him, they like having him around the place. And he can hold the ball up and keep it, and we can build off him."

Roberts' goal came in the final minutes of the first half, bundling in Connolly's header from almost insultingly close range. "It could have come off anywhere," Roberts admitted afterwards. "Where does it rank? Not up there, but it won't say it was a good goal in the Rothmans."

Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici, one of the few remaining from Steve Coppell's Premier League side, is thrilled about the possibility of a return. "I was fortunate enough to get a little taste and make a few appearances," he remembered. "I've seen what it does for the town and the club. It's where everyone wants to play and everyone wants to be. Hopefully we can push ourselves this season."

Having been at Reading for seven years, Federici knows what a blessing the new investment is. "It is a boost, of course," he said. "This club has been fantastically run for a number of years without this financial backing but it's a great thing for the players and staff and the town to know there's extra financial backing."

Federici admitted that he had been obliged to make more saves than he expected by a tidy Coventry side. "It was a difficult day, very cold, bobbly pitch and tough for a goalkeeper," he said. "There were a lot of things around my feet and crosses to deal with."

After a quiet first half, Federici had to make three or four excellent second- half saves to preserve Reading's two-goal lead. "It's just disappointing because on another day we could have been talking about an away win," Coventry's Gary McSheffrey said. "But when Federici needed to make one or two great saves he has done it to keep Reading in the game and we've gifted them two goals."

Coventry are eight points adrift of safety, though, and McSheffrey conceded his fears about a relegation to the third tier: "It's not nice. I'm from Coventry and it wouldn't be nice to be part of the first team to go down into the third tier of English football. I was born in '82 and it's unheard of. We were always top tier until we came down and then second tier."

Tomorrow night Coventry host Leeds United, and McSheffrey knows how important victory is. "It's frustrating, but just one win and it can change," he said. "We've just got to keep believing because as soon as you stop believing it becomes a bit embarrassing. We've got 16 games left – that's 48 points to play for. We've got to play everyone in the bottom half."

Match facts



Scorers: Reading Kebe 25, Roberts 43.

Substitutes: Reading Church 6 (Hunt, 67), Cywka (Kebe, 76), Tabb (Leigertwood, 87). Coventry City Clarke 6 (Wood, 7), Bell 6 (Clingan, 59), Baker (Deegan, 76).

Booked: Reading Leigertwood. Coventry Christie, Cranie, Clarke.

Man of the match Roberts. Match rating 6/10. Possession: Reading 51% Coventry 49%.

Attempts on target: Reading 5 Coventry 4.

Referee D Coote (Nottinghamshire). Attendance 18,006.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
peopleJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice