Match report: Adam Le Fondre lengthens Brian McDermott’s odds after first win for Reading

Reading 2 Everton 1

Madejski Stadium

As the betting on the Premier League sack race hotted up last week, Brian McDermott clenched his teeth and got on with business.

The Reading manager was up among the leading contenders for the chop and even had to shrug off reports that Dick Advocaat, the vastly experienced PSV Eindhoven boss, was ready to replace him.

Fear no more, Brian. Well, not for a while. Reading secured their first Premier League win yesterday - at the 11th attempt - with a battle-from-behind display that had highly touted Everton floundering amid a brace of second-half goals from Adam Le Fondre. The wait for three points, at last, was over.

Moving out of the bottom three was nice, too. “You can’t talk about that win now,” McDermott joked. “We’ve got it. Obviously, it’s a relief, but it’s been coming for some time and I’m just so pleased for the players. We were too respectful to Everton in the first half but we played with real tempo in the second.

“In any sport, you just need to stay in the game, and that’s what we did. I had a meeting with the four strikers and told them that’s it about the group and how I wanted them to be a team within our team. Adam took his goals well. I just had a gut feeling to play him today.”

Everton had started at pace. Adam Federici, the home goalkeeper, had to make a smart save from Phil Jagielka’s close-range effort, with Nikica Jelavic volleying over as the ball ran loose. The pressure mounted and, with Reading committing defensive suicide in their own area, the dam broke easily. Time and again defenders had the opportunity to clear to safety; time and again they squandered the chance. Marouane Fellaini’s huge presence caused further problems and Steven Naismith tucked away the loose ball via Federici’s diving body.

Straightaway Reading could have been level. Le Fondre chased on to a hopeful punt forward and beat the onrushing Tim Howard to it comfortably. However, presented with an empty net, albeit from an unfavourable angle, he chipped his shot high and wide of Howard but high and wide of the goal, too.

Normal service quickly resumed, with Everton’s authority growing by the minute. Federici did well to punch away a dipping 20-yarder from Thomas Hitzlsperger, Sean Morrison was fortunate to escape a penalty for handball when he inadvertantly blocked Jelavic’s volley and Jay Tabb had to nod off the goalline from Jagielka’s header.

“I’m probably as pissed off as I’ve ever been,” David Moyes, the Everton manager, said. “We were outstanding in the first half and we should have scored more but we just didn’t put the game to bed. It’s up to us to do that but we didn’t punish Reading, we just gave them every encouragement and always left the door slightly ajar.”

Moyes’ worst half-time fears were realised. Everton would regret not taking advantage of their overwhelming superiority. Reading reappeared reenergised after the interval, with a refreshingly different and more positive mindset. Instead of sitting back, they had a go - harassing and hassling their opponents at every opportunity. And Everton didn’t like it.

They liked it even less when Reading equalised six minutes into the second half. And if Reading’s defence had been culpable for the opening goal, Everton’s was just as poor for the leveller. Nicky Shorey curled over an inswinging free kick from the right and Le Fondre, without a challenger in sight, was allowed to nod past Howard.

Suddenly, Everton were a pale shadow of the side that had lost only once in their past 20 league matches, stretching back to last season. Reading’s will to win - at long last - was clearly the stronger and they reaped their reward with 12 minutes remaining, when Seamus Coleman rashly bundled Le Fondre over in the area as he waited to receive Chris Gunter’s cross.

Le Fondre showed no nerves from the spot, sending Howard emphatically the wrong way. And to emphasise how Reading’s luck had apparently changed, they survived a scare when Fellaini’s header from a Baines centre struck an upright ... and bounced straight into Federici’s grateful arms.

At the end, many in the record Madejski Stadium crowd, of 24,184, chanted McDermott’s name. Sack race? What sack race?

Reading (4-4-2): Federici; Gunter, Morrison, Gorkss, Shorey; Mcanuff, Leigertwood, Tabb, Robson-Kanu; Le Fondre (Hunt, 80), Roberts.

Everton (4-3-1-2): Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Heitinga, Baines; Osman, Hitzlsperger (Vellios, 81), Pienaar; Fellaini; Naismith (Oviedo, 78), Jelavic.

Referee: Martin Atkinson

Man of the match: Morrison (Reading)

Match rating: 7/10

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
news
Life & Style
tech
Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvRicky Gervais on the return of 'Derek' – and why he still ignores his critics
Sport
Luis Suarez of Liverpool celebrates his goal
sport
Arts & Entertainment
James Franco and Chris O'Dowd in Of Mice and Men on Broadway
theatreReview: Of Mice and Men, Longacre Theatre
Life & Style
Infant child breast-feeding with eyes closed
healthTo stop mummy having any more babies, according to scientists
News
news
Arts & Entertainment
film
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Arts & Entertainment
Homer meets Lego Marge in the 25th anniversary episode of The Simpsons, set to air on 4 May
tv
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey gets the North Korean leader's look
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

Education: Secret of Taunton's success

Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
10 best smartphones

10 best smartphones

With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
The pain of IVF

The pain of IVF

As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal