Match Report: Jimmy Kebe provides another dramatic Reading finish against Sunderland

Reading 2 Sunderland 1

the madejski stadium

Danny Graham got only 20 minutes and would have scored on his debut for Sunderland but for an agile save. At £5m, he could prove a snip. So, too, Hope Akpan, the bustling Reading midfielder bought from Crawley for a bargain £300,000.

To watch the highlights of this match, click here

On Christmas Day, Reading's players must have choked on their turkey. They had lost seven matches in a row – plenty of stuffing there – lay in last place in the Premier League and were six points off safety. Yet five weeks and seven matches on, Reading lie two points above the relegation zone. A fourth victory yesterday, to go with two draws in that period, has given them hope.

Much of their success has been based on gritty resilience, when all appears lost, and then, cobra-like, they have struck at the death. They were at it again yesterday when Jimmy Kebe rose alone at the far post, in the 85th minute, to head in Ian Harte's free-kick via the underside of the bar.

It was the 11th time this season that Reading have scored in the 80th minute or beyond. It may not have been one of their typical fightbacks – Kebe had given them an early lead, with Craig Gardner equalising – but it was an effective display. After all, Sunderland had been in rude form also, with five wins in nine league matches.

"Our dressing room is a very happy place," Brian McDermott, the Reading manager, said. "But it's not just the 11 players, it's the 18 players in the squad and the staff as well. I've had to learn and gain experience in this League and so have the players. We've had to find a way to win and we have done."

After Adam Le Fondre's recent heroics, most notably when he scored twice as a late replacement in Reading's 2-2 draw at home to Chelsea on Wednesday night, a starting place surely beckoned? Not so. McDermott kept him on the bench, a place that Martin O'Neill, the Sunderland manager, had reserved for Danny Graham, his £5 million purchase from Swansea.

Denuded of two prolific strikers, the first half could have been action-free. It wasn't, with both teams trading punches after they had extricated themselves from the congested midfield. Jobi McAnuff, having been booked after 29 seconds for a foul on Steven Fletcher, cut back a pass from the left-hand byline and Kebe lashed his shot high into the net.

From the role of "Comeback Kings", Reading had to adjust to leading from the front. They did not look comfortable with Adam Federici having to make an athletic double save to keep out Alfred N'Diaye and Fletcher. Worse still, Pavel Pogrebnyak commited a silly forward's challenge in his own area and brought down John O'Shea.

Gardner slotted in the penalty and although Pogrebnyak almost atoned, when it needed a superb save from Simon Mignolet to keep out his flicked header, Sunderland deserved their equality. Even more so after the interval, although Adrian Mariappa did nod a Harte corner against crossbar via Mignolet's fingertips.

Graham nearly made a dramatic debut, when replacing Stéphane Sessègnon with 20 minutes left, but Federici superbly stopped his powerful header. "That was a great save," O'Neill said. "To not score then, and then to concede that late goal, was very disappointing."

Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk