Reading 3 Blackpool 1: Royals stay second with win over play-off hopefuls

Reading 3 Blackpool 1: Royals stay second with win over play-off hopefuls

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UPDATED:

18:33 GMT, 24 March 2012

Second-placed Reading moved four points clear of West Ham in the npower Championship with an impressive victory over play-off contenders Blackpool.

The hosts took the lead in the 30th minute when Ian Harte followed up after Jobi McAnuff struck the woodwork, and five minutes later the Royals doubled their advantage.

McAnuff was again the provider, chipping to the back post for Alex Pearce to head home.

On a roll: Reading won again to consolidate second place

On a roll: Reading won again to consolidate second place

MATCH FACTS

Reading: Federici, Cummings, Pearce, Gorkss, Harte, Kebe, Leigertwood, Karacan, McAnuff, Hunt, Afobe (Church 69). Subs not used: Andersen, Tabb, Le Fondre, Robson-Kanu.

Scorers: Harte 30, Pearce 35, Leigertwood 60.

Blackpool: Gilks, Baptiste, Evatt, Cathcart, Crainey, Sylvestre (Ince 64), Basham, Ferguson, Taylor-Fletcher (Dobbie 64), LuaLua (Matt Phillips 64), Kevin Phillips. Subs not used: Angel, Harris.

Booked: Baptiste.

Scorer: LuaLua 41.

Referee: Fred Graham.

Attendance: 20,906.

After losing for the first time in 10
matches at Peterborough in midweek, Reading were evidently in the mood
to get back to winning ways.

Lomana LuaLua pulled a goal back for
the visiting Tangerines just before the break with a stunning strike
from long range but after the interval Mikele Leigertwood nodded in
Reading's third.

Royals manager Brian McDermott handed
new loan signing Benik Afobe his debut up front in place of the injured
Jason Roberts while Hayden Mullins dropped out of the matchday squad,
with Shaun Cummings returning on the right of defence.

Craig Cathcart came back into the
Blackpool backline and Chris Basham, Ludovic Sylvestre and LuaLua were
all handed recalls as Ian Holloway made four changes.

Reading could have taken an early
lead when Jimmy Kebe's fizzing goalbound effort from 12 yards struck
Noel Hunt a yard out and rebounded to safety.

After spending the opening exchanges
firmly on the back foot, the away side steadily gained a foothold on
proceedings and only Jem Karacan's block prevented Gary
Taylor-Fletcher's effort from finding the back of the net.

But Reading always looked dangerous and took the lead after half an hour.

Leigertwood chested the ball into the
path of McAnuff, and after the Royals skipper struck both posts with
his attempt Harte was on hand to slot home.

Moments later the Royals were two goals to the good.

McAnuff's delicate cross to the back
post was met by Pearce and the centre-back sent a superb header back
over Gilks and into the far corner.

It seemed Reading were quickly
putting themselves out of sight, but Blackpool were handed a sensational
lifeline four minutes before half-time.

LuaLua collected possession 30 yards
from goal and in a fairly innocuous position, but the forward produced a
blistering finish to beat Adam Federici to his top left-hand corner.

After a quiet start to the second
period, Hunt blasted high and wide from Akobe's neat knock-down while
Federici had no problem dealing with Phillips' header at the other end
as both sides pushed for the all-important fourth goal of the game.

And in the end it was the home side
who re-established their two-goal cushion, with Leigertwood rising
unmarked in the area to head home Harte's free-kick on the hour mark.

Hunt came close to putting the game
to bed when he latched on to substitute Simon Church's flick-on, only to
drag his shot wide from the edge of the box but Reading had already
done enough to consolidate their place in the automatic promotion
places.