Reading secured The Championship title as they drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace and later saw Southampton succumb to defeat at Middlesbrough.
This was Reading’s first game since securing promotion at home to Nottingham Forest on Tuesday night, where a 1-0 win was enough to secure top flight status. One change was made to that side as Hal Robson-Kanu returned from injury to replace the injured Jimmy Kebe.
There were a couple of early chances for Reading as the team hunted for the title. Jason Roberts cut back from the right but his cross could only find Speroni, then Kaspars Gorkss smashed a left footed shot just wide of the target.
But it was Crystal Palace who took the lead. The visitors started to play some delightful football and managed to work the ball out onto the right with some neat flicks. The ball was then played into the box where the impressive Wilfried Zaha got onto the end of it to turn it past Adam Federici.
Ian Harte then made Speroni worry with a free-kick but the Palace ‘keeper managed to save it at the second attempt. The away side’s celebrations were short lived as Reading piled on the pressure. Gorkss got on the end of a Harte corner and the Latvian powered a header past Speroni to send the home fans wild.
Palace then had two injury concerns as Speroni and McShane had to be taken off, with Price and Parsons coming on to replace them. Noel Hunt tried to test the new ‘keeper with a header from distance but he could never get the power on it as he was moving away from goal.
Federici made a great save before the controversial moment of the game occurred. Roberts and Jonathan Parr were running together to reach a loose ball, Roberts got in front of his man but as he shielded the ball caught Parr in the face with his arm. The card happy Andy D’Urso raced over and gave the red card quicker than you could say red card, and the front man was sent off to both the player’s and the fan’s dismay.
Choruses of boos rang out from the Madejski home sections and Parr was never allowed to forget this as he was booed for the remainder of the game, with every decision by D’Urso being greeted with chants of “off off off”.
At half-time Reading brought on Adam Le Fondre for Robson Kanu as Brian McDermott shook his team up. Zaha tried to put his side back into the lead with a good run but the shot didn’t match it and Federici saved easily. Le Fondre then tried his luck with a wonderful chip but it wasn’t to be as it went inches over.
But the striker was determined to get his goal and, as the rain came down in Berkshire, he got it. Hunt got the ball on the right and got a great cross into the box to find Le Fondre, who headed into the back of the net to send Reading into a 2-1 lead with ten men.
Hunt tried the same thing again but this time the Palace ‘keeper was there to intercept the cross. Jobi McAnuff then had a great chance as he picked up the ball and danced in and out of challenges before being denied by a wonderful last gasp challenge.
But the away side did eventually make their extra man count, and pulled level. Glen Murray smashed a volley into the bottom corner as he reacted quicker than Alex Pearce after they both went up for a header to smash into the falling ball.
Reading couldn’t create anything further in the game as the score stayed 2-2, but it was a good performance considering we played half the game with ten men. Middlesbrough then did all Reading fans a favour as they beat Southampton at the Riverside, meaning Reading were promoted as Champions to the Premier League. This is an extraordinary achievement considering our awful start of the season.