Match report: Reading 0 Ipswich Town 4 – Sears ends goal drought as Klug’s men end with a flourish
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Ipswich Town scored four late goals – including two in stoppage-time – to thrash relegation-threatened Reading at the Madejski Stadium.
After an organised and disciplined away day display, Martyn Waghorn broke the deadlock in the 71st minute when firing high into the net before he turned provider when an exquisite touch led to Jordan Spence lashing an angled shot inside the near post (79).
The icing on the cake came at the death when Freddie Sears ended his year-long, 38-game goal drought by charging down the on-rushing keeper before heading home from close-range. Moments later, Waghorn slipped in Callum Connolly to rifle home in front of the delirious away fans.
These were the first points gained under Bryan Klug’s caretaker management and came just a week on from a 4-0 home defeat to Aston Villa. It was a result which equalled the biggest margin of victory achieved during Mick McCarthy’s five-and-a-bit years in charge – a 4-0 home win against Middlesbrough when Terry Connor was in charge.
While Town are up to 13th ahead of their season-finale against Middlesbrough at home next Sunday, Reading head to Cardiff next weekend still needing a point to guarantee survival.
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After a quiet start to the match, Town carved out the first real chance of the game in the 14th minute when Mustapha Carayol burst to the byline and saw a low pull-back cut out just ahead of Waghorn in the six-yard box.
The Blues had joy up the opposite flank four minutes later when Myles Kenlock’s sweeping low cross was met in the box by Carayol, but his side-footed attempt hit team-mate Ben Folami on the way to goal.
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Reading’s first opening arrived in the 20th minute when a corner delivery fell loose at the near post and Yann Kermorgant’s angled effort was blocked by Waghorn.
Moments later, Jon Dadi Bodvarsson’s turn and shot from the edge of the area was deflected behind.
The Blues’ system was very much an organised 5-4-1 out of possession, but quickly became a 3-4-3 in attack with the front three given the freedom to interchange.
Carayol was proving to be Town’s biggest threat with his pace and direct running. And it was his excellent dipping 30-yard effort that Vito Mannone pushed behind in the 24th minute.
The Royals missed a golden chance to break the deadlock in the 26th minute when Bodvarsson completely missed the ball inside the six-yard box following Mo Barrow’s sweeping cross from the left.
The hosts had another sight at goal towards the end of the half too when, at the end of a rapid counter, Barrow lashed an angled effort high into the near side-netting.
A reasonably positive half ended on a sour note for the Blues though as Carayol – due to be out of contract this summer - pulled up with a muscle injury and had to be replaced by Freddie Sears.
Reading hit the base of the post six minutes after the restart when Bodvarsson flicked on Aluko’s corner.
The match failed to burst into life though and as both Aluko and Sears had low attempts easily held at both ends.
When home midfielder John Swift twice gave the ball away cheaply under little pressure there were howls of derision from the Reading fans.
They were lifted slightly though when Barrow stabbed over at the end of an intricate one-touch move just after the hour.
Not long afterwards, Aluko didn’t get good contact on a far post volley following Barrow’s run and cross.
And in an increasingly open game, Reading were denied at the end of a rapid counter-attack from a cleared corner when Bartosz Bialkowski tipped over Swift’s close-range attempt.
It was Town who would break the deadlock in the 71st minute. After Sears’ cross was only half-cleared, the Reading defence switched off and Jordan Spence was able to roll a pass into the feet of an unmarked Waghorn in the area. The Blues striker spun and lashed home high into the net for his 15th goal of the campaign.
The Blues then grabbed the killer second in the 79th minute thanks to some clever play in the final third. First, Waghorn played an exquisite first-time ball around the corner tight to the right touchline. Spence waited and waited to pull the ball back and then, after a couple of decoy runs occupied defenders, he lashed a low shot under the keeper and inside the near post.
Then came the two goals in stoppage-time which added icing to the cake.
Sears charged down advanced keeper Vitor Mannone, the ball ballooned up in the air and, after what seemed like an age for the ball to drop, Sears was left with the simple task of nodding in right on the goalline.
Moments later, shell-shocked Reading lose the ball in midfield and Waghorn slipped a pass to the overlapping Connolly to rifle home.