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Reading beat Luton return to play-off places


Tom McIntyre scores
Reading-born Tom McIntyre got his first goal for the club having been with the Royals since he was an eight year-old

Reading moved back into the Championship play-off places after two first-half goals were enough to beat Luton Town at Madejski Stadium.

Tom McIntyre’s impressive sweeping left-footed volley from Sone Aluko’s outswinging corner gave the Royals an early lead.

Alfa Semedo made it 2-0 late in the half with his first Reading goal, calmly slotting home after a nice one-two with George Baldock on the edge of the Luton area.

The Royals ended a four-game run without an away goal in the final minute when substitute Kazenga LuaLua’s powerful low long-range effort beat Rafael Cabral, although the Royals goalkeeper could perhaps have done better to keep it out.

Reading move up to fifth place, and will remain in the play-off positions regardless of how sixth-placed Watford fare in the late game with leaders Norwich, while the Hatters slip a place to 15th.

McIntyre’s early opener was the only major incident for much of a quiet first half – it was a first-ever goal the 22-year-old academy product and was met with almost as much joy from the Royals bench after what appeared to be a well-worked training ground routine.

The second from Semedo – the only other shot on target in the first 70 minutes – ended the game as a contest, although Luton were aggrieved when Martin Cranie appeared to be fouled just inside the area by McIntyre, but the referee gave a free-kick outside the box shortly after the visitors had gone 2-0 down.

Luton manager Nathan Jones made three half-time changes as Kieran Dewsbury-Hall, Rhys Norrington-Davies and Danny Hylton came on and the Hatters did start to look better.

However, they could have been further behind had the referee given a penalty after Reading defender Michael Morrison looked like he was fouled in the area after an hour.

Luton did not meaningfully test Cabral until he smothered a Tom Lockyer effort with 10 minutes to go as the Hatters tried to rally late on – although Lualua’s late effort ensured the visitors did not go five away games without a goal, something they have not done in the EFL for 15 years.

Reading manager Veljko Paunovic told BBC Radio Berkshire:

“I think the guys did a fantastic job in the first half, very clinical in our approach, very similar to how we played in the beginning of the season when we started to build our identity and we learned how efficient it is for us, especially when we score first.

“In the second half we wanted to have a little bit more ball possession and create more opportunities, it didn’t happen, but we at least knew how to defend the result.

“Unfortunately we conceded that late goal, which made us a little bit nervous, but I think the team played in similar conditions and similar roles in a game against Cardiff this year when a similar thing happened.

“This time it was at home, so I like it when the team applies their experiences and learns from their past games so we can benefit from them in our future performances like today.”

Luton Town manager Nathan Jones told BBC Three Counties Radio:

“They showed a little bit more quality because the first goal was a wonderful strike, so there’s not much we can do about that, but really first half we didn’t do the basics well enough, we were a bit laboured.

“They broke really well with good athleticism to get the second, but second half we had so many opportunities, especially in and around their box and crosses without producing real, real quality, that’s the only thing I’m disappointed with.

“In terms of performance levels I’ve got no real issue overall, it’s just we can’t chase a game.

“We got in wonderful areas where we didn’t quite deliver a good enough ball to go bang, we didn’t hit the target on a shot or they got blocks on the shots, and when we did finally score it was probably too late.”

Line-ups

Reading

  • 33Cabral Barbosa
  • 2Pontes Esteves
  • 29Holmes
  • 4Morrison
  • 5McIntyreBooked at 44mins
  • 8Rinomhota
  • 28Laurent
  • 24AlukoSubstituted forWatsonat 90+1′minutes
  • 30SemedoSubstituted forSwiftat 67′minutes
  • 14Ejaria
  • 9Baldock

Substitutes

  • 1Southwood
  • 7Olise
  • 10Swift
  • 37Melvin-Lambert
  • 38Bristow
  • 43Watson
  • 44East
  • 46Onen
  • 48Dorsett

Luton

  • 1Shea
  • 2CranieBooked at 25minsSubstituted forDewsbury-Hallat 45′minutes
  • 15Lockyer
  • 5Bradley
  • 3PottsSubstituted forCornickat 77′minutes
  • 16ReaSubstituted forHyltonat 45′minutes
  • 18Clark
  • 8Berry
  • 17MpanzuSubstituted forLuaLuaat 65′minutesBooked at 75mins
  • 14MoncurSubstituted forNorrington-Daviesat 45′minutes
  • 19Collins

Substitutes

  • 4Tunnicliffe
  • 6Pearson
  • 7Cornick
  • 9Hylton
  • 12Sluga
  • 22Dewsbury-Hall
  • 24Norrington-Davies
  • 25LuaLua
  • 27Nombe

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