Ipswich 2-1 Reading
Ipswich Town have a secured a hard-fought 2-1 win over Reading to ease the
threat of relegation from the Championship this season.
Two goals in three first-half minutes sealed a crucial win for the hosts
against plucky ten-man Reading, whose own play-off chances suffered a potentially
Gareth McAuley and Jon Walters found the back of the net just before the
interval, after Matt Mills' contentious sending off, and the visitors could
only reply with Gylfi Sigurdsson's 90th minute free-kick.
Reading started the brighter and Ipswich hardly got out of their own half
for the first 15 minutes, but the hosts were the first to threaten when Daryl
Murphy pulled back from the byline and David Healy's angled shot was pushed
away by Adam Federici.
David Norris was booked for a dive after tangling with Zurab Khizanishvili
before Walters' downward header found Healy, whose overhead kick was palmed
away by Federici.
Brian Murphy in the Ipswich goal parried a Jobi McAnuff snap-shot from 20-yards
before Federici dived to hold Healy's curling effort, but the game changed
on the half-hour when Mills harshly saw red.
The defender and Norris both slid in for a 50-50 challenge with studs showing,
but Norris got there slightly ahead and Mills caught him with referee Keith
Stroud deciding it was worthy of a red card.
Federici saved from Daryl Murphy and Grant Leadbitter either side of McAnuff
blazing over from an angle, but Ipswich grabbed the lead on 41 minutes when
McAuley's firm header from Leadbitter's corner beat Federici and a defender
on the line.
Town doubled their lead on 44 minutes when David Wright's cross to the far
post was helped back into the centre by Daryl Murphy for Walters to beat sub
Alex Pearce and Khizanishvili to nod home.
If home fans thought their side would go on to win comfortably they were
in for a rude awakening as Reading dominated the early stages of the second
half, with Jimmy Kebe shooting over, Shane Long nodding over from McAnuff's
cross and both Sigurdsson and Brian Howard firing fierce drives just over
Ipswich finally perked up and began to move the ball about to take advantage
of their extra man as Murphy shot wide.
Youngster Connor Wickham came of the bench to head home, but his header was
correctly ruled out for offside.
Jack Colback then found Wright raiding forward and he cut inside his man
but his curling shot was easily claimed by Federici before Kebe's angled shot
at the other end was deflected just wide.
Wickham then surged forward onto a throw by 'keeper Brian Murphy before flashing
a shot wide and a neat Town passing move ended with a firm 20-yard drive from
Leadbitter being held by Federici.
Sub Pablo Counago played in Colback for a great chance to clinch it for Town,
but Federici blocked his first effort and then the on-loan Sunderland winger
blazed the rebound over.
Hal Robson-Kanu came on to drive narrowly wide following a lay-off from fellow
replacement Simon Church and Church then came within inches of reaching Kebe's
teasing cross right in front of goal.
In the final minute, Sigurdsson curled home a 22-yard free-kick to give Reading
hope, but Town held on comfortably enough, and could have increased the lead
but for a good save by Federici from Counago's volley.