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Pavel Pogrebnyak struck his third league goal for Reading to give Brian McDermott’s side their second Barclays Premier League win of the season as they beat West Ham United.
Reading had halted a run of seven defeats with a draw at home to Swansea City on Boxing Day and went one better against Sam Allardyce’s side, moving three points clear of bottom club Queens Park Rangers in the process.
McDermott had said before the game that his players would do whatever they had to do to start picking up victories. As it turns out they had to do almost nothing to beat a lacklustre West Ham as James Collins presented Pogrebnyak with a gift. The West Ham defender looked to play a simple ball back to goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen but mishit the ball and Pogrebnyak stole in to slot past the Finn and put Reading ahead with just five minutes on the clock.
Reading winger Jimmy Kebe was causing problems down the right early on and a 14th-minute cut-back almost found Pogrebnyak but was cleared. Two minutes later the same duo combined well on the edge of the area but Kebe’s final ball drifted behind for a goal-kick. West Ham struggled to make an impression in attack but captain Kevin Nolan released Matt Taylor just before the half-hour but his cross was collected by Reading goalkeeper Adam Federici.
A few tough tackles started flying in as the first half progressed with Pogrebnyak joining West Ham’s Mark Noble in referee Michael Oliver’s notebook for a foul on Winston Reid. The hosts gifted West Ham a half-chance in the final seconds of the first half as they dallied on the ball outside their own penalty area. Nolan pounced and found Gary O’Neil but he appeared to be caught in two minds and his final ball was neither a shot or a cross.
Pogrebnyak had the ball in the back of the net again five minutes after the restart but was flagged offside after latching on to a through ball from Mikele Leigertwood. Allardyce introduced Jack Collison in place of Taylor with 54 minutes gone with the Wales international making only his second appearance since returning from a knee injury. The 24-year-old almost drew the visitors level 10 minutes later but his low shot was parried by Federici with no West Ham player able to tap home the rebound.
Although West Ham were starting to finally find their feet in the game they almost fell further behind when Jem Karacan’s thunderous effort was tipped on to the bar by Jaaskelainen with Kebe firing the rebound into the crowd.
Ricardo Vaz Te was the next player to be thrown on by Allardyce with the Portuguese returning to first-team action for the first time since dislocating a shoulder in early October. The winger flashed a cross in with 10 minutes remaining that was hacked clear by Chris Gunter in front of the sliding Modibo Maiga. Vaz Te was involved again moments later as he missed West Ham’s best opening of the game, heading Matt Jarvis’ cross wide of the goal from four yards.
Reading managed to see out the closing stages to claim what could be a vital three points while West Ham’s lack of away goals again proved their undoing. They have only scored five goals on their travels in the league so far this season and the defeat leaves them only six points off the bottom three.
Reading manager Brian McDermott: "We tried to play a style of football here which entertains our fans. But 4-3s, 3-3s, 2-2s, 7-5s; if the results are going against you that is not what the fans want to see and they start shouting at me.
"So today they got a result, our fans got a result and that is what they want to see and we have something to build on. A 0-0 with Swansea, the performance at Man City and the performance again today and another three points, that is four points from three games and gives us something to build on."
"[We have made] a tactical switch, a mindset switch, we have to do what we have to do to pick up results and I have been fortunate in the last three years that I have got results - we are in a results business whatever league we are playing in and we need to keep that going. Last year was a miracle to win the Championship, I don't know how many points we are behind but all I know is that we have got to try and win the next game."
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce: "James Collins makes a basic error, they take advantage of it then Vaz Te misses the chance. He had the easiest chance to score a goal you'll ever see in a Premier League football match and misses it - hence no points. You make those types of mistakes, you can't expect to get anything out of a game at this level.
"Once they got the goal they wouldn't want to come out and play. They wanted to protect the goal we'd gifted them. The loss of the goal disrupted our flow."
"I never thought I'd see James make that type of error again - he did it at Swansea. He has been one of our most consistent from that time but low and behold he has a simple back-pass he misplaces and they take advantage of it.
"The lads should have got him out of the mire. We should've got at least a point and then it wouldn't by lying as heavily on him as it is now. He's distraught at the moment. He knows what that mistake has meant. He has to get over it."
"We're beginning to look down now for the first time this season. All of a sudden now, we're looking a bit cautious and we don't want to get dragged in if we can help it."
|01 Jan 2013||v Tottenham (A)|
|12 Jan 2013||v West Brom (H)|
|19 Jan 2013||v Newcastle (A)|
|30 Jan 2013||v Chelsea (H)|
|02 Feb 2013||v Sunderland (H)|
|09 Feb 2013||v Stoke (A)|