Royals lord it over Seasiders

Second-placed Reading moved four points clear of West Ham in the Championship with an impressive 3-1 win over play-off contenders Blackpool.

Last Updated: 24/03/12 at 17:51

Reading: Brushed aside Blackpool

Reading: Brushed aside Blackpool

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The hosts took the lead in the 30th minute when Ian Harte followed up after Jobi McAnuff struck the woodwork, and five minutes later the Royals doubled their advantage.

McAnuff was again the provider, chipping to the back post for Alex Pearce to head home.

After losing for the first time in 10 matches at Peterborough in midweek, Reading were evidently in the mood to get back to winning ways.

Lomana LuaLua pulled a goal back for the visiting Tangerines just before the break with a stunning strike from long range but after the interval Mikele Leigertwood nodded in Reading's third.

Royals manager Brian McDermott handed new loan signing Benik Afobe his debut up front in place of the injured Jason Roberts while Hayden Mullins dropped out of the matchday squad, with Shaun Cummings returning on the right of defence.

Craig Cathcart came back into the Blackpool backline and Chris Basham, Ludovic Sylvestre and LuaLua were all handed recalls as Ian Holloway made four changes.

Reading could have taken an early lead when Jimmy Kebe's fizzing goalbound effort from 12 yards struck Noel Hunt a yard out and rebounded to safety.

After spending the opening exchanges firmly on the back foot, the away side steadily gained a foothold on proceedings and only Jem Karacan's block prevented Gary Taylor-Fletcher's effort from finding the back of the net.

But Reading always looked dangerous and took the lead after half an hour.

Leigertwood chested the ball into the path of McAnuff, and after the Royals skipper struck both posts with his attempt Harte was on hand to slot home.

Moments later the Royals were two goals to the good.

McAnuff's delicate cross to the back post was met by Pearce and the centre-back sent a superb header back over Gilks and into the far corner.

It seemed Reading were quickly putting themselves out of sight, but Blackpool were handed a sensational lifeline four minutes before half-time.

LuaLua collected possession 30 yards from goal and in a fairly innocuous position, but the forward produced a blistering finish to beat Adam Federici to his top left-hand corner.

After a quiet start to the second period, Hunt blasted high and wide from Akobe's neat knock-down while Federici had no problem dealing with Phillips' header at the other end as both sides pushed for the all-important fourth goal of the game.

And in the end it was the home side who re-established their two-goal cushion, with Leigertwood rising unmarked in the area to head home Harte's free-kick on the hour mark.

Hunt came close to putting the game to bed when he latched on to substitute Simon Church's flick-on, only to drag his shot wide from the edge of the box but Reading had already done enough to consolidate their place in the automatic promotion places.

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