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Reading 1 Newcastle United 2: match report
Published : 13 Apr 2010 22:22:34
Kevin Nolan scored twice as Newcastle United moved to within touching distance of the Championship trophy at the Madejski Stadium on Tuesday night. Technically, West Bromwich Albion can still catch Newcastle, but they would have to win their last three games, hope Newcastle lose their remaining three and over-turn a goal-difference of 13. Even in the unpredictable world of NUFC, that scenario is surely impossible. Newcastle United 3 Reading 0: match reportEleven months ago there were tears on the Tyne when 16 years of top flight football came to an end at Villa Park. Even a late reply from Reading, courtesy of an own goal from Danny Simpson, failed to ruin the latest Toon Army party as the Geordies remain on course for 100 points. Reading, though, should not be too disheartened. If Newcastle's response to relegation from the Premier League is laudable, Reading's rejuvenation from a team heading to League One is little short of stunning. As recently as the last week of January, Reading were one place off the foot of the Championship but a stunning FA Cup replay win at Liverpool announced their capabilities and, last weekend, they secured the point that confirmed their safety with five games remaining. Newcastle secured their place back in the promised land of the Premier League a week earlier and by the time they make the longest journey in football, to Plymouth next Monday night, they could be confirmed mathematically as the champions - if West Bromwich Albion do not beat Middlesbrough on Saturday night. Reading gave evidence of their new-found confidence in the early exchanges of this game with Jimmy Kebe teasing Fabricio Coloccini, Shane Long rolling an effort from the b-line across an unguarded Newcastle goal and Steve Harper, outstanding this season, made to look just a little ordinary. However, in the 20th minute and with their first real attack, Newcastle took the lead with a goal simple in its delivery. A long clearance from Harper was met by Shola Ameobi, and his ball reached Nolan, who turned and shot in one sweet move. Reading's cause was not helped by the absence of three defenders with Ivar Ingirmarsson and Zurab Khizanishvili injured and Matthew Mills suspended. And soon after the goal Ameobi headed wide before team-mate Danny Guthrie set-up Wayne Routledge but the winger directed his shot just wide of the left post, as Newcastle began to show just why they are back in the Premier League. Newcastle's clinical ability to break at speed was causing Reading problems, though the home side continued to push and when Jay Tabb fell under a 34th minute challenge, their players felt they should have won a penalty. But before the break Newcastle extended their lead and again they used their clever counter-attacking tactics to outsmart Reading. Guthrie saw Routledge speeding down the right flank and rolled a neat pass in front of the winger. He cut the ball back and Nolan, at the near post, cleverly turned the ball in to the net, to claim his second goal of the game and 18th of the season. The 3,998 Newcastle fans the biggest travelling contingent to the Madejski Stadium in the League this season in Reading's highest Championship attendance this term, refused to get carried away with the latest success. When these teams met at St James' Park in September Newcastle won 3-0 thanks to a hat-trick from Ameobi and Nolan could have been forgiven for chasing a third as his side pushed closer to the title. And he came so close to it in the 52nd minute when Routledge's cross fell to Nolan and his header beat Adam Federici, bounced against the foot of the left post and spun towards goal, only for Alex Pearce to clear off his line. Prior to the game, Reading manager Brian McDermott had admitted that Newcastle had been the 'boss team' of the Championship and this display confirmed that, though the home side continued to search for an opening. Reading did respond, but from an unlikely source. A late attempted clearance from Jose Enrique slammed against Simpson and ricocheted over Harper. And Reading finished with 10 men when, having used their substitutes, Bryn Gunnarsson received a head wound and left on a stretcher.