Church helps Royals win at Palace
Church hit a well-taken double either side of Jimmy Kebe's strike to secure a fourth straight Championship win for the resurgent Royals. But the picture is once again looking bleak at Palace, who could not repeat Sunday's FA Cup heroics when they returned to their day job of battling to stay in the division. Warnock has this week admitted his position is uncertain after the Eagles went into administration and were deducted 10 points, plunging them into the relegation scrap. And with mega-rich west Londoners QPR apparently casting admiring glances in his direction, the 61-year-old could be forgiven for deciding the grass is greener on the other side of the Thames. The hosts were thrown a lifeline by Sean Scannell's header to make it 2-1, but Church's clincher leaves them outside the bottom three on goal difference only. It could have been so different had Royals keeper Adam Federici not pulled off a stunning fingertip save to deny Darren Ambrose in the fifth minute. The 16-goal midfielder, whose free-kick came so close to knocking Aston Villa out of the cup, met Neil Danns' cross perfectly on the volley but Federici just managed to stick out an arm and keep the ball out. Federici also blocked a Danns volley and Calvin Andrew put a free header over with Palace dominating. Yet it was Reading who went ahead in the 23rd minute with their first real attack, and former Selhurst winger Jobi McAnuff was the instigator. Kebe found McAnuff on the right and his deep cross was met by Church, whose acrobatic volley crashed into the ground before bouncing over the despairing dive of Julian Speroni. Church should have doubled Reading's lead when he sprung the Palace offside trap and charged through one-on-one with Speroni but his heavy touch allowed the home keeper to block. Warnock threw on striker Alan Lee at the break in a bid to retrieve the situation - but his hopes were immediately dashed. Federici pulled off another fine save to keep out another Ambrose thunderbolt, and almost immediately Reading were two up. Brynjar Gunnarsson's cross was headed on by Palace's Nick Carle into the path of Kebe, who neatly side-footed a volley past the exposed Speroni. It could have been three moments later but Church's cheeky effort clipped the outside of a post. Substitute Scannell stole in unmarked to head home Ambrose's corner in the 55th minute to offer Palace a glimmer of hope. But they could not find an equaliser and instead Matt Mills teed up Church to wrap up the win with nine minutes remaining.
Related Reading News