Reading ready for West Ham United showdown

Noel Hunt
Noel Hunt

Reading will rely on a carefully-formulated game plan when they travel to West Ham for a match which could decide which of the two Championship clubs wins automatic promotion.

After beating the Hammers 3-0 earlier this season, the Royals are relishing the prospect of Saturday's showdown.

"We know what we have to do and we'll go there full of confidence," said Reading striker Noel Hunt.

"It's a big game, but the more people we play in front of the better."

Reading have had a week of training to prepare for the match, while West Ham had to play a re-arranged fixture at Peterborough on Tuesday.

The Hammers won 2-0 at London Road to close to within a point of Reading, but while he was pleased with the performance, West Ham manager Sam Allardyce admitted his concern about what it might mean for Saturday's fixture.

"If we'd drawn or lost against Peterborough we couldn't have gone into the match against Reading knowing we could catch them, which was a big motivation," said Allardyce.

"But my concern is the fact Reading are not playing this week, and we put so much effort into Burnley away and then Peterborough away, then we have to be ready to do whatever we need to do physically to make sure we have enough ability to beat Reading.

"If we tire a little bit towards the end I want us to be in front, because we will tire a little bit more than them because we played in midweek and they didn't."

Hunt said Reading were looking forward to playing in front of the 30,000 crowd, including 3,000 Reading supporters, expected to pack the Boleyn Ground.

"Our last couple of performances [in front of big crowds at the Madjeski Stadium] have been full of energy from start to finish, so the more are crammed in and the more we take to away games is massive for us," said the Irishman.

"They've had a lot of draws recently and we know what we have to do, we've worked on our game plan, and we go there full of confidence."

Both Hunt and midfielder Jem Karacan said the Royals would be boosted by memories of beating West Ham 3-0 in a feisty encounter at the Madjeski earlier in December.

"They have some great players, but looking back on that game Mikele Leigertwood was brilliant," said Karacan. "The main thing is to keep doing what we've been doing and pick up the three points."